Is quantum theory the true foundation of chemistry?

In summary, Chemistry deals with a large number of atoms and molecules that are held together by intermolecular forces. While quantum theory is often considered the foundation of chemistry, it only applies to a small number of atoms and was developed after chemistry had already been established. It is more accurate to say that the second law of thermodynamics plays a crucial role in chemistry, particularly in understanding energy changes and the behavior of molecules. Quantum mechanics can be applied to all particles, but it is typically only used for smaller molecules due to computational limitations.
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Chemistry deals with say 10^10 atoms or more (many types of molecules intermolecularly bounded together by dipole or disperson forces) so saying that quantum theory is the foundations of chemistry may be not be fully correct as quantum theory deals with countable number of atoms and only small molecules. Chemistry also grew out before the advent of quantum theory. Is it more correct to say that it is the 2nd law of thermodynamic which is at the foundations of chemistry? Chesmitry deals a lot with energy changes of molecules. i.e a molecule will change to a lower energy state. That use to puzzle me. How does a molecule 'know' there is a lower energy state in the first place? However I now realize it is really the 2nd law of thermodynamics and so the molecule dosen't 'know' but just does it 'naturally' according to this law.
 
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pivoxa15 said:
quantum theory deals with countable number of atoms and only small molecules

Not true. At the present time, only relatively small molecules can be treated (almost) exactly with quantum theory, but this is only due to their computational intractability. Nonetheless, quantum mechanics is applicable to everything, it's just silly to use it to describe macroscopic objects, where Newtonian physics applies (and is much simpler). The interactions of atoms and molecules is still very much determined by quantum mechanics.
 
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It is a complex question to determine the true foundation of chemistry, as different principles and theories have contributed to its development. While quantum theory has certainly played a significant role in understanding the behavior of atoms and molecules, it may not be the sole foundation of chemistry.

As mentioned in the content, chemistry deals with a large number of atoms and molecules, and the principles of quantum theory may not always apply at this scale. Furthermore, chemistry has been studied and practiced for centuries before the advent of quantum theory, indicating that other principles and theories have also contributed to its foundation.

The second law of thermodynamics, which states that the total entropy of a closed system will always increase over time, is certainly a fundamental principle in chemistry. It helps to explain the natural tendency of molecules to move towards a lower energy state, as mentioned in the content. However, it is important to note that this law is also based on the principles of quantum theory, as it is ultimately the behavior of individual particles that leads to changes in entropy.

In conclusion, while quantum theory has undoubtedly played a crucial role in shaping our understanding of chemistry, it may not be the only foundation of this field. The second law of thermodynamics, along with other principles and theories, also contribute to our understanding of chemical processes and reactions. It is the combination of these various principles that form the true foundation of chemistry.
 

1. What is the purpose of studying the foundations of chemistry?

The foundations of chemistry provide the fundamental understanding of the properties, structures, and transformations of matter. This knowledge is essential for further advancements in chemistry and other related fields such as medicine, materials science, and environmental science.

2. What are some key concepts in the foundations of chemistry?

Some key concepts in the foundations of chemistry include atomic structure, chemical bonding, the periodic table, and chemical reactions. These concepts help us understand the building blocks of matter and how they interact with each other.

3. How does the study of foundations of chemistry impact our daily lives?

The study of foundations of chemistry has a significant impact on our daily lives. It helps us understand the properties and behaviors of substances we encounter in our daily lives, such as food, medicines, and household products. It also contributes to the development of new technologies and advancements in various industries.

4. What are some of the challenges in understanding the foundations of chemistry?

One of the main challenges in understanding the foundations of chemistry is the complexity of the subject. It requires a strong foundation in mathematics and physics and can be difficult to grasp for some individuals. Another challenge is keeping up with new discoveries and advancements in the field.

5. How can we apply the principles of foundations of chemistry to solve real-world problems?

The principles of foundations of chemistry can be applied to solve real-world problems in various ways. For example, understanding chemical reactions can help us develop new and more efficient methods for producing energy or treating diseases. It can also aid in developing new materials with specific properties to meet societal needs.

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