What is the “Nature of Synthesis?” How shall a student prepare to write an exploratory essay on this topic? If you’ve been given this assignment and are in need of some guidance, this introductory exposition will point you in the right direction.
When discussing the term synthesis, it is necessary for the student to clarify which field of study the student is being asked to analyze. In the broadest sense, there are two types of synthesis: chemical synthesis, pertaining to physical and/or biochemical fields, and philosophical synthesis, pertaining to the field of philosophy. This guide addresses the nature of synthesis from the chemical standpoint, and these ten facts will assist the student by providing accurate information from which to form their essay.
- What is the definition of the term synthesis? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary offers three broad answers. First and most commonly, synthesis is defined as “the composition or combination of parts or elements so as to form a whole.” Secondly it can be defined as “the production of a substance by the union of chemical elements, groups, or simpler compounds or by the degradation of a complex compound.” Lastly, the term can refer to “the combining of often diverse conceptions into a coherent whole. In simpler terms, synthesis is the process of combining simple elements, typically organic, to form something completely new.
- What is synthesis used for? Chemical synthesis is part of the scientific process used in laboratories day in and day out all over the world. Chemists, scientists, physicians, and inventors in various industries rely on using chemical synthesis to study existing compounds and to create new products that are not found in nature. The process of synthesis also allows the production of certain desired products in large quantities in a controlled environment.
- What happens during synthesis? When two or more substances are combined, a chemical reaction occurs. The result is a “synthesis reaction,” also referred to as a “direct combination reaction,” and the resulting product is called a compound. Scientists often study and synthesize chemical compounds and elements from nature, gaining a better understanding of those compounds as a result. The opposite of a synthesis reaction is a “decomposition reaction,” in which a complex substance is broken down into its smaller parts.
- How does synthesis affect me directly? Synthesis takes place around the clock inside the human body. As we take in bread, meat, and vegetables, the body breaks them down and through synthesis turns the ingested elements into vitamins and nutrients needed to sustain life. Outside the body, synthesis can be viewed in the natural world all around us. If you see a rusted piece of metal sitting outside, it has come to be that way as the result of oxidation, a synthesis reaction that takes place when water comes into contact with metal to create the new compound of rust.
- What is a real-world example of synthesis? Let’s take a look at what many consider to be the most plentiful compound on the planet. When two hydrogen gas molecules are combined with a single molecule of oxygen gas, the resulting compound is two molecules of H20, commonly called water. Scientists in a lab can create the water compound by combining two simple elements.
- How is synthesis important in the world around me? Many common medications used today have come about as the result of a scientist using chemical synthesis. Chemists and physicians routinely extract simple elements from plant materials, and when certain elements are combined with others, powerful new drugs can be developed to fight such diseases as malaria or even cancer. Advancements in technology and the discovery of new forms of energy are also made possible by the science of synthesis.
- How is my daily life affected by synthesis? The smartphone in your pocket is the direct result of a myriad of inventors using synthesis in a lab to develop lithium ion batteries. The new blood pressure medication your grandmother takes is the result of doctors performing synthesis to discover safer, more effective drugs.
- Where did modern-day synthesis originate? Alchemists from ancient Greek and the Middle ages unknowingly took part in the study of chemical synthesis each time they created a new batch of wine or attempted to benefit from the opiates found in poppy seeds. True synthesis as a scientific field of study did not emerge until the 19th century. History gives the credit to a German chemist by the name of Friedrich Wöhler, a pioneer in his field. His discovery in 1928 was, in fact, accidental, and came about as he was attempting to make one compound and was surprised by the unexpected creation of another. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the study of chemical biology was formally recognized by the world’s scientific community.
- Are there hazards that can be connected to synthesis? There is a long list of elements and compounds that should never be mixed together in order to avoid unpleasant results. Chemists have discovered that synthesis of two unfriendly compounds can result in explosions, detonations, radical combustion, or the release of toxic or deadly gas. A real life example is the noxious cloud of fumes that result by mixing bleach with ammonia. Great care must be taken to avoid these dangerous and deadly combinations.
- What can we look forward to in the future of chemical synthesis? The invention of modern scientific tools has certainly helped the advancement of synthesis. As scientists continue to discover, isolate, and name new organic elements on the Periodic Table, new compounds are also being created by the chemical synthesis of those new elements. Some chemists indicate that the field of chemistry will be radically changed in the next century by the rise of “robo-chemists,” computers coded with artificial intelligence that can quickly synthesis any organic compound quickly and without error. A futuristic synthesis machine could, in effect, eliminate much of the human element. Ethicists debate the wisdom of utilizing such a machine, but many scientists agree that the advances obtained through it would transform the entire scientific industry by making exciting discoveries that may have taken a human scientist light years to achieve.
This introductory guide can serve as a reference point for the student pursuing the topic in-depth. There is a vast array of additional information and research available regarding the nature of synthesis available online, at the bookstore, at your local library and most importantly in our 2 standalone accompanying guides on how to write on the nature of synthesis for an exploratory essay as well as our 20 topics on the subject hand in hand with a sample custom essay.
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- Davies, Huw M.L. “Expanding the art of synthesis.” Nature Chemistry Vol 1 October 2009 Retrieved from http://www.chemistry.illinois.edu/faculty/Davieshighlight.pdf
- “Chemical Synthesis.” Encyclopedia Brittanica. 10/29/2016 Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/science/chemical-synthesis
- Usselman, Melvyn C., Steven S. Zumdahl, Richard O.C. Norman, and Carl R. Noller, “Chemical Compound.” Encyclopedia Brittanica 10/29/2016 Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/science/chemical-compound/Binary-molecular-covalent-compounds#ref615757
- Poss, Andrew. “Chemical Synthesis.” 10/29/2016 Retrieved from http://science.jrank.org/pages/6676/Synthesis-Chemical.html
- Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D, “Synthesis Reactions and Examples.” About 10/29/2016 Retrieved from http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemicalreactions/a/Synthesis-Reactions.htm
- Boley, Allison. “Examples of Chemical Synthesis” 10/29/2016 Retrieved from http://classroom.synonym.com/examples-chemical-synthesis-15633.html
- Granger, Jill. “H20 – The Mystery, Art, and Science of Water.” 10/29/2016 Retrieved from http://witcombe.sbc.edu/water/chemistryelectrolysis.html
- Gillaspy, Rebecca. “Biochemical Reactions: Synthesis and Decomposition.” Transcript, Chapter 3, Lesson 1. 10/29/2016 Retrieved from http://study.com/academy/lesson/biochemical-reactions-synthesis-and-decomposition.html
- Fernelius, W. Conard. “An Ammonia World.” Journal of Chemical Education 1931 8(1) p 55. 10/29/2016 Retrieved from http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed008p55?journalCode=jceda8
- Peplow, Mark. “Organic synthesis: The robo-chemist.” Nature Volume 512, Issue 7512, August 7, 2014. 10/29/2016 Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/news/organic-synthesis-the-robo-chemist-1.15661