The Creation of Chemistry – The Fundamental Laws: Crash Course Chemistry #3

The Creation of Chemistry – The Fundamental Laws: Crash Course Chemistry #3

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You got a pretty good idea of what chemistry
is, right? It’s atoms and molecules doing stuff and making
cars and food and life and everything. And of course it’s the study of those things.
But like how did we get here? There’s certainly no everyday evidence for much of what we have discovered through the science of chemistry. Discoveries that were not derived or made
up, but just laws of the Universe that exist simply because the Universe is the way the Universe is. So in today’s episode of Crash Course Chemistry
we’re going to taking a bit of a historical perspective on the creation of the science
of chemistry. A science that didn’t really even exist until
a super-smart, super-wealthy French guy put the puzzle pieces together into a coherent
theory for, quite literally, how everything works. And if you’ve ever found yourself sitting
at your desk reading the same line in your chemistry book for the 22nd time, and you think to yourself “Gah, the guy who
invented chemistry should be put to death!” Well you should feel bad, because he was. [Theme Music] Antoine Lavoisier, was pretty fantastic. He was a geologist, a botanist, a biologist, and a physicist. He helped define the metric system, creating
an international language of chemistry, named hydrogen and oxygen, predicted the existence
of silicon, outlined what elements were, figured out how animals extracted energy from
food, determined that an element can take different forms on discovering that both ash and diamond contained pure carbon, published the very first chemistry textbook
ever, and there’s a reason why the Law of Conservation
of Mass used to be called Lavoisier’s Law. Born into a wealthy family, Lavoisier inherited a massive amount of money when his mom died when he was five years old. And though he did get licensed to practice law as his father expected him to follow in his lawyer-ly footsteps, young Antoine chose science instead. When the opportunity arose to marry a wealthy
girl whose father’s massive income came from collecting taxes for the French government,
he did it, even though she 13. A questionable decision, though not uncommon
at the time, it turned out that the family connections would be his undoing, though, not the age of the bride at her marriage. Marie-Anne, as she grew older, would become
a colleague as well as a wife, assisting Antoine in his experiments and his
analysis of the work of others. Indeed it was Marie-Anne who translated Essay
on Phlogiston for Antoine, which he ripped to pieces, changing everything
forever. Until Antoine Lavoisier started inspecting
everybody’s work, the prevailing theory of chemical change was
that some substances contained an elusive element called “phlogiston.” By burning these phlogiston-containing elements, they would lose their phlogiston, and become new things. Lavoisier took those theories and their research,
combined it with research being done elsewhere, and added in his own genius experiments and
then tore the chemical world to pieces, with a little thing called “combustion.” He determined that hydrogen wasn’t “inflammable
air,” it was an element. Indeed he named it hydrogen because it was
generated from water, or hydro-generated. And he determined that oxygen was a vital
ingredient for combustion and also what would later be known as oxidation, something that we’ll discuss quite a lot in this course. By hooking people up to his bizarre contraptions, he determined that burning wood consumed the
same amount of oxygen, and produced the same amount of carbon dioxide,
as people consuming food and breathing. Thus determining that people, and all animals,
are powered by some form of internal combustion. Now experimenters of the day (I hesitate to
call them chemists), noticed that when you burned something, its
massed decreased. Like here’s a fuse, and I put it on a scale
and I burn it, and its mass decreases. But Lavoisier determined that if all the particles
in gas are collected, like if I burn the fuse inside a closed bottle,
the mass stays the same. Stuff remained stuff. You can’t lose any,
you couldn’t make more. This realization, though it seems obvious to us now and its acceptance by the general scientific community, as far as I’m concerned, was the precise moment
at which alchemy ended and chemistry began. Lavoisier’s chief contributions, and ultimately his discovery of the Law of Conservation of Mass, relied on careful measurement and careful
thinking. And as you’ll see, both of those things are
key to success in chemistry to this day. Lavoisier the man was a bit of a dichotomy, having worked as a tax collector and helping
to create a literal wall around Paris to assist in the collection of taxes, but also a supporter of the French Revolution
as it began. But the enemies he had made with his wall, and by denying certain powerful politicians
entry into the French Academy of Sciences, eventually caught up with him as the revolution’s lunacy increased, he was beheaded on May 8th, 1794. Lavoisier was pardoned a year and a half after
his execution. So, that’s good. Marie-Anne was delivered all of his confiscated
belongings, and a note of apology, like “Sorry we killed your husband, here’s all
his stuff back.” The mathematician Joseph Lagrange said of
the event: “It took them only an instant to cut off that head, but France may not produce another like it in a century.” It’s worth noting, though this isn’t really
science talk, that Lavoisier couldn’t have done any of his
magnificently careful measurements had it not been for his enormous wealth. He commissioned the creation of hundreds of
pieces of equipment, large and small. Only the system of economic inequality that
the French were revolting against made it possible for Lavoisier to do his work. I’ll leave you to think on the implications
