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Questions tagged [chemistry]

For questions about the study of chemical reactions, dynamics and related phenomena.

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Origins of molecular orbital diagrams?

Does anyone remember who proposed molecular diagrams for simple molecules as taught today in most general chemistry texts? I cannot access Hund's original article, however, Mulliken's early articles ...
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In the old days, how did chemists trap and measure gases?

The old days being roughly 1600 - 1850, the time when chemistry and the nature of the elements was being investigated empirically. For example, hydrogen gas was discovered by Robert Boyle in 1671 ...
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What inspired Nicholson to break water into hydrogen and oxygen with electricity?

It seems a bit of a stretch to go from a battery to electrolysis but this fellow appears to have thought of it only a few weeks after Volta invented the "pile" battery. I am wondering if he knew ...
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What were the early uses of differential equations for modeling chemical reactions?

What are some of the original examples of uses of differential equations for modeling and analyzing chemical reactions, particularly those relevant to biochemistry, involving proteins and enzymes? ...
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What was Pauling's Claim about Vitamin C

As I understand it after winning two (un-shared) Nobel prizes Linus Pauling began work which eventually had him recommending large amounts of vitamin C to all and sundry. When another scientist was ...
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Are there any records of the history for the development of speculum alloy?

I am curious if anyone has seen any records on how this alloy was first developed or perhaps accidentally discovered? One could ask a similar question for any alloy but since this is peculiar in ...
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When did people first become concerned about mercury in fish?

I can't find any information about the history of mercury in fish as a public health concern. When was it first recognized that fish contain higher levels of mercury than land animals? How long have ...
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Was carbon dioxide also called carbonic acid historically?

I am reading the classic paper by Thomas Andrews, in which he discovered the critical point. The gas he used in his experiments is called by him 'carbonic acid'. By its critical temperature being 31....
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Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research? Science fiction here means fiction that tries to explain things in the world rather than speculate about the future or unexplorable ...
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Earliest known usage of letter gamma “Γ” for reducible representation in group theory

Does any know the earliest known usage of the Greek letter gamma for showing a reducible representation of a group? This symbolism is commonly used in character tables in chemical applications of ...
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What is the first instance in which Mendeleev published a long-form table as compared with his 8-column table of 1869?

Mendeleev is famous for having published his first periodic table in 1869. This was a short-form or 8-column table. He also published a number of 18 column periodic tables. I am asking for ...
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Which chemists contributed to the work of chemical equilibrium (keq)?

Although really a minor detail and not that important for any practical purposes I really want to know how the term for the equilibrium constant, Keq was coined. Even if it was just because they ran ...
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Looking for books on the history of chemistry?

I'm looking for good books on history of chemistry and chemical methodology. There appear to be surprisingly few available on the market based on my own 'research' (just googling and phrase-searching ...
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Before the discovery of the neutron, how did scientists explain standard atomic weights?

The neutron was predicted in 1920 and discovered 12 years later. Before this time, how did scientists explain standard atomic weights? For example, Lithium has a standard atomic weight of about 6.9 ...
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How common were death and mutilation among chemists 1750-1950?

Several famous chemists were blown up, poisoned, blinded, mutilated or got lethally sick by radiation. Are these isolated anecdotes or was researching chemistry a truly dangerous job during the period ...
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Why is Mendeleev credited with the discovery of the periodic table much more often than Meyer?

The question "Why do we learn little about Mendeleev when compared to other science figures?" let me ask: Why do we learn next to nothing about Julius Lothar Meyer (1830-1895) who in parallel to ...
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Why do we learn little about Mendeleev when compared to other science figures?

This is not a question about chemistry as a science, but as a school discipline. Why is it that Mendeleev as a person is barely mentioned in chemistry courses compared to all the others, like Coulomb, ...
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How has it been discovered that water consists of acid and base?

The chemical composition of water was discovered about 1784, but when has it been discovered that it is also composed of acid and base?
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Why not proton volt instead of $eV$?

Why is eV used instead of proton V even if they would give the same value? I have this view: from electrochemistry's Faraday's law, scientists first calculated the charge of an electron. Then, they ...
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Most known teachers of specific branch of Science

After acquainting myself with the works of Richard Feynman in Physics: " The Feynman Lectures on Physics" and partially with the works of Donald Knuth in Programming: "The Art of Computer Programming",...
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What is the etymology of lower case p as the operator for the negative of the common logarithm?

In high school we were taught that the formula for pH is the negative of the common logarithm of hydrogen ion concentration: pH = -log[H+]. It wasn't until I took organic chemistry that the "acid ...
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Different sign conventions in thermodynamics different for physics and chemistry

Why are the sign conventions of work done in thermodynamics different for physics and chemistry?
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Why Saytzeff and Zaitsev Rules are named differently?

Saytzeff and Zaitsev rules are the same thing.Then why are they named differently?Some books favour to use Saytzeff while some prefer Zaitsev.Why are different names used for the same thing? Thanks ...
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How could John Dalton hypothesised his atomic theory based on his experimental observations?

The key of this question is not simply stating the content of his theory, but telling what results or principles he had at that time and how could they lead to the theory. He was as such the first ...
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Who is Hræðraford, the “learned clerk” “writing in modern chemical Latin”?

Truesdell, C. Rational Thermodynamics. New York, NY: Springer New York, 1984. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4612-5206-1, p. 41 says: … in the numerous papers and books whose titles and topics ...
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What is the difference between chemico-chemists and physico-chemists according to Van't Hoff?

