Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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In this report I am going to try and tell the readers of this report what exactly a polymer is and how we use them in everyday life. So in order to start out I must give you a history of polymers, and the scientist who created them.

First off what exactly is a polymer? The answer to this question is fairly easy to put into words. A polymer is a large molecule of high molecular mass, formed by the joining together, or polymerization, of a large number of molecules of low molecular mass. The individual molecules forming the polymer are called monomers. That brings up another question, what is a monomer? A monomer is a molecule with a low molecular weight. (chem 8th pgs. G-9, G-11) In the year 1827 a scientist by the name of Jons Jakob Berzelius coined the word polymer which he derived from the greek words polys meaning many, and meros meaning parts.

Humans have taken advantage of polymers for centuries in the form of oils, tars, resins, and gums. It was not until the industrial revolution that the modern polymer industry started to develop. Late in the 1830's Charles Goodyear produced a useful form of natural rubber through a process called vulcanization. Other than that and the commercialization of Celluloid (a hard plastic formed from nitrocellulose) progress in polymer was slow up until the 1930's when materials such as vinyl, neoprene, polystyrene, and nylon were developed. These materials caused an explosion in polymer research, which is still going on today. Polymers such as cotton, wool, rubber, Teflon?, and all plastics are used in nearly every industry. Natural and synthetic polymers can be produced with a wide range of stiffness, strength, heat resistance, density, and price. (1) As research continues in the science and applications...