Chapter 2

Science, Systems, Matter, and Energy

Chapter Overview Questions
 What is science, and what do scientists do?  What are major components and behaviors

of complex systems?  What are the basic forms of matter, and what makes matter useful as a resource?  What types of changes can matter undergo and what scientific law governs matter?

Chapter Overview Questions (cont’d)
 What are the major forms of energy, and

what makes energy useful as a resource?  What are two scientific laws governing changes of energy from one form to another?  How are the scientific laws governing changes of matter and energy from one form to another related to resource use, environmental degradation and sustainability?

Updates Online
The latest references for topics covered in this section can be found at the book companion website. Log in to the book’s e-resources page at www.thomsonedu.com to access InfoTrac articles.

    

InfoTrac: Underwater Microscope Finds Biological Treasures in Subtropical Ocean. Ascribe Higher Education News Service, June 26, 2006. InfoTrac: In Bacterial Diversity, Amazon Is a 'Desert'; Desert Is an 'Amazon'. Ascribe Higher Education News Service, Jan 9, 2006. InfoTrac: Making MGP wastes beneficial. Bob Paulson. Pollution Engineering, June 2006 v38 i6 p20(5). NASA: Nitrogen Cycle Environmental Literacy Council: Phosphorous Cycle National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service: Nutrient Cycles

Video: The Throw Away Society
 This video clip is available in CNN Today

Videos for Environmental Science, 2004, Volume VII. Instructors, contact your local sales representative to order this volume, while supplies last.

Core Case Study: Environmental Lesson from Easter Island
 Thriving society

15,000 people by 1400.

 Used resources faster

than could be renewed

By 1600 only a few trees remained. By 1722 only several hundred people left.

 Civilization collapsed

Figure 2-1

THE NATURE OF SCIENCE
 What do scientists do?
  

Collect data. Form hypotheses. Develop theories, models and laws about how nature works.

Figure 2-2

Ask a question

Do experiments and collect data

Interpret data

Formulate hypothesis to explain data

Well-tested and accepted patterns in data become scientific laws

Do more experiments to test hypothesis

Revise hypothesis if necessary

Well-tested and accepted hypotheses become scientific theories

Fig. 2-2, p. 29

Ask a question

Do experiments and collect data

Interpret data

Formulate hypothesis to explain data

Well-tested and accepted patterns In data become scientific laws

Do more experiments to test hypothesis

Revise hypothesis if necessary

Well-tested and accepted hypotheses become scientific theories

Stepped Art
Fig. 2-3, p. 30

Scientific Theories and Laws: The Most Important Results of Science
 Scientific Theory

Widely tested and accepted hypothesis. What we find happening over and over again in nature.
Figure 2-3

 Scientific Law

Research results

Scientific paper

Peer review by experts in field

Paper rejected

Paper accepted

Paper published in scientific journal

Research evaluated by scientific community

Fig. 2-3, p. 30

Testing Hypotheses
 Scientists test hypotheses using controlled

experiments and constructing mathematical models.
 

Variables or factors influence natural processes Single-variable experiments involve a control and an experimental group. Most environmental phenomena are multivariable and are hard to control in an experiment.
• Models are used to analyze interactions of variables.

Scientific Reasoning and Creativity
 Inductive reasoning

Involves using specific observations and measurements to arrive at a general conclusion or hypothesis. Bottom-up reasoning going from specific to general. Uses logic to arrive at a specific conclusion. Top-down approach that goes from general to specific.

 Deductive reasoning
 

Frontier Science, Sound Science, and Junk Science
 Frontier science has not been widely tested

(starting point of peer-review).  Sound science consists of data, theories and laws that are widely accepted by experts.  Junk science is presented as sound science without going through the rigors of peerreview.

Limitations of Environmental Science
 Inadequate data and scientific understanding

can limit and make some results controversial.

Scientific testing is based on disproving rather than proving a hypothesis.
• Based on statistical probabilities.

MODELS AND BEHAVIOR OF SYSTEMS
 Usefulness of models

 

Complex systems are predicted by developing a model of its inputs, throughputs (flows), and outputs of matter, energy and information. Models are simplifications of “real-life”. Models can be used to predict if-then scenarios.

Feedback Loops: How Systems Respond to Change
 Outputs of matter, energy, or information fed

back into a system can cause the system to do more or less of what it was doing.

Positive feedback loop causes a system to change further in the same direction (e.g. erosion) Negative (corrective) feedback loop causes a system to change in the opposite direction (e.g. seeking shade from sun to reduce stress).

Feedback Loops:
 Negative feedback can take so long that a

system reaches a threshold and changes.

Prolonged delays may prevent a negative feedback loop from occurring.

 Processes and feedbacks in a system can

(synergistically) interact to amplify the results.

E.g. smoking exacerbates the effect of asbestos exposure on lung cancer.

TYPES AND STRUCTURE OF MATTER
 Elements and Compounds

Matter exists in chemical forms as elements and compounds.
• Elements (represented on the periodic table) are the distinctive building blocks of matter. • Compounds: two or more different elements held together in fixed proportions by chemical bonds.

