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What are you suppose to do when you cannot find an answer?

  1. Aug 23, 2012 #1
    The chemistry books are so vauge, it is ridiculous. They constantly feed me information and want me to use intuition rather than step-by-step logic to find an answer. I hate it. I hate just making guesses. I look at the examples and they tell me the answer without a precise and accurate explaination of why it just had to be that answer. Just a bunch of generalzations. The explainations are full of "if it looks like this, then it is most likely this". No! Bad! I want exact answers and explainations damnit!

    Like, right now I am looking at types of solids. There is no precise and accurate way to tell the difference between a molecular solid and a covalent network solid. This is how the book how it arrived at the answer that silicon is a covalent network solid:

    "A compound of two nonmetals is likely to be molecular, although in some cases network bonding occurs (involving Groups IIIA and IVA elements especially, such as BN, SiO2, SiC with strong single bonds)." "Silicon atoms might be expected to form covalent bonds to other silicon atoms, as carbon does in diamond. A covalent network solid would result."

    The most important question I want answered is "how do I find answers when there is no one around to help?"

    Its basic right now but as I go on, there will be less and less people with knowledge of what I am learning. So what am I suppose to do? Reread every chapter 3 times very carefully? Are there any other strategies that I can use when I'm helpless and can only use myself?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2012 #2
    "how do I find answers when there is no one around to help?"
    -by learning to utilize your resources.

    I felt the same frustration when I started chemistry. Frequently, I would find myself having to re-read sections when I was trying to answer questions. Attitude is very important in your approach to the subject. If you start by knowing you hate it, that is what your mind will be thinking about. This detracts from your focus and ultimately your understanding of the material. Getting upset and obsessing over problems will eat your time up. Also, know some topics take a minute to "sink" in.

    If the author's definition is difficult for you to understand, try to find the information somewhere else. I find wikipedia a good jumping off place to start learning the language associated around the terminology and concepts. Most of what I have read on there has been accurate but you should take it with a grain of salt.

    Another place you might find some good information is in the HW/Coursework section in other sciences. Someone in there might know of a good general chemistry basics guide. It wouldn't hurt to ask.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    A network solid or covalent network solid is a chemical compound in which the atoms are bonded by covalent bonds in a continuous network. In a network solid there are no individual molecules and the entire crystal may be considered a macromolecule. Formulas for network solids as those for ionic compounds are simple ratios of the component atoms represented by a formula unit.
    Examples of network solids include diamond with a continuous network of carbon atoms and silicon dioxide or quartz with a continuous three dimensional network of SiO2 units. Graphite and the mica group of silicate minerals structurally consist of continuous two-dimensional layers covalently bonded within the layer with other bond types holding the layers together.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Molecular solid is a solid composed of molecules held together by the van der Waals forces. Because these dipole forces are weaker than covalent or ionic bonds, molecular solids are soft and have relatively low melting temperature. Pure molecular solids are electrical insulators but they can be made conductive by doping. Examples of molecular solids include hydrocarbons, ice, sugar, fullerenes, sulfur and solid carbon dioxide.
  4. Aug 24, 2012 #3
    Ha! I remember being annoyed at that section with my book, too. I think it even used the same exact examples...well would you look at that, I just opened up my book to find this section. You wouldn't happen to be using the Ebbing and Gammon book would you? I really liked how they just randomly threw out an example that required a solution not even discussed in the text, save for the actual solution discussion. I think at this point, the authors want us students to understand the general trends, which is why they mention the Group IIIA and IVA. I just wish they would mention this in the text portion...oh well. I am assuming more specifics and "why" answers will come in later chemistry courses, as I have just completed my chemistry sequence with that book and no more details on the subject were mentioned. I, too, love to know all of the reasons to why things are the way they are, but I have to be patient. I'll learn more details as the school years go by, and it can be a slow process getting there, but the foundations must be set first. Thinking like that keeps me sane.

    What the poster above me said is spot on...when the book doesn't explain something to your satisfaction, email your professor or do some research on your own. There are many, many websites out there with great information, many of which have slightly different ways of explaining the details.
  5. Aug 24, 2012 #4


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    So here's something that I don't quite understand here.

    When I went to school, we didn't have "google" or even "yahoo" to do a search. Doing research work, or needing to look up something meant that we have to drag ourselves to a library (remember one of those?), and either hunt for a journal, look up the card catalog for a particular book, or both.

    But things are not that "primitive" anymore, is it? In fact, a lot of information can be obtained right at your fingertips! So I'm not quite sure I understand the frustration here. Besides utilizing the resources you have at your own school (TA, grad students, instructors, etc.), have you tried doing a search on such a thing? My background is in solid state/condensed matter physics, and I know for a fact that such info is available online. As a matter of fact, using your school access, you might even get a hold of many journal papers that can go into painful details of such a thing if you wish.

    The point here is that the resources available to you is not only plenty, but utterly convenient!

    So my question is, have you tried Google, or even Google Scholar?

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