The Epic Saga

Quantitative analysis and the essence of doing good science

For decades, the majority of chemists have taken undergraduate courses oft-entitled “Analytical Chemistry”. Historically, such courses covered topics that many chemists label as “classical”: error analysis, gravimetry, titration, acid/base buffers, redox reactions and some instrumentation. The philosophy? Chemists needed to separate, identify and quantify chemical substances.

Having taught Analytical Chemistry since the late 80s, it became clear to me that it was not subject matter pertinent only to skilled chemists. And during the past few years, students from biology, chemical engineering, geology, environmental science and even physics started to take the course. The motivation behind this increased interest is the realization that, in addition to using many of the same instruments, the same fundamental skills for making reliable and accurate measurements are required, whether you are measuring dopamine in rat brain cells, CO2 in the atmosphere, hydrocarbon fractionation in petroleum – or the soluble salts in martian soil…