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ERIC Number: EJ920323
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 20
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
What Chemists Do
Olmsted, John, III
Journal of Chemical Education, v87 n10 p1045-1049 Oct 2010
An analysis is presented of the varieties of activities that have been recognized in the Nobel Prizes in chemistry. Five different varieties are identified: exploration, description, synthesis, theorizing, and measurement. Prizes in chemistry have been distributed roughly equally among these five categories. The number of awards in each category is nearly the same for each quarter-century, suggesting that as one area of study matures, new ones open up for exploration. A similar analysis of Nobel Prizes in physics reveals some similarities but also significant differences. In particular, synthesis is an activity unique to chemistry. The results of these analyses show that chemists use and value a variety of scientific methods. Explorations of the reducibility of chemistry to physics need particularly to address the reducibility of synthesis. (Contains 3 tables.)
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A