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Old 10-19-2018, 03:23 AM
100 posts, read 36,047 times
Reputation: 65


I have always thought of math, physics and chemistry as "the big three" in science;
in fact, those are the subjects that I needed to pass in high school in order to enter my current course in Engineering Physics.
But for some reason it seems like math and physics tend to be mentioned together a lot, whereas chemistry is kind of like this special subject that's shoved to the side, and I don't understand the reason for this.
I have always thought that physics and chemistry are very similar in lots of ways, and both of them are definitely math-oriented.
The way I see it, the only real difference between physics and chemistry is that physics is on a macroscopic scale, whereas chemistry is on an microscopic scale;
You could probably say that chemistry is "physics on the microscopic scale", and just like physics, it deals a lot with forces, energies, thermodynamics, angular momentum and all of those things that are typically associated with physics.
So what's the matter here?
Is physics somehow "more closely linked" to math, and in that case, why?

Last edited by Markus86; 10-19-2018 at 03:37 AM..
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Old 10-19-2018, 03:50 PM
Location: Westwood, MA
3,483 posts, read 4,368,549 times
Reputation: 4482
First off, the big three of science are physics, chemistry, and biology. Math is great, but it's not science.

Second, physics and math are more closely linked because physics relies on math to a greater extent. And physics has influenced math to a much greater degree (calculus, distribution theory, group theory, differential geometry). Chemistry makes use of math, but it's more abstracted. Ultimately chemistry is just physics applied to atomic and molecular systems, but until recently the underlying physics is too complicated and is approximated away. So chemistry is a bit further from it's fundamental math basis.
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Old 10-19-2018, 04:32 PM
Location: Pacific 🌉 N, 🌄W
10,085 posts, read 4,174,433 times
Reputation: 6372
Math is a useful tool used in the major branches of science.
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Old 10-26-2018, 12:17 AM
176 posts, read 471,721 times
Reputation: 150
Chemistry and physics overlap completely in some areas...such as in quantum mechanics. But where chemistry involves molecules down to atoms down to electrons, protons, and neutrons. Physics goes even smaller to particles that make up protons and neutrons (quarks for example). Chemistry doesn’t typically involve these smaller particles, except maybe in the case where quantum theory for a quark or other particle studied in physics is similar to an electron or particle studied in chemistry. Math is the language of science accross both of these fields...and others. Math is not always involved though. Open an organic chemistry textbook and you won’t see much math. Organic is a mind boggling large area of study, and very important one. Same could be said of biochemistry.

So your example that physics is macroscopic and chemistry is microscopic isn’t correct because physics goes smaller than chemistry. And one could argue that chemistry can be macroscopic, such as the study of the color or other macroscopic property of a substance ( freezing points?) Also, I wouldnt use the term microscopic as that implies it involves matter that can be seen by a microscope. Let’s call it the “particulate” world for the study of molecules, atoms, and subatomic matter.

Chemistry is often called the central science as it connects physics to biology. it’s history goes way back to when people were trying to figure out how to turn regular everyday cheap material into gold (alchemy), and thus the field of chemistry specifically as the study of the transformation of matter (chemical reactions) was birthed long ago.

Fields of chemistry include;

Organic Chemistry
Inorganic chemistry
Analytical chemistry
Physical chemistry
Environmental chemistry

And fields of physics include;
Classical mechanics
Quantum mechanics
Particle physics and condensed matter physics

There are other categories I’m sure I missed, not an exhaustive list. Some of these are becoming very specialized, focused and even combined...such as organo-physical chemistry.
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Old 10-26-2018, 09:11 AM
Location: USA
141 posts, read 44,665 times
Reputation: 229
Math is the "alphabet, grammar, & 'language'" of science; a 'per-requisite'.
IF you can't do the (advanced) math, you won't get far on the physics and advanced chemistry.
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Old 10-27-2018, 02:39 PM
Location: Aurora Denveralis
3,106 posts, read 1,061,140 times
Reputation: 3992
If it stinks, it's chemistry.
If it wiggles, it's biology.
If it doesn't work, it's physics.
If you stopped studying it in high school, it's math.
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Old 10-27-2018, 03:35 PM
Location: Old Hippie Heaven
16,325 posts, read 7,144,603 times
Reputation: 9269
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
If it stinks, it's chemistry.
If it wiggles, it's biology.
If it doesn't work, it's physics.
If you stopped studying it in high school, it's math.
LOL! Not to mention succinct.
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Old 10-29-2018, 05:33 PM
Location: Land of the Caddo and Tonkawa
3,982 posts, read 1,499,500 times
Reputation: 5613
Math is a common platform that supports the sciences, rather than being a science per se.

It might be similar to comparing a written/spoken language to literature. The words, letters, and sentences are the "vehicle", not the art.
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Old Today, 11:04 PM
176 posts, read 471,721 times
Reputation: 150
Biology differs from math because in biology you have to divide before you can multiply.
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