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I was really disappointed to see the chemistry site on area51 having just 32 followers compared to roughly 700 for physics.stackexchange and 3.5K+ on math.stackexchange. Isn't chemistry also "up there" among the top?

So I thought I'd raise this as an awareness question to drive the chemistry site into beta. Hoping it does not get down voted.

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    $\begingroup$ Can a moderator comment on whether this should be voted for closing or moved to meta? $\endgroup$ – Robin Maben Nov 28 '10 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ This is very clearly not a question about physics. $\endgroup$ – j.c. Nov 28 '10 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ @conqenator: There are no moderators yet. In any case, this is definitely more of a meta question. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Nov 28 '10 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ Definitely meta $\endgroup$ – Sklivvz Nov 28 '10 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ "Chemistry is physics without thought, math is physics without purpose." $\endgroup$ – user68 Nov 30 '10 at 14:18
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In my opinion, it is close-minded to say:

... is just a subset of Medicine is just a subset of Biology is just a subset of Chemistry is just a subset of Physics is just applied Mathematics.

Yes, sure, all chemical reactions ultimately break down to quantum mechanics and (quantum) thermodynamics. But is this a helpful view? I strongly disagree. When Chemists try to figure something out, I doubt that they start from the full Schrödinger equation for N electrons and M nuclei.

Rather, Chemistry is on another plane w.r.t complexity, and hence an entire new set of phenomena emerge. If you're interested in a better discussion of this, read the very famous essay "More is different" by P.A.W. Anderson. You should have no problem finding it using Google Scholar.

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    $\begingroup$ in a nutshell: xkcd.com/435 ;-) $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 30 '10 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ Well, that one's the hierarchical view that isn't really helpful. $\endgroup$ – Lagerbaer Nov 30 '10 at 7:27
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I believe that chemistry is merely less glamourous than physics and biology, which are more open fields - physics "claiming" to aim to explain reality and biology having the "claim" to try to explain life and evolution.

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Chemist here:

I feel that chemistry suffers in this regard for being the 'central science', bridging the disciplines of physics and biology. I'm a (novice) computational chemist looking at enzymatic catalysis and potential inorganic and heterogeneous cognates, so I'm in this weird borderland between quantum physics, chemistry, biology, condensed matter and computer science. Jack of all trades, master of none. I've many times started writing a physics-oriented question here only to give up on it, knowing that the chemical context will probably see it shot down.

Chemistry is like an octopus, with a tentacle in every faculty. A lot of chemists work on the tentacles, where they can easily get thrown into a 'redirect loop' of 'that's really a physics question' ↔ 'that's really a chemistry question' and the like.

This may be why we have journals like Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys....

As it stands, I'm a bit concerned that when chem.se reaches beta, it will stagnate as users jump to more specific sites for answers to their specific queries. Chemistry is a vast topic.

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  • $\begingroup$ What sorts of questions did you consider asking? I'm bringing it up because when we decide whether something is on- or off-topic, it's not because of the context, it's because of the actual subject, and there are plenty of topics that are relevant to chemistry but are still essentially physics and would be fine here. I'm thinking of things like fundamental spectroscopy, thermodynamics (including free energy, reaction enthalpies, phase changes), electron configurations in atomic or molecular orbitals, and the like. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jul 19 '11 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ @ David Zaslavsky - Most recently, a question on basis set composition and one on the origins of hyperpolarisability. $\endgroup$ – Richard Terrett Jul 21 '11 at 8:04

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