of that, on your own. Lavoisier’s work was, for a full century,
the basis of all chemistry. Proving that you don’t have to be rich to get a law (at least temporarily) named after you, French pharmacist Joseph Proust built on Lavoisier’s
ideas of extremely careful measurement showing that a chemical compound always contains
the same proportions of elements. For a while we called this Proust’s Law, but to make it easier to remember for the world we just call it the Law of Definite Proportions now. And then an English schoolteacher, John Dalton,
followed Proust by examining what at first appeared to be
a problem with Proust’s work. Carbon and oxygen, when reacted together, would form two different proportions, not just one. Of course what was happening is obvious to
us, carbon and oxygen were reacting to form two different compounds: carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. As Dalton’s work continued, he found something
truly mind-bendingly fascinating. If you limited the amount of carbon reacting
to exactly 1 g, the mass of oxygen consumed to produce one
compound was 1.33 g, while the mass consumed to produce the other
compound was 2.66 g, exactly double what was required for the other
compound. This shook out for other reactions, too. When reacting nitrogen and oxygen, and limiting to exactly one gram of nitrogen, three compounds formed. One compound consumed 1.750 g of oxygen, another
consumed 0.8750 g of oxygen, and another consumed 0.4374 g. All of those numbers are relatable by small
whole number ratios. Oxygen wasn’t reacting with some ephemeral
cloud of the idea of nitrogen, it was reacting with individual, discrete
bits of nitrogen, that couldn’t be divided. It could react in a number of ways, but it was always the same oxygen and the
same nitrogen with the same properties. And so while in our first episode we showed you how Einstein actually proved that atoms exist with super fancy math, Dalton had used multiplication to become the first person to actually have real data supporting the idea of atoms. Dalton still, though, had it kind of wrong. He thought that the products of his reactions
were elements as well. Basically, he believed that atoms and molecules
were the same thing. We often simplify this and don’t note Dalton’s
confusion on this particular point, but that leaves a couple of other fantastic
chemists out of the story. For example, Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac, who in 1804 became the highest scientist ever in history, by taking a hot-air balloon to the dangerous
height of 7,000 m to take air samples. But in addition to maybe being a little bit
crazy, Gay-Lussac published a paper showing that a volume of oxygen gas is two times smaller than the volume of water vapor it creates, indicating that somehow, oxygen was splitting
into two pieces. Dalton, would not accept this, because it
meant that oxygen was not one, but two atoms, and apparently that just messed with his whole
conception of the Universe, and he never did accept it, even unto his
death. It took an Italian house-elf — I mean genius, Lorenzo Romano Amadeo Carlo Avogadro di Quaregna
e di Cerreto. (I did it the first time.) We’ll just call him Amadeo Avogadro, but he
was a count, so he had to have a super-fancy name, and
I’m me, so I had to try and say it. Much like Lavoisier, Avogadro’s political
alliances would get him into trouble. After Napoleon’s downfall in 1815, Avogadro
was active in the Italian Anti-Monarchy Revolution, possibly even sponsoring some revolutionaries
with his personal fortune. For this he lost his chair at the University
of Turin, but thankfully he did not lose his head. Avogadro proposed, correctly, that any gas
in a container of the same size, with the same temperature and pressure, would have roughly the same number of molecules in it, no matter what the gas was. So any difference in mass between two flasks
of the same size full of two different gases would be because of a difference in the actual
physical mass of the molecules. And thus, Avogadro basically figured out how to weigh atoms and molecules, as long as they were gaseous. To support his hypothesis, which was certainly
good enough to support, he suggested that, in forming water, oxygen
gas would actually split into two oxygen atoms, what he called “elementary molecules” that
could not be broken down any further. For some fifty years, Avogadro’s idea of fundamental
molecules were ignored. Maybe because of incorrect ideas of how atoms
stuck together, maybe because Italy was a bit of a backwater
of science and Avogadro wasn’t considered an important
thinker at the time. But the scientific community, as it usually does, came back around to Avogadro’s ideas eventually. Not only naming his proposal that equal volumes
at the same temperature and pressure contained the same number of
molecules Avogadro’s Law, but also giving him his own number, maybe
the most important number in chemistry, certainly one of my very favorite numbers,
but we’ll get to that later. Thank you for watching this episode of Crash
Course Chemistry. If you were paying attention you now know
the story of how we went from alchemists, who thought that the element of fire hid inside
of substances just clamoring to get out, to chemists, who understood the Law of Conservation
of Mass, as proposed by a decapitated aristocrat. Greater understanding of how chemical compounds
work, thanks to a pharmacist and a schoolteacher. And eventually a complete understanding of
what atoms and molecules are, thanks to a neglected Italian house-elf — nobleman. This episode of Crash Course Chemistry, it
was written by myself, filmed and directed by Michael Aranda, and
edited by Nick Jenkins. The script was edited by Blake de Pastino and Dr. Heiko Langner. Michael Aranda is also our sound designer. Caitlin Hofmeister is our script supervisor
and our graphics team is Though Café. If you have any questions, please ask them
in the comments below. Thank you for learning with here at Crash
Course Chemistry.

