Who created chemistry? When did chemistry begin? Who invented modern chemistry? Who is the founder of chemistry? When did chemistry begin It is not uncommon to hear chemistry teachers ask their students these questions. Similarly, it is not uncommon for these students to make arguments on which is the right answer. You may wonder, but these seem like questions that have straightforward answers. So, why do students have to argue? Or you may be a student of chemistry who is unsure of the right answer to give.
The truth is that there are disagreements on who truly invented chemistry or who is the father of chemistry. In this article, you will be learning about the different contributors to chemistry. So, keep reading.
Who Invented Chemistry?
The credit for the invention of chemistry goes to two great men, Jābir ibn Hayyān and Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier. This article will be discussing their individual invention and contributions to chemistry.
Abu Musa Jābir ibn Hayyān
Abu Musa Jābir ibn Hayyān was a Muslim alchemist, scientist, astronomer, and philosopher in the eighth century. He was one of the first scientists to use scientific ways for studying materials. His followers and some scholars call him the father of (early) chemistry. In his lifetime, Jābir ibn Hayyān wrote about twenty-two works on chemistry. These works detailed scientific ways of sublimation, evaporation, crystallization, and distillation. Furthermore, Jābir ibn Hayyān designed a tool that studies and purifies acids. He named this device “the alembic”. Jābir ibn Hayyān proceeded to categorize chemical systems based on the materials he used for his studies.
One of the categories is that of “spirits” which means materials that bring out vapor when they pass through heat. The next category is “metals” which include tin, iron, lead, and copper. Another category is “non-malleable substances” which means materials that can take powder forms when crushed or dissolved.
Jābir ibn Hayyān’s work spread both near and far and in Europe, the Europeans called him “Geber”. As an alchemist, having a pharmacist father stirred his passion for chemistry. Jābir ibn Hayyān also learned alchemy (what is called chemistry today) under the tutelage of Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq. He didn’t just learn chemistry from him, he learned medicine, pharmacy, astronomy, and philosophy.
Now, while Jābir ibn Hayyān was a great alchemist, his followers exaggerated many of his contributions. Some even went as far as stating that he authored more than a thousand works on the subjects philosophy, alchemy, and chemistry. This made some scholars doubt that he even existed.
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier
Whenever a person asks, “Who is the father of chemistry?” the name Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier pops up in a student’s mind. Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier was a French chemist who lived between 1743 – 1794. He was a prominent figure, one who revolutionized chemicals by developing a theory based on how oxygen deactivates. It was also Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier who provided the system used to name chemical substances.
As a student, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier studied a type of chemistry whose concept did not give much clarity. Also, most philosophers focused that earth, fire, water, and air as the most important natural substances of matter. So, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier gave attention to examining compounds that take form when one mixes acids with alkalis. Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier had many successful experiments and this was largely because he had the money to finance it. Thus, he could afford costly tools for his design and also work directly with experienced researchers. Till today, chemistry teachers teach their students “Lavoisier’s law” which shows how successful he was. This is also why many of his followers, students, and other scholars refer to him as the father of modern chemistry.
Unfortunately, during the French revolution, the state executed Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier because of his link to finances and public administration.
Jābir ibn Hayyān and Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier
One of the reasons scholars prefer to credit Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier as the father of chemistry is because of the exaggeration surrounding Jābir ibn Hayyān’s work. Indeed, according to research, Jābir ibn Hayyān’s work preceded Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier. This is because Jābir ibn Hayyān carried out his work in the eighth century while Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier’s was in the eighteenth century. In a bid to establish the authority of Jābir ibn Hayyān, his followers and students made high claims of his work in chemistry. One claim that stands is that he authored over a thousand works on the subjects philosophy, alchemy, and chemistry. Even if Jābir ibn Hayyān did publish work on these subjects, a thousand would have been impossible for him to do
When researchers fact-checked these claims, they found out that most of them were false. In fact, so numerous were these false claims that they overshadowed Jābir ibn Hayyān’s real work. This is why even to this day, some scholars contest his contribution and existence.
Another chemist who scholars often refer to as the father of modern chemistry is Robert Boyle. This man lived between 1627–1691. Robert Boyle was the one who found out that gas reduces when there is an increase in pressure. Similarly, pressure increases when there is a reduction in the volume of a gas. This discovery is the law of gases that scholars today call Boyle’s law.
Who Invented the Mole in Chemistry?
The credit for the invention of the mole in chemistry goes to Amedeo Avogrado. Amedeo Avogrado was an Italian mathematical physicist who lived between 1776 – 1856. It was because of his invention of the molecular hypothesis in chemistry that scholars named the “Avogrado’s law” after him. The Avogrado’s law states that when they are under the right pressure and temperature, gases with equal volumes have the same amount of molecules.
The Biography of Amedeo Avogrado
Amedeo Avogrado was born to Filippo Avogrado who was an influential and respected man of his time. As a result of this, Amedeo Avogrado had one of the best education (he studied law). However, Amedeo Avogrado was not interested in pursuing law. Rather, he was fascinated by mathematics. So, what he did was steal away to study mathematics and physics in secret.
His studying paid off as four years after, the Academy of Sciences of Turin accepted him to be a member of their institution. Two years after, the college appointed him to the post of demonstrator. In 1809, three years after, Amedeo Avogrado earned his professor qualification. In 1820, nearly 11 years after, he became the chairperson of mathematical physics at the University of Turin. Unfortunately, certain events caused the University to shut down, thus resulting in Amedeo Avogrado losing his chair position.
Yet, fortune smiled on him again. Ten years after the University closed, the chair was restored but they gave it to another mathematical physicist. However, this physicist left a year after and Amedeo Avogrado took back the chair.
What is Combinatorial Chemistry?
Combinatorial chemistry is a type of chemistry that implores a method in the laboratory to test millions of molecules for how they act biologically. This chemistry has gathered many specific molecules which it uses for testing.
Who invented chemistry? Now you know the great men of the past who contributed greatly to this subject. So you could choose Jābir ibn Hayyān, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, or Robert Boyle as the father of chemistry.