My 'why' questions -- Wanting to learn Chemistry to figure out my why questions

  • #1
Gifovaco
17
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TL;DR Summary
Because it surrounds me.....
OK, My 1st post. I am going to learn chemistry because:
I know electro-mechanical engineering, but I don't know why 'stuff' behaves like it does.
Why my epoxy has different solidification times? Why can I not burst it with a specific EM spectrum to react it immediately?
Why my garage door genie button turned to mush?
Why Heat shrink works?
I should be able to design an adhesive that maximizes all Bulk, Young and Shear modulus, but stable at what temp?
Why is hot sauce Hot?
What makes energetic materials...energetic

Well, you get the idea. I want to start at the beginning, be able to balance a chem equation, understand 3d molecule structure and what the xxx it means? I am so new, but so long in wishing I knew. I am in no hurry, this is my deal for me. Of course I have used various acids to etch metals, aqua regia for gold, but I want to be able to design and predict outcomes. I don't like being told "mix this that and the other thing and it works" I want to understand it to the point I can refine and perfect the processes.

My start, notice I didn't challenge Heisenberg on where an electron is located by asking 'When' it is located, we'll do that later....lol
I look forward to a long, slow, enlightening process...more heads make the thinking easier....
 
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  • #2
Chemistry is difficult to self-teach since it's highly experimental. I'd suggest pursuing a degree if it's feasible, because self-teaching is not nearly as easy as many think.
 
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  • #3
:welcome:
Gifovaco said:
TL;DR Summary: Because it surrounds me.....

Why is hot sauce Hot?
That's the easy one!

Ingredient called capsaicin. It is very good at getting the attention of nerves!

Cheers,
Tom
 
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  • #4
Mayhem said:
Chemistry is difficult to self-teach since it's highly experimental. I'd suggest pursuing a degree if it's feasible, because self-teaching is not nearly as easy as many think.
Thanks, I get that. As I learned electricity formally, I started with Ohm's law so before 'hooking' things up, I knew what to expect. At my point now I want to be able read/write chem equations before I go past baking soda and vinegar acid /base anything. Maybe a worthwhile beginners tutorial in theory to learn and test myself before I start mixing up stuff? Simple nomenclature 'feels' right. Then maybe I can ask a descriptive question. So any tutorial would be appreciated. tkx, Vaco
 
  • #6
Physics to study may help you with most of your questions, extensively. Physics alone will not help enough with all your questions. Chemistry alone will not help with all your questions. Undergraduate degree or more in Physics might be what will give you what you want; and include AT LEAST three years of undergraduate Chemistry courses as if for that major field.
 
  • #7
Gifovaco said:
Thanks, I get that. As I learned electricity formally, I started with Ohm's law so before 'hooking' things up, I knew what to expect. At my point now I want to be able read/write chem equations before I go past baking soda and vinegar acid /base anything. Maybe a worthwhile beginners tutorial in theory to learn and test myself before I start mixing up stuff? Simple nomenclature 'feels' right. Then maybe I can ask a descriptive question. So any tutorial would be appreciated. tkx, Vaco
You can't safely do any meaningful chemistry without a fumehood (or something with a similar functionality), and sourcing chemicals legally requires a license. Safety is also something which must be taught and reinforced by more experienced chemists. Those are the main problems od self-teaching chemistry.
 
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Mayhem said:
You can't safely do any meaningful chemistry without a fumehood (or something with a similar functionality), and sourcing chemicals legally requires a license. Safety is also something which must be taught and reinforced by more experienced chemists. Those are the main problems od self-teaching chemistry.
You hit the nail on "that scares me' with your fume hood comment. I worked with mom and pop electro-platers... cyanide... really? and their safety protocol is to be upwind? My common sense told me to leave and wisely so. I suppose 'what' I desire to learn is the 'why' do these molecules do what they do, before I start introducing them to one another. I will not hazard what I do not understand. But now, it feels good to be moving past the "just mix it up and it works' un-easiness. AND also, having experienced mentoring is becoming another 'common sense' inclusion. Thank you, Mayhem....
 
  • #9
Gifovaco said:
You hit the nail on "that scares me' with your fume hood comment. I worked with mom and pop electro-platers... cyanide... really? and their safety protocol is to be upwind? My common sense told me to leave and wisely so. I suppose 'what' I desire to learn is the 'why' do these molecules do what they do, before I start introducing them to one another. I will not hazard what I do not understand. But now, it feels good to be moving past the "just mix it up and it works' un-easiness. AND also, having experienced mentoring is becoming another 'common sense' inclusion. Thank you, Mayhem....
Read Blackman's Chemistry (last chapters can be skipped). Get extremely comfortable with general lab calculations. Atkin's Physical Chemistry (Quanta, Matter and Change). Read Clayden's Organic Chemistry. Read Housecroft and Sharpe's Inorganic Chemistry. Read If you read and understand these, you will have theoretical knowledge that matches a well-read undergraduate closing in on their graduation.

Thing is, knowing what to read and waht to skip, knowing if your understanding is correct, etc. is very hard without a mentor. You'd need to solve countless practice problems.

But those books will form a great deal of the theory you'd encounter as an undergraduate.
 
  • #10
Gifovaco said:
I want to start at the beginning, be able to balance a chem equation, understand 3d molecule structure and what the xxx it means?
You are asking for far too much. The 'plain' chemistry alone is already a really big bite, but you aim to push it till the uncertainty-wrecked areas of quantum chemistry...
I suggest to try to get some more general knowledge first so you could identify the area you wish to focus on for real.
 
  • #11
Rive said:
You are asking for far too much. The 'plain' chemistry alone is already a really big bite, but you aim to push it till the uncertainty-wrecked areas of quantum chemistry...
I suggest to try to get some more general knowledge first so you could identify the area you wish to focus on for real.
You are so correct. My curiosity based on having experience of 'stuff' that works is why is want to fill the gaps. Again correct, I am beginning in a very general area, up the staircase in understanding, I will see to ask of myself what I would not yet know. I am glad you said what you did "uncertainty-wrecked areas of quantum chemistry", I can 'feel' why Planck's constant, and Heisenberg's indeterminacy principle makes sense. I was referred to Allen Blackman's book from a member here. Upon glance, the perfect start. Thank YOU Rive for your direction, I will surely be surprised! Vaco....
 
  • #12
Mayhem said:
Read Blackman's Chemistry (last chapters can be skipped). Get extremely comfortable with general lab calculations. Atkin's Physical Chemistry (Quanta, Matter and Change). Read Clayden's Organic Chemistry. Read Housecroft and Sharpe's Inorganic Chemistry. Read If you read and understand these, you will have theoretical knowledge that matches a well-read undergraduate closing in on their graduation.

Thing is, knowing what to read and waht to skip, knowing if your understanding is correct, etc. is very hard without a mentor. You'd need to solve countless practice problems.

But those books will form a great deal of the theory you'd encounter as an undergraduate.
Mayhem, I really thank you for that start, I downloaded the 4th Allen Blackman's and it has already filled gaps....I may not appear here for a while as I integrate your recommendations. Food for a hungry mind....much appreciated, Vaco...
 

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