You know that chemistry has an impact on your daily life, but the extent of that impact can be mind-boggling. Consider just the beginning of a typical day from a chemical point of view. Molecules align in the liquid crystal display of your clock, electrons flow through its circuitry to create a rousing sound, and you throw off a thermal insulator of manufactured polymer. You jump in the shower, to emulsify fatty substances on your skin and hair with chemically treated water and formulated detergents. You adorn yourself in an array of processed chemicals – pleasant-smelling pigmented materials suspended in cosmetic gels, dyed polymeric fibers, synthetic footware, and metal-alloyed jewelry. Today, breakfast is a bowl of nutrient-enriched, spoilage-retarded cereal and milk, a piece of fertilizer-grown, pesticide-treated fruit, and a cup of a hot, aqueous solution of neurally stimulating alkaloid. Ready to leave, you collect some books – processed cellulose and plastic, electrically printed with light-and-oxygen-resistant inks – hop in your hydrocarbon-fuelled metal-vinyl-ceramic vehicle, electrically ignite a synchronized series of controlled, gaseous explosions, and you’re off to class!
–Martin S. Silberberg