Chemical Autism

RumChicken
RumChicken

I'm at my wits end right now and desperately need advice. Is there more to learning chemistry than brute force and memorization? I've been struggling through this intro Chemistry course at Uni for months but I feel like I've wasted so much effort learning this the wrong way. I'm just too much of an autist to retain this sort of material in the way that I've been learning it. Up until this point in my life, disciplines like Math and Physics have always been easiest for me to study because I can break them down coherently and understand them from the inside out, so I'll generally know right away if I'm doing something obviously stupid while solving a problem. So much of how I master information is dependent on intuition and rational thinking, but I've had to resort to countless hours of brute memorization. It's honestly just intro chemistry, covering little more than AP-level information.
Is there any framework at all that I can use to study this subject more coherently?

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Nojokur
Nojokur

Don't be a chemistry major, they thrive on this shit
physical chemistry has a framework, like the kinetics of reactions are pretty easy to deal with, the ideal gas law is a single equation. trends across the periodic table you can learn to reason out. (Although chemistry has this time-honored tradition of presenting mathematical models in really obtuse ways...) but shit like solubility you just have to memorize.

Need_TLC
Need_TLC

All intelligence is brute-forced, it becomes 'wisdom/knowledge' only upon some third-party consensus.

Spamalot
Spamalot

math, physics
employ concepts, need to understand or else you get destroyed as you try to continue.
chemistry
get destroyed if you try to understand because you should've spent that time memorizing.

Garbage Can Lid
Garbage Can Lid

Dumb

hairygrape
hairygrape

Switch to ChemPhys.

Firespawn
Firespawn

bump of sympathy

5mileys
5mileys

Don't be a chemistry major, they thrive on this shit
chemistry
get destroyed if you try to understand because you should've spent that time memorizing.
When you start taking real chemistry, there's a clear conceptual development for basically everything. This is the equivalent of judging mathematics on the basis of calc 1 ("what do you mean I have to memorize all these derivatives?")

Sharpcharm
Sharpcharm

I fucking doubt it

StonedTime
StonedTime

I have to remember derivatives for calc 1, so all mathematics is autistic memorization
The Veeky Forums culture encourages people to realize that real math is argument and proof, not computation, but you're so eager to say all chemistry works the way your piddly intro class does without any real knowledge of what chemistry -is-
Genchem doesn't even involve that much memorization anyway. What even is there besides solubility rules that you have to learn by rote?

New_Cliche
New_Cliche

you're full of shit. the people who succeed in chem courses have loads of stuff memorized. pKas come to mind. I feel like anyone who thinks chem is straightforward and logical has never taken a serious physics class

5mileys
5mileys

Try doing nootropics

nootropicsdepot.com/
slatestarcodex.com/2016/03/01/2016-nootropics-survey-results/

Techpill
Techpill

I feel you. Currently taking analytical Chemistry, learning all these colours really fucks your brain.

SomethingNew
SomethingNew

I literally know no one who memorized all the pKa's. You learn how trends in atom structures lead to structural differences and as a result produce different reactions. All the dumbasses that try to get through Chemistry just using memorization get wrecked worse and worse as they have to take harder classes. The major tool for a chemistry class is being able to visualize how the system works despite never being able to see it.

Gen chem feels hard as fuck because it's babies first physical chemistry. Physical chemistry relies on statistical thermodynamics and quantum mechanics, both subjects beyond the scope of intro classes. Therefore you get a lot of information that seems to make little sense, you have to develop a framework that works for you. After you rationalize it you take another chemistry course and have to alter the way you view it because they teach you how some aspect of the framework was a lie because trying to intuit how statistical thermodynamics and quantum mechanics mesh is not simple.

tl;dr Chemistry is a series of lies that get slightly closer to the truth each iteration. Figure out which lies make sense to you, but don't grip them too tightly as they are subject to change.

Harmless_Venom
Harmless_Venom

memorizing pKas

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BinaryMan
BinaryMan

We actually had to d that for GenC. There was one part in the test where it would just give you a formular and xou had to write the pKs down. Obviously only common ones like HF, H2CO3, HAc, H2O, NH3, stuff like that. It gave only 5/100 points but 5 points are 5 points.

Methshot
Methshot

Is there more to learning chemistry than brute force and memorization?

all sciences, all knowledge require some memorization

but if you're implying that chemistry is in fact memorization then you're just being an idiot

of course you're gonna have to memorize basic concepts in an INTRO CHEMISTRY COURSE you dumb cunt

once you get to physical chemistry and have thermodynamics or quantum mechanics you'll realize you were wrong

not only that when you get to organic chem 2, that is if you even pass organic 1, you will have to memorize reagents, but then you'll have to figure out mechanisms based on molecular orbital theory

my advice is stop complaining and learn the stuff

you're gonna wish you had to memorize once you get to group theory and building MO diagrams for complexes with pi donator/acceptors

Garbage Can Lid
Garbage Can Lid

That's silly. I would just give you a list and ask you to rank them
Even electron pushing is intuitive and rational. You realize later that it and the entire resonance form concept are just a stand in for the qualitative behavior or waves (Fleming's MOs book does this well) but you certainly don't need to in order to rationalize broad classes of reactivity

TurtleCat
TurtleCat

I found general chemistry to be easy as fuck. Just fucking practice.