100 thoughts on “The Creation of Chemistry – The Fundamental Laws: Crash Course Chemistry #3

  • Brian Freeman Post author

    Cause he was! lmao

  • Sai Sevithaa Post author

    Oh hankie thank you! Please be my chem teacher!

  • Sam Davis Post author

    I have an exam on Stoichometry tommorow and I don't even know about Ions or Polyatomics…anyone ever get to a point in a class where you don't even remeber learning it?

  • Josephine Mabano Post author

    "If it don't smell like wet, smelly socks, then it ain't a freshman's dormroom"

    find it.

  • my pranks the best Post author

    it's like a history class

  • Savannah Is Not Voiceless Post author

    Uh why does John Dalton have Harry’s mark? 😂😂😂😂😂

  • Shourish Mukherjee Post author

    3.9* 2.5 = 9 3/4

    I see what you did there

  • Aniketh Parkala Post author

    Nice hair

  • Sai Sevithaa Post author

    R.I.P all those scientists who were beheaded for the sake of CHEMISTRY! 😭

  • Ali Abouali Post author

    guys please tell me this isn’t grade 9 Chem

  • Nicole Boyer Post author

    Thank you for making crash course chemistry! You make learning chemistry easy and fun! You rock!

  • YO MAMA Post author

    Noticed your hair . It's weird.

  • MCGirl126 Post author

    Umm wow so today is May 8thh oof… anyways this video makes so much sense’ this will DEFINITELY help me with my tests and finals and it’s interesting too! I now am thinking so much deeper into the world 😀

  • Jack Tokmaji Post author

    many politics in that section :p

  • Sexy Jeff Post author

    What is an Hydrogen?

  • Huey Tran Post author

    He realy was high

  • Talia Eris Post author

    why am i getting emotional from watching a crash course video

  • help me Post author

    Is John Dalton Harry Potter?

  • inam101 Post author

    Avogadro number is my favorite number too. 🙂

  • Gab Gonzalo Post author

    Using this as a reviewer for college entrance tests is very effective

  • 923 harrypotter Post author

    Hey but if you put a bomb in a bottle the weight would rise because of da extra weight of the bottle

  • Terry P Dennison Post author

    Your burning a fuse in a bottle comparison although funny was absolutely ingenious. I never understood what the law of conservation of mass meant to be honest with you and now I fully understand. No matter what form something is in it will have the same mass. You can't change something's Mass

  • MAYANK GAUR Post author


  • Ha ca Post author

    WOW !!!! Thats awesome !!!

  • Denzzy Post author

    whos here for exams

    Just me 🙂

  • TM Ace Post author

    Can anyone tell me why the zero in "60" is significant in the multiplication/division calculation? I thought 60 would have one significant figure (unless the number was written "60." with the decimal point after the zero).

  • Ryan Williams Post author

    In John Dalton's criticism of Proust, why is it that 1.0g of Nitrogen and 0.4374g of Oxygen form to create N2O? Should it not be 2g of Nitrogen so that two Nitrogen atoms are used to create N2O? Am I wrong or was there some kind of scientific explanation that was omitted in the video? If this is not a mistake, how does this reaction specifically happen to act like this? I found this at 6 minutes and 43 seconds into the video.

  • Xx Violet Post author

    What would high school students have done without crash course.

