Beautiful Chemistry

CoCl2 in Na2SiO3 solution. Image credit: BeautifulChemistry.net

By Antonino Puglisi

Chemistry is all around us! The Earth, the whole universe including our own bodies are fundamentally composed of just the 92 chemical elements in the periodic table. Our very experience of the natural world with its beautiful display of colors, smells and tastes is enabled and mediated by atoms and molecules. Often our relationship with natural phenomena is one of awe and appreciation. I still remember the sheer joy when, in my analytical chemistry classes at University, I assisted for the first time at the formation of the deep blue cobalt hydroxide precipitating out in its extravagant shapes in my test tube.

Now, an initiative born from the collaboration between The University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) and Tsinghua University Press (TUP) brings the beauty of chemistry to the public. Through UltraHD camera and macro lenses chemical reactions are captured in astonishing detail giving a unique aesthetic experience to the viewers, making chemistry more approachable and lovable. Thousands of people have visited the website, and the chemical reaction videos have been viewed over 5 million times! I would definitely recommend watching them.

Close proximity to natural phenomena reminds us that beauty is not fashion, something that one might find beautiful today but will not find beautiful, let us say 10 years from now. It does point towards something else. Above all, it gives us a language, a space, in which we can converse with artists and poets about reality.

AgNO3+ NaCl → AgCl + NaNO3. Image credit: BeautifulChemistry.net

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