Ancient Indian and Greek philosophers have always wondered about the unknown and unseen form of matter. The idea of divisibility of matter was considered long back in India, around 500 BC. An Indian philosopher Maharishi Kanad, postulated that if we go on dividing matter (padarth), we shall get smaller and smaller particles. Ultimately, a time will come when we shall come across the smallest particles beyond which further division will not be possible. He named these particles Parmanu. Another Indian philosopher, Pakudha Katyayama, elaborated this doctrine and said that these particles normally exist in a combined form which gives us various forms of matter.
The following two laws of chemical combination were established after much experimentations by Lavoisier and Joseph L. Proust.
Have you ever observed a mason building walls, from these walls a room and then a collection of rooms to form a building? What is the building block of the huge building? What about the building block of an ant-hill? It is a small grain of sand. Similarly, the building blocks of all matter are atoms.
A molecule is in general a group of two or more atoms that are chemically bonded together, that is, tightly held together by attractive forces. A molecule can be defined as the smallest particle of an element or a compound that is capable of an independent existence and shows all the properties of that substance. Atoms of the same element or of different elements can join together to form molecules.
The chemical formula of a compound is a symbolic representation of its composition. The chemical formulae of different compounds can be written easily. For this exercise, we need to learn the symbols and combining capacity of the elements.
3.5.1 MOLECULAR MASS
In section 3.2.2 we discussed the concept of atomic mass. This concept can be extended to calculate molecular masses. The molecular mass of a substance is the sum of the atomic masses of all the atoms in a molecule of the substance. It is therefore the relative mass of a molecule expressed in atomic mass units (u).