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A Modest Proposal, [Scientifically Demonstrated]: Chemistry is the only Necessary General Education Requirement: 

A Modest Proposal, [Scientifically Demonstrated]: Chemistry is the only Necessary General Education Requirement 0 Ed Vitz


Acknowledgements Thanks to nominators and supporters Excuse my Diletantism… Thanks to Carlson Chambliss for establishing a means of recognizing research accomplishments


“Demarcation” “But what distinguishes knowledge from superstition, ideology or pseudoscience? The Catholic Church excommunicated Copernicans, the Communist Party persecuted Mendelians on the ground that their doctrines were pseudoscientific. But then the problem of the demarcation between science and pseudoscience is not merely a problem of armchair philosophy: it is of vital social and political relevance.” [Not to mention ID] “A fish is not an expert in hydrodynamics” In answer to Stephen Toulmin, discussing a sociological demarcation of science Imre Lakatos

The Ambit of Chemistry: 

The Ambit of Chemistry "The Ambit of Chemistry," E. Vitz, J. Chem. Educ., 56, 327 (1979). “Demarcation” of scientific disciplines

Demarcation: A Contemporary Issue: 

Demarcation: A Contemporary Issue Election Statements by contenders for President of ACS: Catherine T. Hunt Now, more than ever, we need to engage the next generation in the exciting and challenging field that is science. My 14-year-old son frequently says, "Mom, you would have everyone believe that everything is based on chemistry!" And I smile and say, "So, you've been listening!"


Demarcation: A Contemporary Issue Election Statements by contenders for President of ACS: George E. Heinze Our Challenges. We see a confluence of basic questions challenging us: Who is a chemist, what constitutes chemistry, and how should chemistry be taught? These questions are deeply intertwined and can no longer be ignored.

Professional Definition of “Chemical”: 

Professional Definition of “Chemical” Michael Heylin, C&EN May 9, 1994 “To a chemist, a lettuce leaf, a cucumber, or any other tangible thing is chemical. They are chemical in the sense that they can be analyzed, studied, and largely understood in chemical terms.” “The ACS will award $1,000,000 to anyone who can name anything you can touch that isn’t a chemical.” Vitz, E., “Common Meaning of ‘Chemical’,” Chemical & Engineering News, 5/20/91, p. 2

Wittgenstein [1889-1951].: 

Wittgenstein [1889-1951]. “Everyday language is a part of the human organism and is no less complicated than it. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921. “The meaning of an expression is its use in the multiplicity of practices which go to make up language”. There is no denotative link between names and referents. Grayling, A.C., “Wittgenstein,” Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1988, p. 67. The everyday language of chemists is not consistent with “Everything is a chemical”! (“Chemical Senses”)

Proof that Perception is Chemistry: Ferrioxalate Actinometer: 

Proof that Perception is Chemistry: Ferrioxalate Actinometer Prepare a solution of potassium tris(oxalato)ferrate (III) in a buffered solution of 1,10-phenanthroline. Flash with a strobe. Vitz, E. The Ferrioxalate Actinometer, J. Chem. Educ. 58, 655 (1981).

Chemistry of Vision: 

Chemistry of Vision All-trans-Retinol (Vitamin A) 11-cis-Retinal Rhodopsin: 11-cis-Retinal/opsin complex Zurer, Pamela S., “The Chemistry of Vision,” C&EN November 28, 1983,p. 24. Hayward, G., et al, Science, 211, 1981, 942-944.

George Wald: Photoreception: 

George Wald: Photoreception George Wald, Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1967 for his monumental contributions to our understanding of the molecular basis of photoreception [he hired an organic chemist to do some of it…] “The Origin of Death”


Perception/Afterimages 1. Stare at a photographic strobe held at arm’s length and flash it to see the afterimage. 2. With your hand about a foot from your eye, point a finger upward and “balance” the afterimage on the tip of your finger. 3. Move the finger to the left and right to make sure the afterimage is balanced. 4. Move the finger toward you and away from you. What do you see?

