Discovery Science: Chemistry – Inorganic Chemistry – With Retorts and Computers

Earth Science: Chemistry – Inorganic Chemistry – The Work of Chemists

Chemistry has its origins in the world of alchemy. It includes the search for the chemical structure of even the minutest quantities of materials.

From nanotechnology to macroscale production, chemists seek new materials and more useful products using both computers and traditional laboratory equipment.

Earth Science: Chemistry – Inorganic Chemistry – With Retorts and Computers

Even though computers are a part of every chemistry lab, there are still researchers who synthesize new materials every day. The job of a professional chemist is more varied than many imagine.

If we create a picture of a chemist at work, most of us will probably think of people in white coats using test tubes and retorts (distilling glasses) to mix substances in a lab. The actual routine of chemists is very different from this, especially for industrial chemists. For industry, production procedures that have been discovered need to be applied on a large scale. In order to accomplish this task, industrial chemists work in pilot plants, are involved in control engineering, and perform numerous calculations.

The responsibilities of a chemist include participation in an additional interface be- tween research and production. Chemists help client firms to market the products in an efficient and safe manner and advise them on how the product should be developed in the future, in order to promote further marketing success. A few chemists working in universities, government agencies, and research departments of private industry fit the classic image of a chemist at work.

They work in a “preparative” capacity; that is, they produce new substances with a large repertoire of methods and instruments. One of the most common of these methods is the conversion of raw materials or reactants into a solution. The solution is boiled and the vaporized materials that come from the retort are condensed in a vertical cooler, so that it flows back to the retort. Chemists call this procedure reverse flow injection.

While the analytical chemistry is very much the core of the field of chemistry (analyzing compounds for their properties) there exists many other fields such as biochemistry that study the chemical reactions in living matter. Biochemists have an important role producing compounds that are used in pharmaceutical drugs.

Theoretical physicists can often be found in the field of physics working on nanotechnology and astrochemistry. Chemistry is often thought of as the “central science,” connecting all the branches of science together.


For chemists, computers are as important as retorts. With them, theoretical chemists can predict the structure and properties of molecules and, for example, simulate the shape of the molecules of a nonexistent drug and deduce its properties.

Only after simulation shows the feasibility of a new drug will a company invest the money needed to synthesize the sub- stance and bring it to market. Others are using computers to search for non-medical substances used in industrial processes like electrolysis or welding.