FastChef
FastChef

Gen chem is boring in my experience there is not logical flow of information you go from on topic to a completely unrelated topic. The course is not linear at all. Although most gen chem is basic algebra so if you are good with math it should be a breeze just menorize the formulas. Organic chemistry is a lot more enjoyable imo. I loved organic. It just makes sense to me and it is much more linear. In all honesty if you understand the first 3 chapters of organic you should be able to ace both orgo 1 and 2.

StrangeWizard
StrangeWizard

memorized all the pkas
strawman. I'm not saying pi to 100 digits, I'm saying relative magnitudes. so given a solvent you know roughly what's going to happen. this is a very useful skill in determining how an organic reaction will go.
also, biochemistry is extremely demanding of memory
if you thought this way about organic your class probably wasn't very difficult, IME

Nojokur
Nojokur

another relevant point: chemistry majors are typically terrible at physics

MPmaster
MPmaster

Gen chem is kind of a broad, shallow survey of some of the main ideas and elementary results from different areas of chemistry. It seems like it's more for nonmajors who need a practical understanding of things like equilibrium, acids, gasses, and descriptive periodic trends without much depth or rigor, and to my way of thinking it kind of shortchanges chemistry students and those who'd like to know what chemistry is all about.

strawman
Figuring out the relative magnitudes of pka values based on structural features is -not- "memorizing pkas"

takes2long
takes2long

yeah but aometimes relative magnitude isn't apparent from structure. if you're comparing a solvent and a reagent that are structurally dissimilar, your qualitative methods are fucked. My upper division organic classes were filled with that stuff.

TurtleCat
TurtleCat

pi donator/acceptors
I laughed

Supergrass
Supergrass

There is, indeed, a lot of memorization in the earlier classes as anons in this thread and you, obviously, can see.

That being said, there are some concepts that you can learn that aid in the processes required for memorization. Certainly, you could just remember that some multivalent transition metals form +2 ions fairly often OR you could learn some basic inorganic chemistry relating the relative electron probability densities of the atomic orbitals to which would be most sensitive to increased effective nuclear charge to rationalize WHY transition metals lose n+1 s orbital electrons and some n d orbital electrons to result in the observed oxidation states.

My explanation has two-fold purpose: firstly, I was flexing some chemical vocabulary knowledge that presents the idea that, yes, some drone memorization is often required (even though this is all very simple first week inorganic chemistry topics) but, secondly, that there are deeper lessons that can be granted through the memorization.

The jargon is a stepping-stone for new chemistry students to set a starting point wherein further learning can be built on this foundation.

In another vein, this method of teaching chemistry hearkens back to how the developments/discoveries in the field were made. Before quantum mechanics, there were the simpler notions of bonding models that earlier scientists, and new chemistry students alike, use to work towards the final, most accurate models chemists can now utilize.

I hope this inspires you as I am very passionate about my field of study.

Spazyfool
Spazyfool

Yeah I've seen the "group theory" you need for chemistry and it's fucking laughable.

LuckyDusty
LuckyDusty

It's the same kind you need for physics, so...
Of course your main courses for a BS won't involve a lengthy digression into abstract mathematics and proofs. But if you plan to go to graduate school for pchem, it'll be recommended to you.

New_Cliche
New_Cliche

It's the same kind you need for physics
Yeah that is really not saying much.

Need_TLC
Need_TLC

pi donor/acceptors
that the best you got, b?

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hairygrape
hairygrape

DFT

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Evil_kitten
Evil_kitten

I don't get this. The weirdest and most innacurate misconception people have about organic chemistry is that it is all memorisation. It isn't: you're taught MO theory and a mechanistic model and then have to derive mechanisms and synthesis pathways from first principles.

As for inorganic and physical, they rely so heavily on maths that I can't see how they would just be memorisation.

askme
askme

You don't have to memorize shit in Calc I

Evilember
Evilember

Uh excuse me. I had to memorize how to draw that little squiggle they said was the "integral". More like "integral to my failure" ;(

kizzmybutt
kizzmybutt

get destroyed if you try to understand because you should've spent that time memorizing.
Maybe for a brainlet. Understanding allows for generalization and expansion

Group theory isn't required for writing up a simple MO diagram for something like catalytic mechanisms. GT will only make the MOs more definite and integrate all components.

This. Stereoelectronic effects have taken me far.

I have legit autism and graduated with a B.Sc. in synthetic and catalytic chemistry

RavySnake
RavySnake

DFT has its applications. I've used it to computationally model donor-acceptor semi-conductive polymers

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