heterogeneity and the appreciation of composition

Pencil, pencil, writing utensil…

To the chemist, it is a highly composite system. The lead in it consists of the element carbon, in its allotropic form known as graphite. The wooden part is a highly complex web of natural polymers, from the family of carbohydrates, such as lignin and cellulose. Furthermore, the chemist intuits what is absent from the mental image of the ordinary user of the pencil, this piece of matter is not an homogeneous solid, it is highly heterogeneous in any of its parts; and furthermore, both the lead and the wood are made predominantly of vacuum. A material solid is actually, to the mental eye of the chemist, a network of atoms thrown across the vacuum, as so many ropes scaling the emptiness of a gorge in the mountains.

chemical thought examines material samples for their component parts as atomic assemblies. Thus, it goes from bulk reality to a core reality and, in so doing, translates sensory impressions into alphanumerical symbols … chemical analysis is a process of dematerialization, of transforming matter into written language.


-Pierre Laszlo, “Foundations of Chemical Aesthetics”

HYLE–International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Vol. 9, No.1 (2003), pp. 11-32



picture obtained from http://www.crystalrockstar.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/graphite-carbon-diamond-crystal-manifestation-intention-crystalrockstar.jpg


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