Questions tagged [chemistry]

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

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10
votes
1answer
317 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 ...
8
votes
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
504 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 ...
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, ...
13
votes
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 ...
9
votes
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 ...
14
votes
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 (...
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 ...
8
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2answers
140 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
299 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 ...
26
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1answer
343 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
976 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 ...
13
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4answers
387 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 ...