  • Miss Martian Post author

    Well, Lavoisier did become a lawyer , one who specialised in chemistry

  • kichu dk Post author

    dobby's number – 6.022 * 10 ^23

  • Suzana Mantovani Cerqueira Post author

    ❤️Chemistry and Biochemistry.

  • Than Empire Post author

    When I'm more invested with this cliffhanger than most shows

  • RAJEEV PRASAD Post author

    Basically Lavoisier was french version of Tony Stark.

  • rohit saxena Post author

    wanna be a part of crash course…
    Lets start with crash course world and Indian history in Hindi in India…
    An ever-growing market and a hub of knowledge enthusiasts…
    If interested kindly mail me…

  • Bo Do Post author

    Avogadro really did look like a house elf.

  • War Wizard Post author

    You act like Lavoisier was only able to accomplish what he did because he was rich. There are a lot of rich dummies in the world. On the contrary there aren't a lot of poor geniuses.

  • La_Repubblica_ D’Italia Post author

    Lol oxidation was my science project last year in 8th grade

  • Chem Infusion Post author

    nicely explained sir … i am chemistry tutuor and also post lectures on youtube .. … how do you make all this animations please share

  • Jasmyn Jansen Post author

    i just want to say that crash course is so helpful in making things make sense when they don't make sense!

  • theUroshman Post author

    Could you speak a bit faster, please! It is really easy to follow a difficult, and least favorite subject when you speak as fast as possible and gesticulate as much as possible so that you eliminate (or crush as you suggested in the title of your video) any remnant of concentration left in us. But if you disregard all of my complaints, this was an interesting presentation of the most boring subject there is for many of us. Thanks!

  • Julia Raftery Post author

    All three of my children watch your videos nonstop! They love all of them! They are in 2nd, 4th and 6th grade. Thank you for the fantastic content! They enjoy all the subjects. If I had a million dollars I'd give it to you!

  • Armaan Soni Post author

    hank wud be a good news reporter

  • jaksin carter Post author

    Thank you

  • Triloki Maurya Post author

    Advice watch at 0.75x

  • Rahaf Ahmed Post author

    i have my sat chemistry in 2 weeks :') never been this nervous before. trying to watch all these videos. wish me luck (& the mental capability to memorize & understand everything)

  • Ahmad Rahman Post author

    good matter, bad explanation

  • DragonToes Post author

    I've learned more with these videos than any class has ever taught me

  • Unashamed Post author

    2:00 FBI OPEN UP

  • Donn Ah Post author

    Now, I wish I have the same brain(and wealth, lol) as Antoine Lavoisier

  • Crazy K Post author

    Gay Lussac


  • Steven Swanson Post author

    So….. Communism is an enemy of Science!?

  • LEECH76 Post author

    this so unepic not a fun time

  • LEECH76 Post author

    13, that how old my auntie is?!?!? does that mean she is married to a scientist?!?!?

  • jkmakeupmaster143 Post author

    my favorite numbers are
    Avogadro's number

  • Eduardo Gutierrez Post author

    Great men need a lot time to create great things. Idiots just need one second to create stupidity.

  • Eduardo Gutierrez Post author

    Avogadro is too long. Just avo or avos.

  • REAM SYED Post author

    house elf like dobby lol

  • Fantasy Engineering Post author

    HE LIES like he said last episode it can't be exactly 1 gram you fool.

  • Andrayiah McGaughy Post author

    crash course I need your help I am in science right now and I don't get this question According to the article and the video, why do we credit Lavoisier with "discovering" chemistry? help me

  • Breyan Chan Post author

    Wait how do you lose fat and weight though

  • Ron Ruddick Post author

    You know who else was awesome… Maxwell. Magnets are pretty useful.

  • Viky LeChat Post author

    *Antoine Lavoisier

  • IceBlueness Post author

    i just found out he has a vlog channel with his bro.

  • APEX SEFIROT Post author

    "Al" is the Arabic prefix meaning "From" while "chem" comes from "chemmet" meaning black land which was Egypt's name before being enslaved and remodified like the sphinx who's head is abnormally smaller than the preexisting anubis head. Alchemy being vastly misunderstood by the exoteric was thought to be men in basements playing with elements in order to turn lead to gold when in reality this transmutation was a metaphysical and mental transformation for lead has a strong electrical resistance and gold has no electrical resistance and is radiation proof. So your resistance to ideas, emotions, or change in energy is represented by these elements as means of metaphorically explaining your connection to your reality. This was gnosis created from the hermetic principles coming from hermes trismegistus (as known in Greece 2630BC) otherwise known as Thoth (as known in Egypt 2630BC). These principles which are considered natural law are the cogs that run this dimension of materialism and thought. Alchemy is still very much alive and exponentially the exoteric masses will awaken from their dream and start to live lucid and hungry for knowledge and justice.