Physics: Perception: 

Physics: Perception lens retina afterimage flash EYE One real physical effect causes the angular size of the moon's image on the retina to be about 2% smaller when it's on the horizon, compared to its size at the zenith. This is due to the fact that the moon is one earth radius farther away when observed on the horizon. This size change from zenith to horizon is much smaller, and in the opposite sense to the moon effect. A change of such a small amount is not large enough to be noticed with our unaided visual system. Some people suppose the moon effect to be due to atmospheric refraction. Refraction effects can be measured with instruments or cameras, and we find that refraction actually makes the moon's disk subtend a smaller angle in the sky than it would have if the atmosphere were not present.

The Moon Illusion: 

The Moon Illusion The moon illusion is one of the most famous of all illusions. Stated simply, the full moon, when just above the horizon, appears much larger than when it is overhead. Yet the moon, a quarter of a million miles away from the earth, always subtends the same angle wherever it is in the sky, roughly 0.5 degrees. Kaufman, L. and Rock, I. "The Moon Illusion: I," Science, 1962, 136, p. 953-961. Kaufman, L. and Rock, I. "The Moon Illusion: II," Science, 1962, 136, p. 1023-1031. Kaufman, L. and Rock, I. "The Moon Illusion." Scientific American, July 1962, 207(1) Cover and p. 120-130.

The Ponsi Illusion: 

The Ponsi Illusion Emmert’s Law: “You see with your mind, not with your eye.” “Perception is 90% conception”

Emmert's Law: 

Emmert's Law Michael Bross Emmert's law in the dark: active and passive proprioceptive effects on positive visual afterimages Perception 2000, volume 29, number 11, pages 1385 - 1391 Richard Gregory, Editorial, Perception, Vol. 27, 1998 If a briefly presented visual stimulus is followed closely in time by a bright flash or `pattern mask', it will be rendered invisible. This phenomenon of `backward masking' tells us that the neural processing of a visual stimulus can be disrupted before it reaches the part of the brain where consciousness arises. Michael Morgan Making holes in the visual world

Perception (Consciousness?) IS Chemistry: 

Perception (Consciousness?) IS Chemistry Moving the hand sends chemical signals down the arm to the spinal cord and to the brain, where they interact with the chemical signals from the eye, changing the location of the images. Lithium treatments Oxytocin and vasopressin…memory of social relationships Chemical treatments of schizophrenia Can everything be reduced to chemistry? Will the scientist who finds that all human behavior is dictated by the laws of chemistry claim that discovery as his own?

The Mind/Body Problem: Reductionism: 

The Mind/Body Problem: Reductionism Drawings by Roderick M. Chisholm in Richard Taylor, Metaphysics, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs NJ, 1974, p. 19. See also Michael Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension, Doubleday, 1966; V.C. Chappell, Ed., The Philosophy of Mind, Prentice Hall, NJ, 1962; John O’Connor, Ed., Modern Materialism: Readings on the Mind-Body Identity, Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1969.

Mind/Body Theories: 

Mind/Body Theories [Cartesian: violates 2nd law and E conservation] [Brain activity causes both body action and thought, which is illusory]

Mind/Body Theories: 

Mind/Body Theories [God is the link between mental and physical] [correlation without causation: two clocks] [God preestablishes the corresponding paths of the mental and physical]

“Chemistry” Defined: 

PV = nRT TiCl4, (CH3CH2)3Al Ziegler-Natta With apologies to Nick Downes, “Big Science,” AAAS Press, 1992, p10. “Chemistry” Defined

“Chemistry” Defined: 

“Chemistry” Defined is the study (explanation, understanding) of anything in terms of the properties of its constituent atoms and molecules. Chemistry Is perception chemistry?

Disciplines defined by Subject: 

Disciplines defined by Subject Sociology: group behavior of people and other animals Anthropology: human activity in historical context Geology: minerals Entomology: insects Human nutrition: Food Astrophysics: Space and its contents Many disciplines are defined by the subject of their study, as well as by their methods.

