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The exact difference between Chemistry and Physics

  1. Dec 15, 2004 #1
    I came to think about Chemistry, from the elementary 'electrons (Moons) orbiting the planet (nucleus)' To somewhat complicated chemistry such as Sub-atomic orbitals, and Hybrid orbitals etc.

    Now, i noticed that as chemistry gets more 'complicated', it just about becomes like physics. Even famous 'chemists' such as schrodinger (sp?) as shown in my textbook are really chemists working on quantum physics (which i privately am interested in)

    So my question is: Is there a clear border-line between the sciences? Or does it all end up being the same thing in a different form.

    EDIT: Just another thing to add, would it appropriate to say 'inorganic' chemistry is more towards physics than 'organic' (study of carbon) chemistry is?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2004 #2


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    There is not a clear border-line. For example, physical chemistry, chemical physics, physical organic chemistry, metal-organic chemistry, etc. sub branches are present to deal with the selected science branches.

    Inorganic chemistry textbooks start the "physical-looking" lecture with Schrödinger's famous equation; but this is pure physics, no chemistry is involved (this is my opinion). So you are partly right about this, in inorganic chemistry, we use more physics-related knowledge than we do in organic chemistry (although in some cases, we are using some physics in the latter).
  4. Dec 15, 2004 #3

    Hello. Thanks for the reply.

    I am for one, glad that the reponse (in your opinion, which would be far supierior than mine since you are doing a higher level of education and therfore have more experience) because i as a student, although i don't do Physics, (i do Chemistry and Bio) im still interested in its components, especially in the quantum physics.

    I've asked this question because lots of people seem to view like 'one or the another, no both'. So for me, i would do chemistry, but in NO way would i be interested or good (i don't know whether i am) at physics. Of course, my thoughts lie for all the sciences.
  5. Dec 15, 2004 #4
    All I have to say is take an entire year sequence of physical chemistry. Then tell me what you think chemistry is after taking P-chem.
  6. Dec 15, 2004 #5


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    Aargh ! Sacrilege !! :surprised: Schrodinger is a physicist. I get mad at chem textbooks claiming all the great physicists from around 1900 as chemists. :grumpy:

    When Rutherford (of the gold-foil, alpha particle scattering experiment) was given the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, he was very upset, and said (approximately) : "All science is either physics or stamp collecting." :cool:
  7. Dec 16, 2004 #6
    :surprised I never heard that before. Just shows that not even the nobel prizers can show the exact difference.
  8. Dec 16, 2004 #7


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    1.The Nobel Foundation made a bunch of errors in its existence.This one and the refusal to give Arnold Sommerfeld a Nobel Prize on multiple (round 30(sic))occasions seem to me the greatest.

    2.Foundation of chemistry comprize three notions:atom,molecule,chemical bond.All of the three are analyzed by physics.Fundamental chemistry is physics (quantum mechanics to be more exact).Names like Heitler,London,Hueckel sound as good for physics as for chemistry.But they were physicists.

  9. Dec 16, 2004 #8
    Physicists wanted to be mathematiciansm, but math was too hard
    Chemists wanted to be physicists, but physics was too hard
    Biologists wanted to be chemists, but chemistry was too hard
    Mathematicians wanted to be scientists, but are incapable of dealing with the real world ;-)
  10. Dec 16, 2004 #9
    And psychologists want to be considered scientists, without having to master any science!
  11. Dec 16, 2004 #10
    Physicists wanted to become mathematicians, but math was too hard???? Evidently you have never met a real physicists.

  12. Dec 17, 2004 #11
    You're right, I probably should have said, 'Physicists wanted to be mathematicians, but were too sloppy for mathematics''
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