The Art of Analysis, Reprised
“During human progress, every science is evolved out of its corresponding art,” wrote Herbert Spencer in 1861. So, is analytical chemistry truly as much an art form as a science?
Anne Francois Aubry |
In the career pages of the American Chemical Society, analytical chemistry is described as the “art and science of determining what matter is and how much of it exists”. Of the six disciplines of chemistry, it is the only one to be described with these words, the other five being defined as “the study of ” [a particular type of molecule or material]. “Art” can be perceived as a derogatory term in the context of science but it should not be. Art represents savoirfaire and experience – the clever ways learned over time in the practice of one’s craft. Art precedes science; and it is in attempting to explain experimental results that theories are being developed. Yet, this may be symptomatic of the image of analytical sciences in the scientific community at large.
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