Structural Biochemistry/General Chemistry

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General chemistry (sometimes called "gen chem" for short) is a course often taught at the high school and introductory university level. It is intended to serve as a broad introduction to a variety of concepts in chemistry and is widely taught. At the university level, it is also sometimes used as a "weed out" course for disciplines (sometimes related, sometimes not) which are perceived to require a high level of intellectual rigor or large course loads. It is also one of the few chemistry courses in most universities that does not explicitly explore a particular discipline such as organic chemistry or analytical chemistry.

General chemistry courses typically introduce concepts such as stoichiometry, prediction of reaction products, thermodynamics, nuclear chemistry, electrochemistry, chemical kinetics, and many of the rudiments of physical chemistry. Though the list of subjects covered is typically broad, leading some to criticize both the class and the discipline as encouraging memorization, most general chemistry courses are firmly grounded in several fundamental physical rules for which the primary challenge is understanding when the rules are applicable.

Concepts Taught[edit]

  1. Properties of Matter: An explanation of the most fundamental concept in chemistry: matter.
  2. Atomic Structure: While technically in the domain of physics, atoms determine the behavior of matter, making them a necessary starting point for any discussion of chemistry.
  3. Compounds and Bonding: Chemical bonding is introduced, which explains how less than one hundred naturally-occurring elements can combine to form all the different compounds that fill our world.
  4. Chemical Reactions: Things get interesting once chemical reactions start making and breaking bonds.
  5. Aqueous Solutions: Substances dissolved in water have special properties. This is when acids and bases are introduced.
  6. Phases of Matter: A detailed look at the organization of substances, with particular focus on gases.
  7. Chemical Equilibria: Chemical reactions don't go on forever. Equilibrium is the balance that reactions seek to achieve.
  8. Chemical Kinetics: Kinetics explain why it takes years for an iron nail to rust, but only a split second for a hydrogen-filled hot air balloon to explode.
  9. Thermodynamics: Two things decide which reactions can occur and which reactions cannot: heat and chaos. Or enthalpy and entropy, as they are called in thermodynamics
  10. Chemistries of Various Elements: An exploration of the elements that make up all substance. Includes an introduction to nuclear chemistry and carbon, the essence of organic chemistry.