From Ammonia to Meth: How Has Chemistry Shaped Our Civilization? Pt. 2
Given that chemistry is crucial in bettering human life, it has been any less of dread to us, without ever knowing.
From the medicine manifesting on herbs and the hazardous trial-error mechanism, chemistry has introduced us to a pharmacy industry. Every pill comes to exist from a profound insight into the chemical properties of every compound involved, how they will impact the body and the preexisting conditions, and ultimately the side effects that it might introduce to users. This further explains why we’re not leveraging mercury as a cure to syphilis recommended by medieval physicists.
Flipping the back of any canister, vaccine tube, or other medicine, we’ll stumble upon the chemical compounds that have all too triumphally won us better health.
Carl Cori and Gerty Radnitz’s experiments have offered precious insights into glucose metabolism, the energy producing-storing mechanism, paving the way for more effective diabetes control and treatment techniques.
By 1956, Miles Laboratory’s chemists invented the so-called Clinistix clinical test strip to detect glucose in the urine, from which diagnosing diabetes. It has since been developed into tools to measure protein, pH, bilirubin (bile pigment) and other blood/urine compounds, catalyzing, albeit fast, accurate diagnosis methods.
Given the context of the 1930s, wherein our nutrition knowledge had still been superficial, Albert Szent-Györgyi’s discovery on ascorbic acid, or vitamin C - the precursor to a more effective digestive system on carbohydrates, fats and proteins - “evolved” pretty much everything and gave the very grounds for modern nutritional science.
Without chemistry works and discoveries, we wouldn’t have got penicillin, medical threads, artificial skin and an excessive number of other medical advances. Still, had chemistry never put forward that many medical applications, we, to all appearances, wouldn’t have got the anti-vax movement.
Playing the critical role of a medical momentum for our long-live civilization, chemistry has also catalyzed a revolution within the energy industry.
Given that we’re burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels for energy and another byproduct - pollution, we still can get the energy security on cloud nine, thanks to chemistry’s groundbreaking contributions.
From sugarcane, maize, fats, animal wastes and other bio-derived materials, we’ve come up with biogas and biofuel - eco-friendly energy sources through chemical reaction process, which has since become the largest renewable energy source, whose capacity can meet up to one-tenth of global energy demand .
Another chemistry breakthrough can be effortlessly spelt out as nuclear power. Contrary to the destructive notions of atomic weapons, this is instead a safe energy source releasing less CO2 emissions than any other source, even offshore wind or photovoltaic energy (solar PV).
It’s not to mention that chemists still are voraciously studying to develop innovative energy technologies, take solar energy as an example (synthetic chemical fuel derived from photochemical reactions, biophysics, thermochemistry and electrochemistry), which seem to auspiciously leverage the entire civilization with clean and economical sources of energy.
3. The happiness modulation
In addition to its role as a purposive catalyst for living, happiness has also been any sort of an ultimate governance tool to manoeuvre the society.
Given a vigorous expanding population of a higher expectancy, “what is happiness” or “what is the purpose of life” is doomed to over and over pop up within 8 billion brains. Given that how we perceive it has varied from time to time, civilization to civilization.
Many a philosophical school has it that elation goes hand in hand with morality, thriving on our relationships with the surroundings (Christianity); arriving once we’ve become the what-we-should-be versions (Aristotle); and imbued with austerities, miseries and crises to live up to their ultimate values (Nietzsche).
On the other hand, Buddhism claims that we could only lay hands on the ultimate contentment upon having overcome such run-of-the-mill things as greed and love, giving up the happiness pursuit as a must-have toy.