  • APEX SEFIROT Post author


  • Branton LeNeave Post author

    well my whole school has to watch this today on our chromebooks-_-

  • Novice Music Post author


  • Sam Tetroien Nimley Post author

    0:42 that's exactly what happened

  • Hannah C Post author

    Well you should feel bad… because he was.

  • А.С. Пушкин Post author

    I bet he didn’t say that name in the first time.

  • SAYAL PATIL Post author

    Do these people have their merch?

  • Jose Galliano Post author

    Eu gracias man me ayudaste mucho lastima q nl entendi porque voy a un colegio medio pobre oero bue

  • Jose Galliano Post author

    Hay 4 ventiladores q se estan apunto de caer

  • lucas maglione Post author

    Hola no tengo amigos

  • Jose Galliano Post author

    Mi vida es asi llego a mi casa mi mama me pega mi viejo me escupe mi perro balto ne ladra mi hermano me molesta mi hermana le importo poco y nada y mi otra hermana me pega con un palo ayudame ni uno menos gracias

  • Felipe Gallo Post author

    Sein filip apostol colij

  • Felipe Gallo Post author


  • Jose Galliano Post author

    Acadenia donde estas la banda dek rojo esta aca de visitante o d local ek rojo sera tu papa jugamos con pibes suplentes co. Jogin vas a perder otra vez. Vamos a la cqncha donde te quemaste donde vimos todos como abandonaste con la camiseta t gane hijo bobo ya perdi la cuenta de cuando t cojo y vamos a la.cancha donde te quemaste no te hagas el piola clasico es ganarte vamos y independiente aca esta tu gente los reyes de copas vos blanca y celeste

  • valcan chanel Post author

    Aguante argentina papaaa pile si sabes hablar español y suscribite a mi canal

  • 72 71 62 91 62 Post author

    Im binge watching crash course: computer science which I finished and chemistry then physics

  • Sarkis Karalian Post author

    @5:18 its a fairytale

  • Elie Bouroufail Post author

    Antoine, not Aintoine… <3 LOVE THIS CHANNEL

  • Stephen Samuel Post author

    The guy who invented chemistry should be put to death.

  • Stephen Samuel Post author

    This video was fun, precise and really a great job.
    You're a boss, man.

  • shaddy Shaheen Post author

    jabir ibn hayyan is the ture father of Chemistry
    not the stupid French person

  • JK Pandey Post author

    Sir please explain how did Avogadro found that equal volume of gas have equal molecule

  • Jumanah Idris Post author

    I think we should all take a moment to appreciate the amount of research that went into this. Thank you, Hank.

  • Camo Bear Post author

    Seeing comments from 4 years ago saying they have their exam tomorrow and your there in 2019 like… same :/

  • Ben Incredible Post author


  • Sanfew Post author

    Erm, I'd credit Lavoisier ALONG with Boyle, and Dalton, Berzelius as the fathers of chemistry.

  • Octo Girl Post author

    Very well done. You never stop learning.

  • Adel Haley Post author

    Love your videos! please consider glancing over worldwide contribution to Chemistry from other civilizations. For example the word chemistry itself comes from Arabic. Eurocentrism won't paint the whole picture.

  • Overwatch POTG Post author

    For the curious mind: Avogadro's number or the Avogadro number, sometimes denoted N or N₀, is the number of constituent particles that are contained in one mole, the international unit of amount of substance: by definition, exactly 6.02214076×10²³. It is named after the scientist Amedeo Avogadro.

  • Sargon of Akkad Post author

    I just cant enjoy thus subject. I cant even force myself to enjoy it. What the hell

  • Chad Patron Post author

    Hank: "How did we get here"

    My mind: "Do you have 90 minutes"

  • Stay firm To the path Post author

    Oh but when the prophet Muhammad marry a young girl , it’s petitifile , but when a famous white scientist does it , it’s a common thing of that time huh,

  • HAndri nemesis 898 Post author

    What chemistry is all about???
    My friend: a love story
    Me: knowledge

  • Boglenight Post author

    I like gay loose sack, sounds like a great guy. I feel like I could grab a beer with him.

  • KELLY LEE Post author

    Your animations and video edits make your videos so delightful to watch and helps with engaging with the material. Thank you so much!

  • Anik ratbo Post author

    I love Avogadro!

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