Lots of people have asked me that question since I picked it as my major. I think that people often think it's because of my dad, but it really isn't. I found chemistry on my own. I chose to take it in high school- not because my dad suggested it (he didn't even mention it), but because I thought it would be kinda fun. I've loved it ever since. My dad has never pushed me toward chemistry in any way. I think it makes him happy that this is what I've chosen to study, but he wouldn't have any problem with it if I switched to Jewish studies or something random like that. Anyway, when people ask me that I usually rattle off a peppy response (because I'm not about to rattle off the response at the end of this post, that would freak people out a little, read on, you'll see) like, "It's really fun!!" or "I just like it a lot!!" but you know what, that's not really why I study chemistry....
Every time I look at the sky at night, I think how beautiful is it that things like the stars and moon exist? And how amazing is it that we as small and seemingly insignificant humans can learn about them and try to make some sense out of it all? I remember one night in particular I was standing on my back porch in the middle of the summer at night under a full moon, and that feeling, that awe of the universe just confirmed why I love chemistry. I knew I wanted to study them-the world-atoms, why things are and what they're made of.
I study chemistry because I am human, because I am curious, because I want to know how the world works. I study chemistry because I like knowing that at the most fundamental level, the universe is ordered. There are rules, and things fit into place. I study chemistry because it challenges me. I study chemistry because I enjoy seeing people's reactions when I tell them my major (make of that what you will :)). I study chemistry because I feel like I'm learning how God put together this world (as dramatic as that may seem). I like that. I like being able to look at a colored solution and know why it's colored the way it is. I like being able to touch a cold metal pole and know that it's not really "cold," it's a good conductor of heat. I like being able to look at the stars and know of which elements they're made. And I don't expect to make any sort of grand discovery or anything. I'm content to learn what's out there first, to spend lots of hours in the lab doing nothing but reading Gopal (I swear I'll never figure out how to spell his name), running XRDs, and all the other little things. I don't mind that at all-in fact, I love it. I love being in the lab, I love learning how things go in real research (instead of whatever they try to get you to believe in 113), sometimes I even like cleaning out mortars with acid. Whatever it takes to be in there. As foreign and distasteful as it may be to some of you, dear readers, I love chemistry. Yes, it's hard. But I have to believe that it's worth it.