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What is the Chemistry equivalent of Particle Physics?

  1. Sep 27, 2011 #1
    Are there any areas of Chemistry that are dedicated to the study of elementary particles e.g.the Standard Model?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2011 #2


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    No, chemistry studies things that are composed of atoms. In most cases elementary particles (other than electrons and proton, which is in itself already a nuclei) can be safely ignored in chemistry. The only moment when they are important is when they carry energy that can start reactions, but even than they are not researched separately.
  4. Sep 28, 2011 #3
    Chemistry is simply a practical subset field of physics, it is more of an applied science than a pure one, so if it doesn't affect the application of chemical theories it doesn't come into the chemical viewpoint.

    really all science is physics, its simply broken down into chemistry Biology and physics to simplify it, but they are not different sciences, so in many ways the deeper answers (like that of elementary particles) are supplied by physics.
  5. Sep 28, 2011 #4

    D H

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    That is just wrong on many levels. And arrogant. Ask a ecosystems biologist whether their science is just physics, broken down to simplify it. Or whether they get any meaningful answers from elementary particle physics.

    As a physicist-cum-systems engineer, I get to work with lots of different groups on spacecraft design. Avionics engineers think the avionics system is the most important part of the spacecraft. To guidance, navigation, and controls specialists, the spacecraft revolves around the GN&C subsystems. Structural engineers think that their structures are the heart of the spacecraft. And so on. Occasionally the arrogance of each group gets in the way of getting things done.

    This comment is also deserving of some comic relief.


  6. Sep 28, 2011 #5


    But I understand why you think looking at something physically is not effective when applying it... YES! its not necessary to use the QM equation when looking at some concept in Biochemistry.

    But that doesn't change the fact that it is all elementary particle physics, does it?

    Besides... Math is physics... isn't it? I mean is there some "Math-land?" I don't think so... because all Math is conceived in our brain... A physical system.

    But I did enjoy those pictures hahahaha
  7. Sep 28, 2011 #6
    Thoroughly concur on this point. I think there's this notion that since we can look into the depths of space, bang nuclei into one another at enormous energies to probe the inner structure of matter, and the like that other problems are simpler or better understood. People are still arguing vigorously in the literature about a number of what might be considered more accessible problems like the nature and dynamics of glass and the glass transition, for example.

    Depends. There are people who wish to understand enzyme mechanisms in intimate and exquisite detail. They will use mixed quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics methods - with varying amounts of approximation - to study the reaction computationally.

    I don't think anyone is questioning that it's all elementary particles interacting, in the end. It's just that looking at, say, my current efforts to understand certain aspects of signal transduction is probably better served with methods that don't require explicitly dealing with every single electron and nucleus in the cell. :)
  8. Oct 5, 2011 #7
    hey guys, don't forget our friend the photon! The photon is right at the heart of chemistry.
  9. Oct 6, 2011 #8
    Some branches of theoretical chemistry study aspects of elementary particles as electrons, protons, or photons that are not studied by physicists. Think of photochemists and of the entire branch of photochemistry!

    There are physical chemists as M. Quack who design experiments to test the standard model with a precision beyond typical physicists experiments.

    Other theoretical chemists as Nobel winner for chemistry Ilya Prigogine have gone beyond quantum field theory (the foundation of the Standard Model) and proposed a generalized quantum mechanics. He and his group developed this generalization for studying those aspects of chemistry that could not be explained using the Standard Model.
  10. Oct 6, 2011 #9
    I believe he was referring to simplification as a description of a division of labor within science. All of science is the study of the universe; different disciplines study different parts of the universe, and some disciplines study specific portions of "higher" disciplines.
  11. Oct 7, 2011 #10
    Don't forget radiochemistry/nuclear chemistry. It was radiochemistry that first allowed us to measure and identify the neutrino.
  12. Oct 7, 2011 #11


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    Was it? I recall it was detection of two gamma rays of specific energies that was a fingerprint of the neutrino presence. This is hardly radiochemistry.

    That being said, the border between physics and chemistry is blurry.
  13. Oct 7, 2011 #12
    blurry indeed. so there were a couple of studies at the same time. one of the studies looked at the reaction (i'll use η for neutrino here)

    η + Cl-37 --> Ar-37 + e-

    They then had to separate about the 3 Ar atoms from 10E30 C2Cl4 atoms in the tank. That is the blurry lines of radiochemistry

    Another reaction looked at the reaction of the neutrinos to form a positron emitter and measure the 511keV via coincidence techniques.

    FYI i really don't know these off the top of my head, but just covered this chapter in a text.

  14. Oct 7, 2011 #13
    Cowan and Reines used an organic scintillator the first time. And in second try they used cadmium chloride and the Cd nuclear reaction.

    Check also Radiochemistry and nuclear chemistry By Gregory R. Choppin, Jan-Olov Liljenzin, Jan Rydberg
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