A chemist, James Alexander (2016), States that chemistry is, “The science that embraces the properties, composition, and structure of matter, the changes in structure and composition that matter undergoes, and the accompanying energy changes.” Because of this being able to balance an equation is an extremely important part of chemistry. In fact K. Lee Lerner (2016) even states, “Chemical reactions describe the changes between reactants (What we put into a mixture is a reactant) and products (After the products react and make a new substance).” That definition is pretty similar to the definition of overall chemistry to me . Now , onto the meat of balancing an equation, there are five basic types of reactions , Single replacement , Double replacement, reduction, synthesis , breakdown. There are basic rules to balancing the equation . First your charges on both sides . If someone is going to balance and equation he needs to have the same amount of one element or molecule on both sides of the equation . Look at H20 a synthesis reaction.
In H2O there are two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen the equation is going to look like this
H2 + 0 H2O the two elements combined and formed something new , in this case it was water.
See how it has two Hydrogen and one oxygen on both sides . Also take note that hydrogen is a positive one charge and oxygen is negative two so it becomes 2-2=0 and since the charges lead to zero they are balanced on both sides.
Now let’s look at a double replacement reaction. These are more difficult and as it is “To reactants form two different compounds”The first steps for this is going to be similar to the synthesis reaction because we will look at all of the individual charges and see if they equal zero on the equation . Let’s look at Na2s+2HCl . Sodium has a positive one charge and their is two of it so it balances out with the sulfurs negative 2 charge. The same goes for the other side it has hydrogen and chlorine both of which has a positive and negative one charge so that is also canceled out. Now were free to balance the equation.
Fortunately for us this equation is balanced and has an equal amount of the same thing on both sides . What I want to look at for the double replacement equation is that for these to be correct you have to switch the anion and the cation for you to get the correct answer.
Now that we know two forms of balancing the equation let’s look at the everyday applications. Let’s say that a man, Joe, fills his water mug and looks outside the window too see the sprinklers going off .This is one of the synthesis reaction. Remember how H2O was used as a synthesis reaction in the first paragraph. Well that’s water and a balanced equation that is currently in joe’s cup .we’ve already explained that H2O, water is an example of a synthesis equation and it has two hydrogen and oxygen that come together to form water in his now dewy lawn . Let pretend that Joe is having water melon. But unlike the synthesis reaction in your lawn and water mug, there is a double replacement reaction that has happened with the salt on Joe’s watermelon. The equation is going to be. . .
Salt water , the positive sodium ion has bonded with the water molecules in the water melon or in other words , has “dissolved”.These are just two of the many ways chemical balancing is used by us in our day to day lives . Let’s say that you live near the beach , well that whole ocean is filled with salt and water similar to the watermelon Joe ate for breakfast . Let’s assume Joe has a social life and he is going to a bonfire. Do you think he realizes that combustion is another chemical equation happening right in front of him? His friends have added energy to wood and its releasing carbon dioxide and water vapor into the air in the form of gas from the fire. Everyone is touched by the concept of balancing the equation every single day whether we realize it or not . Even when looking at pills and cleaning products and thinking “Oh there must be much more than just to elements reacting in this bottle” , we are most likely wrong. Balancing the equation is arguably the point of chemistry because it tells us what we put together and what we get from it . If balancing the equation didn’t work then neither would the sprinklers , the fire ,or even cleaning products like they are expected to.
Overlooking a balanced equations is a bad habit of ours. Just like overlooking our natural resources such as the ocean and our water supply in the middle of a water crisis. But academia could discover a way to alleviate the problem. There are a lot of reasons that a drought would occur causing certain areas of the earth to become barren . For example “California’s lovely deserts are entering their 6th year of drought” (“Drought Facts” 2016) and scientists struggle finding ways to make the energy needed to distill water from the salty ocean . Moreover meteorologists are just given the skill to predict when the disaster is going to happen in a certain area. Yet, what if there was a way for meteorologists to be trained to not only predict the weather but also to learn how to create rain in the atmosphere to help afflicted areas. How?, with atmosphere chemistry . The atmosphere is filled with nitrogen and oxygen and other elements that with training a meteorologist could manipulate into creating precipitation. These two skills, tracking and creating weather, go hand in hand and would help the general population and keeping track of what mother nature is doing. Let’s go in depth of what weather sculpting really means and how that can help solve the water crisis. Weather sculpting or the scholarly term for it “atmospheric crafting” is the process of adding chemicals or elements to the atmosphere in order to cause a certain effect to be happening in our instance rain. We could add hydrogen to the oxygen in the atmosphere and theoretically get more rainfall. However our atmosphere isn’t a treasure chest filled with just gold , the gale encyclopedia states “The concentration of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere has risen approximately 18 percent in the last 200 years.”(2014) . It’s so important to get rain down to earth but oxygen is already bonded with nitrogen . But the oxygen is already mixing with the nitrogen what if it doesn’t bond with the hydrogen. Even so, if we send up more hydrogen the rain showers may still increase and we could separate the two for water.
1.Nagel, Miriam C., and K. Lee Lerner. “Atmospheric chemistry.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Science, edited by K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, 5th ed., Gale, 2014. Science in Context, ez1.maricopa.edu:2048/login?url=http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/scic/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=true&displayGroupName=Reference&currPage=&scanId=&query=&search_within_results=&p=SCIC&mode=view&catId=GALE%7CEMCRVO836513736&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CLPXLBJ604452528&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=&source=Bookmark&u=mcc_chandler&jsid=23afe5e492a8527702cd373871d3b043. Accessed 22 Nov. 2016.
Source: McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 6th ed., McGraw-Hill Education, New York, 2003
- Article by:
Moore, James Alexander Formerly, Department of Chemistry, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware.
Lerner, K. Lee, and Pang-Jen Kung. “Chemical reactions.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Science, edited by K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, 5th ed., Gale, 2014. Science in Context, ez1.maricopa.edu:2048/login?url=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CV2644030463/SCIC?u=mcc_chandler&xid=b52654dc. Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.
- California Drought – Drought facts
November 3, 2016