Chemistry (from Egyptian kēme (chem), meaning "earth") is the science concerned with the composition, behavior, structure, and properties of matter, as well as the changes it undergoes during chemical reactions. It is a physical science for studies of various atoms, molecules, crystals and other aggregates of matter whether in isolation or combination, which incorporates the concepts of energy and entropy in relation to the spontaneity of chemical processes. Modern chemistry evolved out of alchemy following the chemical revolution (1773).
Disciplines within chemistry are traditionally grouped by the type of matter being studied or the kind of study. These include inorganic chemistry, the study of inorganic matter; organic chemistry, the study of organic matter; biochemistry, the study of substances found in biological organisms; physical chemistry, the energy related studies of chemical systems at macro, molecular and submolecular scales; analytical chemistry, the analysis of material samples to gain an understanding of their chemical composition and structure. Many more specialized disciplines have emerged in recent years, e.g. neurochemistry the chemical study of the nervous system (see subdisciplines).
Chemistry is the scientific study of interaction of chemical substances that are constituted of atoms or the subatomic particles: protons, electrons and neutrons. Atoms combine to produce molecules or crystals. Chemistry is often called "the central science" because it connects the other natural sciences such as astronomy, physics, material science, biology, and geology.
The genesis of chemistry can be traced to certain practices, known as alchemy, which had been practiced for several millennia in various parts of the world, particularly the Middle East.
The structure of objects we commonly use and the properties of the matter we commonly interact with, are a consequence of the properties of chemical substances and their interactions. For example, steel is harder than iron because its atoms are bound together in a more rigid crystalline lattice; wood burns or undergoes rapid oxidation because it can react spontaneously with oxygen in a chemical reaction above a certain temperature; sugar and salt dissolve in water because their molecular/ionic properties are such that dissolution is preferred under the ambient conditions.
The transformations that are studied in chemistry are a result of interaction either between different chemical substances or between matter and energy. Traditional chemistry involves study of interactions between substances in a chemistry laboratory using various forms of laboratory glassware.
A chemical reaction is a transformation of some substances into one or more other substances. It can be symbolically depicted through a chemical equation. The number of atoms on the left and the right in the equation for a chemical transformation is most often equal. The nature of chemical reactions a substance may undergo and the energy changes that may accompany it are constrained by certain basic rules, known as chemical laws.
Energy and entropy considerations are invariably important in almost all chemical studies. Chemical substances are classified in terms of their structure, phase as well as their chemical compositions. They can be analyzed using the tools of chemical analysis, e.g. spectroscopy and chromatography.
Chemistry is an integral part of the science curriculum both at the high school as well as the early college level. At these levels, it is often called "general chemistry" which is an introduction to a wide variety of fundamental concepts that enable the student to acquire tools and skills useful at the advanced levels, whereby chemistry is invariably studied in any of its various sub-disciplines. Scientists, engaged in chemical research are known as chemists. Most chemists specialize in one or more sub-disciplines.