Atoms

Figure 2-4

Ions
 An ion is an atom

or group of atoms with one or more net positive or negative electrical charges.  The number of positive or negative charges on an ion is shown as a superscript after the symbol for an atom or group of atoms
 

Hydrogen ions (H+), Hydroxide ions (OH-) Sodium ions (Na+), Chloride ions (Cl-)

 The pH (potential of Hydrogen) is the

concentration of hydrogen ions in one liter of solution.

Figure 2-5

Compounds and Chemical Formulas
 Chemical formulas are shorthand ways to

show the atoms and ions in a chemical compound.

Combining Hydrogen ions (H+) and Hydroxide ions (OH-) makes the compound H2O (dihydrogen oxide, a.k.a. water). Combining Sodium ions (Na+) and Chloride ions (Cl-) makes the compound NaCl (sodium chloride a.k.a. salt).

Organic Compounds: Carbon Rules
 Organic compounds contain carbon atoms

combined with one another and with various other atoms such as H+, N+, or Cl-.  Contain at least two carbon atoms combined with each other and with atoms.
 

Methane (CH4) is the only exception. All other compounds are inorganic.

Organic Compounds: Carbon Rules
 Hydrocarbons: compounds of carbon and

hydrogen atoms (e.g. methane (CH4)).
 Chlorinated hydrocarbons: compounds of

carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine atoms (e.g. DDT (C14H9Cl5)).
 Simple carbohydrates: certain types of

compounds of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen (e.g. glucose (C6H12O6)).

Cells: The Fundamental Units of Life
 Cells are the basic

structural and functional units of all forms of life.

Prokaryotic cells (bacteria) lack a distinct nucleus. Eukaryotic cells (plants and animals) have a distinct nucleus.
Figure 2-6

(a) Prokaryotic Cell DNA (information storage, no nucleus)

Protein construction and energy conversion occur without specialized internal structures

Cell membrane (transport of raw materials and finished products)
Fig. 2-6a, p. 37

(b) Eukaryotic Cell Nucleus (information storage) Energy conversion

Protein construction

Packaging

Cell membrane (transport of raw materials and finished products)
Fig. 2-6b, p. 37

Macromolecules, DNA, Genes and Chromosomes
 Large, complex organic

molecules (macromolecules) make up the basic molecular units found in living organisms.
   

Complex carbohydrates Proteins Nucleic acids Lipids
Figure 2-7

A human body contains trillions of cells, each with an identical set of genes. There is a nucleus inside each human cell (except red blood cells). Each cell nucleus has an identical set of chromosomes, which are found in pairs. A specific pair of chromosomes contains one chromosome from each parent. Each chromosome contains a long DNA molecule in the form of a coiled double helix. Genes are segments of DNA on chromosomes that contain instructions to make proteins—the building blocks of life. The genes in each cell are coded by sequences of nucleotides in their DNA molecules.

Fig. 2-7, p. 38

A human body contains trillions of cells, each with an identical set of genes.

There is a nucleus inside each human cell (except red blood cells). Each cell nucleus has an identical set of chromosomes, which are found in pairs.

A specific pair of chromosomes contains one chromosome from each parent.

Each chromosome contains a long DNA molecule in the form of a coiled double helix. Genes are segments of DNA on chromosomes that contain instructions to make proteins—the building blocks of life. The genes in each cell are coded by sequences of nucleotides in their DNA molecules.

Stepped Art
Fig. 2-7, p. 38

States of Matter
 The atoms, ions, and molecules that make

up matter are found in three physical states:

solid, liquid, gaseous.

 A fourth state, plasma, is a high energy

mixture of positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons.
 

The sun and stars consist mostly of plasma. Scientists have made artificial plasma (used in TV screens, gas discharge lasers, florescent light).

Matter Quality
 Matter can be classified

as having high or low quality depending on how useful it is to us as a resource.

High quality matter is concentrated and easily extracted. low quality matter is more widely dispersed and more difficult to extract.
Figure 2-8

High Quality

Low Quality

Solid

Gas

Salt

Solution of salt in water

Coal

Coal-fired power plant emissions

Gasoline

Automobile emissions

Aluminum can

Aluminum ore

Fig. 2-8, p. 39

CHANGES IN MATTER
 Matter can change from

one physical form to another or change its chemical composition.
When a physical or chemical change occurs, no atoms are created or destroyed.
• Law of conservation of matter.

Physical change maintains original chemical composition. Chemical change involves a chemical reaction which changes the arrangement of the elements or compounds involved.
• Chemical equations are used to represent the reaction.

Chemical Change

Energy is given off during the reaction as a product.

Reactant(s)
carbon + + oxygen O2

Product(s)
carbon dioxide + +

energy energy

C

CO2

+

+

energy

black solid

colorless gas

colorless gas

p. 39

Types of Pollutants
 Factors that determine the severity of a

pollutant’s effects: chemical nature, concentration, and persistence.  Pollutants are classified based on their persistence:
   

Degradable pollutants Biodegradable pollutants Slowly degradable pollutants Nondegradable pollutants

Nuclear Changes: Radioactive Decay
 Natural radioactive decay: unstable isotopes

spontaneously emit fast moving chunks of matter (alpha or beta particles), high-energy radiation (gamma rays), or both at a fixed rate.

