If matter can’t be created out of nothing, isn’t technically everything made from natural materials? What makes something synthetic?



If matter can’t be created out of nothing, isn’t technically everything made from natural materials? What makes something synthetic?

In: Chemistry

“Synthetic” doesn’t mean created from nothing. It means produced from a synthesis chemical reaction. So while all the atoms in synthetic rubber existed before it was synthetic, it became synthetic after the reaction that created the rubber.

Synthetic just means it wasn’t naturally occurring. Humans had to initiate some kind of chemical reaction with natural materials to convert them to something new.

You’re too zoomed out. Technically, because humans are natural, our skyscrapers are as natural as the structures other animals build. No one uses the word in that manner, however.

Yes, everything is made of natural materials because everything in the universe is natural. Synthetic, in common parlance, usually means something that was created or synthesized by humans using some kind of chemical processing. While everything involved in creating it is “natural,” and the resulting product is “natural,” words have certain common usages and most would not use the word natural to describe a synthetic product.

Your question seems to be more a question of semantics.

You pretty much have the gist of it.

“Natural” is mostly a bullshit marketing term that people who don’t know any better think is meaningful.

To speak of legal definitions something is natural if it is taken from something in nature and not chemically changed. So sodium bicarbonate that is mined from the earth is natural where as if you take sodium carbonate and preform a relatively simple reaction on it to make it into sodium bicarbonate then it would be synthetic.

In the end it’s the same thing though. Often the synthetic stuff can be more pure than natural stuff because it is made in a process that doesn’t produce byproducts like natural processes.

Even if the atoms are taken from nature their structure ie the molecules will exist in a configuration that we do not find in nature.

Naturally tends to be stuff we find on earth and stuff that animal, plants and other for of life produce.
Synthetic tends to be stuff that we make from natural stuff but the structure of them is not found in nature.
Synthetic can also be when we produce stuff identical to what exists in nature in factories from natural resources.

So you could think of it as found in nature vs made in a factory.

There are types of matter that we do not find in nature because they are radioactive and what was produced in the start and exploding supernovas is not found on earth.
So we produce isotopes of atoms that exist and atoms that we do not find in nature in nuclear reactors and particle accelerators. It is still made by protons, neurons, and elections we find in nature or is produced in a nuclear reaction.

Technically you can produce matter with enough energy you can create pairs of particles and antiparticles. But the total amount to matter made that way is a minuscule amount so not exactly relevant for the question.