Disciplines emerge either by the fission or the fusion of older disciplines. The reason for such emergence may be profound or else trivial. Fission is the more common: thus, physical chemistry was created and split resolutely from organic chemistry in the 1880s because of the founders' passion to establish generalizations about reaction equilibria and kinetics as distinct from collecting facts about particular reactions. That was a profound event. Chemical physics split from physical chemistry in the 1930s mainly because of many people's exasperation with a physical chemist who was also a particularly troublesome journal editor; practitioners still have great difficulty in pinpointing the difference between physical chemistry and chemical physics. That was a trivial event. Colloid scientists have made repeated attempts to split away from physical chemistry on the basis of their focus on tiny particles, but the split has never firmly taken hold. 

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(99)80059-5