“Physics” Defined: 

Nick Downes, “Big Science,” AAAS Press, 1992, p10. “Physics” Defined

Balloon Explosion: 

Balloon Explosion The Grim Silence of Facts* [without theories, mind] A Chemical Balloon Explosion; Why? “Every sort of shouting is a transitory thing. It is the grim silence of facts that counts.” Joseph Conrad H2 + O2  2 H2O No “physical” change would be that exciting!

Hydrogen Balloon Explosion: History: 

Hydrogen Balloon Explosion: History Lakehurst/New Jersey, May 6th 1937, 7 pm: The "Hindenburg" has come all the way from Europe - a luxurious flying hotel, faster than any ship. The pride of the Third Reich prepares to land, and hundreds of onlookers have gathered to watch. Then, all of a sudden, a burst of flame just forward of the upper fin. In a matter of seconds, the largest airship ever built goes down in a fiery blaze. Actual broadcast:

Hydrogen Balloon Explosion: Economics (Hydrogen economy): 

Hydrogen Balloon Explosion: Economics (Hydrogen economy) CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI Prince Edward Island Premier Pat Binns and Randall MacEwen, Vice President, Corporate Development of Hydrogenics Corporation (Nasdaq: HYGS; TSX: HYG), announced today that Hydrogenics and Prince Edward Island Energy Corporation will lead a consortium of industry and government partners to develop Canada’s first wind-hydrogen village demonstration - the Prince Edward Island (PEI) Wind-Hydrogen Village Project. This multi-faceted initiative will demonstrate, in real-life and in real-time, how wind energy and hydrogen technologies can work together to offer clean and sustainable energy solutions across a wide range of applications.

H2 + 1/2 O2  H2O: 

O H2 + 1/2 O2  H2O H2 + 1/2 O2  H2O (g)  Hf = -241.82 kJ/mol* 0 H2 H2 H2 H2 H2 H2 H2 O2 O2 O2 O2 O2 O2 N2 N2 N2 N2 N2 N2 N2 N2 H2O H2O H = 0.16 mol x -241.82 kJ/mol = 38.7 kJ * Heat of formation: Enthalpy change for formation of 1 mole of a substance in its standard state, from the elements in their standard states.

Explore the Chemistry: 

Explore the Chemistry This explosion is slow (!) due to diffusion of gases over large distance…real explosions are supersonic (physics?). Use Chemistry to… Speed it up…reduce distance between collisions…Mix the H2 and O2 !!! Demo: Water is electrolyzed, the gases combined to blow bubbles in a soap solution in a viewer’s hand and exploded. First done by Michael Faraday (1791-1867) in 1826* ! *“The Art and Science of Lecture Demonstration,” Charles Taylor, p. 92.

A Challenge: 

A Challenge Chemistry deserves to be in the menu of General Education Courses. Do any other disciplines? Can there be reasons for a balloon breaking? We’ve exploded balloons chemically, that is, provided a chemical reason for a balloon popping. philosophical physical Human kinetics biological Sociological/Political Science psychological musical


Music In art, we experience vicariously* what might lead to conflict, war, injury, insult if practiced in actuality. We explore and resolve moral conflict… Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture A sombre mood is set at the outset by eight solo cellos intoning the theme of a Russian hymn, 'God preserve Thy people‘ 0-2:00) which returns in full instrumental panoply near the end (2:00-3:45) *Edward Bullough, “ ‘Psychical distance’ as a Factor in Art and an Esthetic Principle”, British Journal of Psychology, Volume V, 1913. “I am making the apparently paradoxical suggestion that play is the prophylactic of war…the phenomenon of catharsis, the purgation of the emotions recognized by the Greeks as taking place in their drama…discharge of aggressive impulses”** **Herbert Read, “The Redemption of the Robot: My Encounter with Education Through Art”, Simon & Shuster, New York, 1966, p. xxiii.

