In Chapter 1 of the book of Fundamentals of Chemistry/Introductory Chemistry, Combustion and the Scientific Method is discussed by explaining it as the way chemists understand combustion through observation and experimentation. The Scientific Method is used to understand all different kinds of information. It is not just one simple step to perform the Scientific Method. The Scientific Method is composed of several different steps. One example of information that the Scientific Method helps one understand is combustion. Through the Scientific Method, the combustion theory was formed and is still significant today.
The different steps in the Scientific Method can be replayed as many times as needed to determine a Theory as the ending result.
The general steps in a Scientific Method start with an observation. An observation can include just observing something or measuring something in nature. An experiment is done for an observation. This leads to the next step, which is making a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an interpretation of the observation or an educated guess. This interpretation from an experiment and observation helps one to make a law. To form a law, which is the next step, many experiments need to be performed. A Law is something that summarizes past experiments done. After many more experimentations are done to distinguish if a hypothesis is correct, a Theory can finally be made.
A Theory is that last step in the Scientific Theory, structurally. A Theory is a model that explains what observations from experiments and laws determine. Though these are the formal steps in a Scientific Method, if one of the steps does not match another step, one may have to go back and change them. For example, if one makes an observation, then makes a hypothesis that can be overwritten with new information from another experiment, one will need to correct their first hypothesis and go through the steps again. The same can take place if a Theory or Law can be overwritten with an experimentation. Through the Scientific Method, Antoine Lavoisier determined the new theory of combustion. To determine this new theory, many experiments were completed.
First, during the eighteenth century, chemists formed a theory that said that combustion was a substance that was involved with phlogiston. Phlogiston is involved in any observation when something was burned in combustion. It made things flammable. When different things were burned in a closed container, they would not burn long because of the phlogiston that was present. When different things burned in an open space, they would burn for as long as it took to do away with the phlogiston.
This theory the chemists made also said that metals could be burned and unburned. With phlogiston and clax, a metal could be unburned. Clax is a metal that does not have any phlogiston left in it. This theory also stated that as things were burned the metals lost weight. Then, in the mid-eighteenth century, Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau weighed metals before they were burned and after as well. The metals gained weight everytime he observed, but this theory does not match the phlogiston theory.
Therefore, the phlogiston theory needed to be looked over and changed. In result of this, Lavoisier did many experiments. He found out through it that through combustion air is absorbed to make the matter gain weight. Through these experiments, he concluded that air was not just a common substance. He excluded phlogiston and said that combustion involved air that was present. He called this air oxygene, at first. He then went on to override the phlogiston theory, saying that oxygen played the central role (). In the nineteenth century, scientists took the basic concepts of combustion and looked deeper into it.
Fire was understood by many as something that involved heat and mass transfer. Lavoisier’s theory, which can be shown in chemical reactions is still the base of this information today. It is known that through this theory of combustion that oxygen and a combustive substance, hydrocarbon, for example, is what the foundation of all fires is. The knowledge of fires has increased since the later half of the nineteenth century resulting in what we know today. Now we can propagate flames when something is burning in a fire. It helps scientists know how fire really works and is the base of all the new knowledge they had found. Chemists also know what oxygen does in combustion now and that it can become a compound with nearly every other element, making different kinds of compounds. Without this previous knowledge, they would not have learned all they did. The education on this subject has increased immensely (Delacroix, Drysdale, Guillaume, and Marlair).
Throughout all of these experimentations and the results that turned into theories, many things have become important. Without this scientific method to figure out everything the chemists did about combustion, we would not be able to do what we do today. Lots of work was put into it and it has been worth it. Combustion is used in everyday life, now. The combustion of fuels has helped all people light up their homes and keep them warm for many years. This also helps some cook food in their homes, as well. Combustion is a chemical reaction that is increasingly exothermic, which means it releases energy or heat. That is how it heats homes and fuel cars, for another example.
People use this in everyday life without even noticing or thinking about it. Another example is with a burning candle. People are always burning candles in their houses for a good smell or for light. When one is ready to put the candle out, all they have to do is put a lid or something over the candle to decrease the oxygen. Once the oxygen is not present anymore, the candle is no longer burning. That is combustion (Shmoop). There are some disadvantages to combustion that is taking place. It increases global warming, for example. With all the different gases that are in the air because of combustion now, they do not help the environment but pollute it. It raises the temperature here on earth creating global warming.
Compounds like carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, and many others made through combustion result in drawbacks to the combustion theory. Combustion can result in global warming, smog, acid rain, localized fog, or potential carcinogens. All of which are a disadvantage to society. In Canada, they are trying to reduce these disadvantages and the only way for them to do that is by decreasing the amount of things being combusted by the combustion equipment (). Through the scientific method, many things have been discovered. The theory of combustion is just one example.
First, phlogiston was observed, but Antoine Lavoisier said combustion involved air called oxygen. He said oxygen played a big role in this theory and during combustion weight was gained because the air was now involved. He overwrote the phlogiston theory with the combustion theory. Through this theory, one has learned so much about compounds and elements, especially oxygen. But one can see that combustion also has its advantages and disadvantages. People use combustion in everyday life when they drive to work or school, or even when they cook supper for their families.
Combustion is used in everyday life by all people without them even realizing it. But combustion and the compounds it produces bring corruption into the world. They create global warming by increasing the temperature of the atmosphere. The only way to stop that is to decrease the use of combustion in the environment. People would have to stop doing everyday things, which would change life as we know it.