“Whereas the chemico-chemists always find in industry a beautiful field of gold-laden soil, the physico-chemists stand somewhat farther off, especially those who seek only the greatest dilution, for ...
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Who did create the notions of acid, base, and salt first?

Who did create the notions of acid, base, and salt first? Many chemists had mentioned these 3 terms before Svante Arrhenius defined them in 1884. For example, Antoine Lavoisier mentioned the notions ...
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What is the origin of “ortho-,” “meta-,” “para-,” in chemistry?

The prefix "ortho-" means straight or right; "meta-" means beyond or after; "para-" means beside or along. How, then, did ortho-, meta- and para- come to refer to the carbon positions one, two, and ...
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What ever happened to the methylphenidate synthesiser and his family?

Leandro Panizzon 1 2 3 synthesised methylphenidate or something like that back in 1944. Ritalin is named after his wife Rita. He doesn't seem to have a Wikipedia page or anything. What happened to ...
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How did chemists figure out atomic weights, when hydrogen, etc., were first discovered?

Henry Cavendish isolated hydrogen in 1766, but I want to know if he knew the gas was actually $H_2$ instead of just a plain $H$ gas. This would make a major difference in the atomic weights, which ...
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How did the theories of Lavoisier, Davy, Arrhenius then Bronsted & Lowry come about?

What scientific experimentations, methods of thinking, ideas and so forth necessitate each individual definition of their acids / bases?
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Was Thomson's model of Plum Pudding widely accepted as a model of atom?

Was this model widely accepted in the time as a model for the atom? or was it just a model between many alternatives?
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557 views

Dmitri Mendeleev's Periodic Table

Dmitri Mendeleev arranged his first periodic table according to the number of protons and valency electrons. How did he, and others of his age, know of these subatomic particles and electron shell ...
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How was the composition and structure of water determined?

Water is a pretty basic molecule that people used since early science. What were the steps in figuring out what water is made of and what is its structure?
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Did anybody question the indivisibility of the atom because there were “too many” elements?

The realisation that the atom was divisible, and thus that elements were not the "fundamental building blocks" arguably began around 1897 with J. J. Thomson's discovery of the electron and proceeded ...
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History of Coagulation of Milk by Short Waves

In 1968 NASA, through the assistance of the Israel Program for Scientific Translation, translated from Russian the 1964 book "The Earth in the Universe", with chapters written by top Soviet scientists....
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Were there alternative names for electron orbitals?

Electrons orbits are referred to as s, p, d, and f, then alphabetically. These stand for sharp, principal, diffuse and fundamental respectively (or maybe the German translations). Was any other ...
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Modern usage of alchemical symbols

As far as I know, not many (if any) alchemical symbols have survived in modern nomenclature of science, either in chemistry or any other. I think $\LaTeX$ doesn't even support most of them! I know ...
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What are some of the most important scientific works done that have not received a Nobel prize? [closed]

Many of the 'famous' papers in the scientific community have resulted in Nobel prizes, but certainly that represents only a small fraction of notably important papers throughout scientific history. ...
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What new mathematics was inspired by biology and chemistry?

While physics and astronomy sported mathematical models for centuries mathematical chemistry and biology appeared relatively recently. Most of the interaction seems to go one way, established ...
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Who invented the mole?

Who invented, or first used, the concept of the mole? I did my own research and the closest I came was Avogadro’s constant, which was made not by Avogadro but rather by Jean Baptiste Perrin. However, ...
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A reason for why Leucippus isn't credited the original “atomist” in the norm?

His exact contributions are difficult to disentangle from those of his mentor Leucippus, as they are often mentioned together in texts. Their speculation on atoms, taken from Leucippus, bears a ...
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Was the phlogiston theory ahead of its time?

I've always "known" that the phlogiston theory was naive and unsupported by the facts, which is why it was toppled pretty much instantaneously by Lavoisier's discovery of the role of oxygen. However, ...
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What is the historical reasoning for electron orbital names?

Electron orbitals are referred to as s, p, d and f. I have read that there was a Latinate basis for this, but never found anything more specific. (Obviously, the discovery of electron orbitals by Bohr ...
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On the use of $\mathrm{\delta^{18}O}$ as temperature proxy

$\mathrm{\delta^{18}O}$ (i. e. the ratio of $\mathrm{^{18}O/^{16}O}$ compared to a standard) is massively used today in paleoclimatology as a global temperature proxy. But how did it become a proxy ...
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Are there historical examples of thought experiments in biology and chemistry?

Thought experiments, imaginary situations designed to ponder conclusions of a theory, have been used throughout history. There is even a Stanford encyclopedia article about them. But the famous ones ...
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When were the abbreviations of chemical elements standardized?

This is going to be tricky because the discovery/synthesis of elements has taken place over centuries. It might be best to restrict this purely to the elements contained on Dmitri Mendeleyev's table, ...
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What was wrong with the caloric theory?

The caloric theory was replaced by the modern understanding of thermodynamics in the mid-1800's. In this theory, heat is a physical fluid that flows from one object to another; this flow causes ...
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Depiction of molecules and reactions prior to the introduction of Lewis structures?

In chemistry, especially organic chemistry, molecules and reactions are usually schematically depicted by Lewis structures which provide a representation that makes it easy to grasp the structure and ...
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Did Alfred Nobel collect his wealth by selling dynamite?

At the start of my chemistry course, my professor told a story: He said that Alfred Nobel invented dynamite (which is true) and he accumulated his wealth by selling it to both parties A and B (...