What's Molecular Science?
Most of all the materials around us (including our bodies themselves) are composed of molecules, which are really microscopic substances with 1/100,000,000 millimeter in scale. Fluentness of water flow originates from random motion with some secreted harmony of vast numbers of molecules (more than 10 billion × 10 billion waters in a single drop). We can enjoy daily life to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste, thanks to the concerted activities of molecules that compose our bodies. Light harvesting of plants is nothing but the collaborating actions of molecules within leafs.
The playing yard of the molecules is expanded from our immediate vicinity to huge scales in time and space. Behavior of molecules controls the global environment of the earth. For instance, ozone molecules in stratosphere absorb hazardous ultraviolet light from the sun. There exists tremendous number of molecules in distant interstellar space, which act as cradles of newly born stars.
The concept of “molecules” as fundamental substances that compose matters was seeded in the ancient Greek civilization, and has been evolved with time as natural science has been growing. In the beginning of twenty century, the emergence of quantum mechanics enabled us to have deeper insight into the nature of chemical bonds, and the foundation was established to unify “chemistry,” for studying variety of behaviors that matters show, and “physics,” to explore the fundamental rules that matters obey. During this trend, “molecular science” was emerging as an interdisciplinary research field that crosses over “chemistry” and “physics,” which had been regarded as independent research areas governed by their own disciplines. Molecular science is a new research movement, which is endeavoring to translate innumerable phenomena that molecules exhibit with underlying general rules. Based on these fundamentals, it is aiming to find out novel properties and activities of molecules so far unexplored, and to create innovative materials with new and valuable functionalities.
Insight at the molecular level is now essential in almost all the research fields in natural science. Molecular science provides the foundation to these various research fields, and mutual interaction among them has been strengthen and stretched into much broader area covering fundamental physics, astronomy, information science, environmental science, bio-science, pharmacy and medical science. The variety of the molecules to be studied has been growing quite rapidly, and the sizes and shapes show a great diversity, ranging from exotic molecules detected in interstellar space to gigantic molecules like proteins composed of more than 10,000 of atoms and supramolecular systems in which molecules line up regularly in a spontaneous manner. Molecular science keeps clarifying the mechanism working in multifarious and bountiful world of molecules, and contributing to develop new technology to solve the energy and environmental problems, which is indispensable to support the sustainable society.