Talk:Physical chemistry

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 Definition The application of physics to macroscopic, microscopic, atomic, subatomic, and particulate phenomena in chemical systems within the field of chemistry traditionally using the principles, practices and concepts of thermodynamics, quantum chemistry, statistical mechanics and kinetics. [d] [e]

Confusing sentence

The last sentence of the first paragraph doesn't make much sense to me. Is it missing a crucial word? Could someone who knows the topic rewrite it? Jessica Pierce 14:37, 2 April 2007 (CDT)

New introduction

In a single bold stroke, I have moved the old introduction to the talk page and replaced it with a new introduction, which draws upon a description of physical chemistry provided by the ACS (here) and a synthesis of introductions from multiple P-chem texts (available online here).

In my view the previous introduction did not adequately achieve the goal of providing a lucid, concise introduction to physical chemistry to the casual reader. The long list seems contrary to the CZ recommendation of having a compelling, narrative voice. I have preserved the original text below, however, because the concepts therein may guide future development of the article.

Old Introduction

Physical chemistry is a combined science of physics, chemistry and mathematics, resulting in areas as thermodynamics, electrochemistry, biophysics, macromolecular chemistry, polymer chemistry, polymer physical chemistry, biochemistry, Theoretical chemistry, computational chemistry and quantum chemistry. Physical chemistry tries to describe observed chemically macroscopic phenomena by molecular-level explanations. Typically these are changes in temperature, pressure, volume, heat, and work done by or on systems in the solid, liquid, and or gas (but seldom plasma) phase are correlated to microscopic atomic and molecular interactions on chemical and not physical or nuclear level.

The relationships that physical chemistry tries to resolve include the effects of:

  1. The behavior of elements according to the periodic table of elements.
  2. The behavior of atoms and molecules on a physical scale.
  3. Chemistry and temperature, thermodynamics.
  4. Reaction kinetics on the reaction rate.
  5. Chemistry and quantity, statistical chemistry, from order to chaos, entropy.
  6. The chemistry of solids in solid state chemistry, crystals, radiation diffraction.
  7. The molecular theory of solutions.
  8. The behavior of colloids.
  9. Tensile strength.
  10. Chemistry of surfaces and boundaries.
  11. Surface tension.
  12. Plasticity and rheology.
  13. Electricity, magnetism and chemistry.
  14. Conductivity.
  15. NMR.
  16. Rotation and vibration in chemistry.
  17. Spectroscopy.
  18. Macromolecular chemistry.
  19. Computational chemistry or theoretical chemistry.
  20. Quantum chemistry.
  21. Polymer chemistry.
  22. Materials science.
  23. Error analyses and data reduction.

New introduction

Within the discipline of chemistry, physical chemistry is an area of specialty which seeks to understand macroscopic chemical properties and reactions in terms of microscopic atomic and molecular phenomena. Towards this end, physical chemistry draws heavily on principles of physics and mathematics. Physical chemistry is comprised of three key areas of study: thermodynamics, kinetics, and quantum chemistry.

Comments welcome Jacob Jensen 17:47, 4 April 2007 (CDT)


Since you cant possibly catch Phys Chem in one article you need the tree to direct to other articles that are phys chem in nature. maybe somewhat too bold? Robert Tito |  Talk  18:23, 4 April 2007 (CDT)

I see the value of the tree but I think it means that most readers won't ever get past the introduction. There is another way to express this list which I think will seem more logical, using the three main categories "thermodynamics", "kinetics", and "quantum chemistry". Most, if not all, of the items on the list are either (a) small parts of one of these three categories or (b) applications of one or more of these categories to a specific discipline. A few examples:
  1. Spectroscopy and "rotation and vibration in chemistry" are simply smaller parts of quantum chemistry
  2. Physical polymer chemistry is the thermodynamic, kinetic, and (occasionally) quantum mechanical analysis of the properties and reactions of polymers.
  3. Chemical treatments of electricity and magnetism rely heavily on atomic orbital or molecular orbital theory to rationalize, for example, ferromagnetism or electrical conductivity. These are all outgrowths of quantum chemistry.

In other words, I think that thermodynamics, kinetics, and quantum bind the discipline together - at least that's how most introductory textbooks frame the subject. Another section in the article can explain how specific areas of expertise within physical chemistry (spectroscopy, etc.) relate to these central topics. Jacob Jensen 19:49, 4 April 2007 (CDT)

level and didactics

Yoiu are right it is standard for post graduates, I rest my case since this lacks the most basic of explanotory reasons for having something as an encyclopedia. Please continue as you see fit it will be a nice basic introductory text for post graduates or even promovendi. Robert Tito |  Talk  20:03, 4 April 2007 (CDT)

I'm not sure what you are implying. The partitioning of physical chemistry into thermodynamics, kinetics, and grossly simplified quantum chemistry (atomic and molecular orbitals) seems to be a standard feature of most introductory university chemistry texts. As per the "good article" criteria, my understanding is that undergraduate university students are our target audience. Jacob Jensen 20:26, 4 April 2007 (CDT)

Just from a lower level point of view, I think that the article may be starting at too high a level. Isn't physical chemistry about the things we can feel and touch and then relating them to the molecular chemistry that makes it all work. Maybe we should start at least at a 15 year old level and work our way up to quantum mechanics and universty level. --Matt Innis (Talk) 21:01, 4 April 2007 (CDT)

Physical chemistry starts at the university level. basically.Nancy Sculerati 21:04, 4 April 2007 (CDT) PS-would the chemists please look at Life, could use help on carbon and silicon Nancy Sculerati 21:04, 4 April 2007 (CDT)

Honestly, I think the only people that will read the majority of this article will have a background in chemistry, probably at the undergraduate level. I don't think you have to worry about it being readable to people who are not exposed to hard science. The regular chemistry article should have enough P-Chem in it to suffice for the nonscientific reader. -Tom Kelly (Talk) 21:08, 4 April 2007 (CDT)

In my educational system that is 14 year old and above, this is an encyclopedia so it should be a way to check things and look for them. Physical chemistry including quantum chemistry is being taught at 17 - 19 year olds but not on thie level of turning everything into quantum chemistry as even in its roots thermodynamics IS quantum mechanical. A lot gets explained through statistical theories to symplify. Only in our post graduate level that is AFTER masters degree we get to the level you are indicating. For that reason I do not see this to be an introductory article on physical chemistry. It is in effect true science wise. It is hard to explain anything if you start by putting everything AS BASICS to quantum mechanical level. This way it will not be explaining anything but an article for a few that already know the way. Not encyclopedial. Robert Tito |  Talk  21:24, 4 April 2007 (CDT) ADDENDUM. The way I am used to teach chemistry is start easy then increase the level, not the other way around. Robert Tito |  Talk  21:26, 4 April 2007 (CDT)

That's not where I misunderstand you. What I don't understand is what parts of the new introduction are too complicated for an introductory reader. I have tried very hard to make this as basic as possible. Jacob Jensen 21:53, 4 April 2007 (CDT)

Old draft version

Anyone know why this had a draft version? The article is no approved so I deleted the draft page and put the content here, in case some of it can be salvaged. Chris Day (talk) 06:31, 11 October 2007 (CDT)