Themes: W.J.Comer (Univ. of Kansas, KU): 

Themes: W.J.Comer (Univ. of Kansas, KU) Peter Ilich Chaikovskii (1840-1893), Russian composer of orchestra music, ballet and opera scores. For the dedication ceremony for the Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow, Chaikovsky wrote the 1812 Overture. The music was to set the tone for the celebrations around the new Church, which was erected with public donations in thanksgiving for and commemoration of the Russian victory over Napoleon in the War of 1812. In the section below you will find links to mp3 audio files containing parts of the overture, together with some commentary on what musically is going on in the passage. Preview the different themes of the work before listening to the whole of the overture (which runs approximately 16 minutes). You should be able to play these files with the QuickTime player, with Windows MediaPlayer or other media players. The piece opens with the somber tones of a Russian Church chant, recalling that the declaration of war was announced at Church services in Russia and then immediately followed by a solemn chant for Russian success in the war. This announcement and public reaction was captured in fiction in Leo Tolstoi's War and Peace. There follows a theme of marching of armies, carried out by the horns. Another theme used in the early part of the overture is the initial notes of the French national anthem The Marseillaise which begins "Allons enfants de la patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé!" The French anthem reflects the early French victories in the war, including the capture of Moscow in September 1812.

Themes: W.J. Comer: 

Themes: W.J. Comer This is followed by a Russian folk dance theme, which commemorates the national unity that developed in beating back Napoleon. While Napoleon could be more daring in battle, the Russians had patience and the people on their side to wait out the invador and wear down his enthusiasm. The French retreat from Moscow began in late October 1812. Caught in the Russian winter for which they were ill-prepared and hounded by local resistance and guerrilla warfare, the French Army suffers great losses. This is reflected in the dizzying spirals of a diminuendo. The firing of cannons reflects the Russian military advances in forcing the French further toward the borders. With the military conflict over, we return to a solemn Church chant to give thanks for the victory and the liberation of Russia from French occupation. Below the triumphant cannons and the horns, we hear the strains of the victorious Russian national anthem beginnning with the words: "God, save the Tsar!". The Russian anthem makes an important counterpoint to the French anthem that was heard earlier. Now that you are familiar with some of the individual themes that come up in the work, listen to the whole recording. (Note: This file is almost 4MB in size; it will take a while to download over a modem connection.) These selections are taken from a recording of the 1812 Overture, opus 49, conducted by Antal Dorati, recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, DC, produced by London records, 1975, 1978. Page composed by William Comer Last updated March 9, 2001

Cozy Powell: 

Cozy Powell 1812 Overture 2:00; 2:34

Disciplinary Explanations: 

Disciplinary Explanations Sociology/Political Science “…I bet your group isn’t cohesive enough to cooperate on breaking this balloon” Why did it break? Group cohesiveness Biology: Strength of muscles; latex-degrading microorganisms Physics: Forces; shear, stretch Economics: I’ll give you $5 to break this balloon. Human Kinetics: Start with empty balloon. How many VOmax will it take? Philosophy: Why did the balloon break? Because I have free will and wanted to break it. Music: On Beat.

General Education: 

General Education Richard Feynman: “The world looks so different after learning science. For example, trees are made of air, primarily. When they are burned, they go back to air, and in the flaming, heat is released, the flaming heat of the sun which was bound in to convert the air into tree. And in the ash is the small remnant of the part which did not come from air, that came from the solid earth, instead.

Chemistry As Gen Ed: 

Chemistry As Gen Ed 1. Baker, Dorothy. J. Chem. Educ. 1927, 4, 1128. 2. Simons, J. J. J. Chem. Educ. 1935, 12, 461. 3. Hopkins, B. S. J. Chem. Educ. 1935, 12, 418. 4. Tro Nivaldo J., Chemistry as General Education, J. Chem. Educ. 2004, 81. 5. Bent, Henry A., “A Dialog Concerning the Two Chief World Systems: Art and Science, J.Chem. Educ. 1981, 58, 331 It’s not the course, it’s the teacher: Passionate about the discipline and expression in language and mathematics and sophisticated about its connections with other disciplines.



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