Questions tagged [chemistry]

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

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29
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4answers
1k views

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 ...
26
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1answer
345 views

Contributions to chemistry from medieval Arabia

A lot of chemical terms such as alcohol, aldehyde, sugar/azucar, amalgam etc. are of Arabic origin. Did Arabic chemistry in medieval times achieve any scientific insights still valid today (such as '...
21
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2answers
980 views

To what degree did ancient Egyptians use Cement Chemistry

From a young age I have been taught that the stones used to create the great pyramids were mined. Concrete and cements were largely invented by the Romans/Greeks especially for use as mortar. More ...
14
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2answers
2k views

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 (...
13
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3answers
6k views

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 ...
13
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4answers
389 views

Scientific progress claimed to be caused by dreaming

Kekulé, who discovered the chemical formula for benzene in 1865, claimed that he had guessed the ring formula with the alternating single and double bonds in a day-dream. Are there similar examples of ...
13
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2answers
858 views

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 ...
11
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5answers
485 views

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 ...
10
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1answer
300 views

When and by who was fluoride found to prevent tooth decay?

In the Science Daily press release New evidence on how fluoride fights tooth decay (ACS, 2013), they report on recent research that may explain how fluoride strengthens tooth enamel. The report ...
10
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1answer
263 views

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, ...
10
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1answer
318 views

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 ...
9
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1answer
727 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 ...
9
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2answers
506 views

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 ...
9
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1answer
89 views

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 ...
8
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2answers
1k views

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?
8
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2answers
141 views

When was atomism first considered a scientific theory?

Of course it is difficult, if not impossible, to know whether classical philosophers that talked about atomism thought that "atoms" could be manipulated by men. However, I was startled to know that ...
8
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1answer
149 views

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 ...
8
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0answers
43 views

How did Staudinger demonstrate that polymers are high molecular weight covalently bonded molecules?

Hermann Staudinger was awarded the 1953 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work demonstrating that polymers are high molecular weight covalently bonded molecules. Prior to his work, the consensus among ...
7
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1answer
5k views

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, ...
7
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2answers
184 views

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, ...
7
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2answers
261 views

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, ...
7
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1answer
208 views

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....
6
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3answers
109 views

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? ...
6
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1answer
232 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
689 views

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 ...
6
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0answers
110 views

How did early physicists experimentally assign electronic transitions in atoms?

The spectrum of hydrogen was very well studied by the mid-19th century. However, if one were doing experimental spectroscopy for more complex atoms, one would see plenty of spectral lines in the ...
5
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2answers
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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 ...
5
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1answer
91 views

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 ...
5
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1answer
573 views

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 ...
5
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1answer
561 views

When did stoichiometry begin to be taught in U.S. high schools?

Stoichiometry, "the quantitative relationship between two or more substances especially in processes involving physical or chemical change" (Merriam-Webster), is currently a major part of the U.S. ...
5
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2answers
1k views

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?
5
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1answer
322 views

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 ...
5
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1answer
430 views

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 ...
5
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0answers
136 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
166 views

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. ...
4
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2answers
264 views

How did the early chemists make a connection between gram formula weight with 1 mole and Avogadro's number?

According to one historian Mustafa Sarikaya's article in Foundations of Chemistry DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9128-7, the mole concept was introduced to chemistry earlier than Avogadro’s number. The mole ...
4
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1answer
69 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
74 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
225 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
539 views

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?
3
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2answers
947 views

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 ...
3
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3answers
117 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
103 views

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....
3
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2answers
120 views

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",...
3
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1answer
130 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
685 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
178 views

How did the early chemists determine the atomic weight of hydrogen?

In early history, the relative atomic weight of hydrogen was assigned as 1 (exactly) and all other elements were compared against hydrogen. What is difficult to find who determined the absolute atomic ...
2
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1answer
128 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
174 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
114 views

Was the value of the mole invented or discovered in chemistry?

For example, $\pi$ is not an invention, it is a discovery which was natural, that is ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. But when we define a meter it is not a natural value it is ...