This is “Introduction to Chemistry”, chapter 1 from the book Principles of General Chemistry (v. 1.0).
This book is licensed under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa 3.0 license. See the license for more details, but that basically means you can share this book as long as you credit the author (but see below), don't make money from it, and do make it available to everyone else under the same terms.
This content was accessible as of December 29, 2012, and it was downloaded then by Andy Schmitz in an effort to preserve the availability of this book.
Normally, the author and publisher would be credited here. However, the publisher has asked for the customary Creative Commons attribution to the original publisher, authors, title, and book URI to be removed. Additionally, per the publisher's request, their name has been removed in some passages. More information is available on this project's attribution page.
For more information on the source of this book, or why it is available for free, please see the project's home page. You can browse or download additional books there. You may also download a PDF copy of this book (147 MB) or just this chapter (9 MB), suitable for printing or most e-readers, or a .zip file containing this book's HTML files (for use in a web browser offline).
As you begin your study of college chemistry, those of you who do not intend to become professional chemists may well wonder why you need to study chemistry. You will soon discover that a basic understanding of chemistry is useful in a wide range of disciplines and career paths. You will also discover that an understanding of chemistry helps you make informed decisions about many issues that affect you, your community, and your world. A major goal of this text is to demonstrate the importance of chemistry in your daily life and in our collective understanding of both the physical world we occupy and the biological realm of which we are a part. The objectives of this chapter are twofold: (1) to introduce the breadth, the importance, and some of the challenges of modern chemistry and (2) to present some of the fundamental concepts and definitions you will need to understand how chemists think and work.
An atomic corral for electrons. A corral of 48 iron atoms (yellow-orange) on a smooth copper surface (cyan-purple) confines the electrons on the surface of the copper, producing a pattern of “ripples” in the distribution of the electrons. Scientists assembled the 713-picometer-diameter corral by individually positioning iron atoms with the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope. (Note that 1 picometer is equivalent to 1 × 10-12 meters.)