Radiation is commonly used in energy production and medical applications. The rate of decay is expressed as a half-life (the time needed for one-half of the nuclei to decay to form a different isotope).

Nuclear Changes: Fission
 Nuclear fission:

nuclei of certain isotopes with large mass numbers are split apart into lighter nuclei when struck by neutrons.

Figure 2-9

Uranium-235 Uranium-235

Uranium-235 Fission Fragment n Neutron Energy n n Energy n Uranium-235 Energy Energy Uranium-235 n n Uranium-235

Uranium-235 Fission Fragment

Uranium-235 Uranium-235 Uranium-235
Fig. 2-9, p. 41

Uranium-235 Uranium-235

Uranium-235

Energy Fission fragment n Neutron n Uranium-235

Energy n Fission fragment

n

n Energy n Uranium-235 Energy Uranium-235

Uranium-235

Uranium-235

Uranium-235 Uranium-235

Stepped Art Fig. 2-6, p. 28

Nuclear Changes: Fusion

 Nuclear fusion: two isotopes of light elements

are forced together at extremely high temperatures until they fuse to form a heavier nucleus.
Figure 2-10

Fuel

Reaction Conditions Neutron

Products

Proton

Energy Hydrogen-2 (deuterium nucleus) + 100 million °C Helium-4 nucleus + Hydrogen-3 (tritium nucleus)

+

+

Neutron
Fig. 2-10, p. 42

ENERGY
 Energy is the ability to do work and transfer

heat.

Kinetic energy – energy in motion
• heat, electromagnetic radiation

Potential energy – stored for possible use
• batteries, glucose molecules

Electromagnetic Spectrum

 Many different forms of electromagnetic

radiation exist, each having a different wavelength and energy content.
Figure 2-11

Sun

Ionizing radiation Cosmic Gamma X rays rays Rays
Far ultraviolet waves

Near Near ultra- Visible infrared violet Waves waves waves

Nonionizing radiation
Far infrared waves Microwaves TV waves Radio Waves

High energy, short Wavelength

Wavelength in meters (not to scale)

Low energy, long Wavelength

Fig. 2-11, p. 43

Electromagnetic Spectrum
 Organisms vary

in their ability to sense different parts of the spectrum.

Figure 2-12

Energy emitted from sun (kcal/cm2/min)

Visible Ultraviolet Infrared

Wavelength (micrometers)

Fig. 2-12, p. 43

Source of Energy
Electricity Very high temperature heat (greater than 2,500°C) Nuclear fission (uranium) Nuclear fusion (deuterium) Concentrated sunlight High-velocity wind High-temperature heat (1,000–2,500°C) Hydrogen gas Natural gas Gasoline Coal Food

Relative Energy Tasks Energy Quality (usefulness)

Very high-temperature heat (greater than 2,500°C) for industrial processes and producing electricity to run electrical devices (lights, motors)

Mechanical motion to move vehicles and other things) High-temperature heat (1,000–2,500°C) for industrial processes and producing electricity Moderate-temperature heat (100–1,000°C) for industrial processes, cooking, producing steam, electricity, and hot water

Normal sunlight Moderate-velocity wind High-velocity water flow Concentrated geothermal energy Moderate-temperature heat (100–1,000°C) Wood and crop wastes

Dispersed geothermal energy Low-temperature heat (100°C or lower)

Low-temperature heat (100°C or less) for space heating

Fig. 2-13, p. 44

ENERGY LAWS: TWO RULES WE CANNOT BREAK
 The first law of thermodynamics: we cannot

create or destroy energy.

We can change energy from one form to another.

 The second law of thermodynamics: energy

quality always decreases.

When energy changes from one form to another, it is always degraded to a more dispersed form. Energy efficiency is a measure of how much useful work is accomplished before it changes to its next form.

Solar energy
Waste Heat

Chemical energy (photosynthesis)

Chemical energy (food)

Mechanical energy (moving, thinking, living) Waste Heat Waste Heat

Waste Heat

Fig. 2-14, p. 45

SUSTAINABILITY AND MATTER AND ENERGY LAWS
 Unsustainable High-Throughput Economies:

Working in Straight Lines

Converts resources to goods in a manner that promotes waste and pollution.

Figure 2-15

System Throughputs

Inputs (from environment) High-quality energy Matter Unsustainable high-waste economy

Outputs (into environment) Low-quality energy (heat) Waste and pollution

Fig. 2-15, p. 46

Sustainable Low-Throughput Economies: Learning from Nature
 Matter-Recycling-and-Reuse Economies:

Working in Circles

Mimics nature by recycling and reusing, thus reducing pollutants and waste. It is not sustainable for growing populations.

Inputs (from environment) Energy conservation

System Throughputs

Outputs (into environment)

Energy

Matter

Waste and pollution

Sustainable low-waste economy
Pollution control

Low-quality Energy (heat) Waste and pollution

Matter Feedback Energy Feedback

Recycle and reuse

Fig. 2-16, p. 47

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