# Tag Info

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Jabir ibn Hayyan was the first to describe processes such as liquefaction, crystallisation, distillation, purification, oxidisation, evaporation and filtration. He also did an early classification of chemical elements around their properties which seems pertinent, and noted that "a certain quantity of acid is necessary in order to neutralize a given amount ...

22

In 1959, Eugene Wigner presented a talk on The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences. Many papers on the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in this field, that field, and some other field quickly followed suit. As an opposing point of view, the unreasonably effective (800+ papers, 30+ books) mathematician I.M.Gelfand noted ...

19

I too was told this story, by my father as we drove through Nobel, Ontario. While the main purpose of dynamite may never have been warfare, it most certainly was used for that purpose during his lifetime, and he didn't expect or like that very much. As well, he invented a number of other chemicals which were explicitly for use in war, but he didn't feel they ...

14

Of course Mendeleev had no idea about protons or electrons. It is he who discovered the integer which we call atomic number, and which was later found to be the number of protons. The story of this discovery is approximately this. He was preparing to his chemistry course where he was supposed to give a survey of elements. He had to choose some logical ...

14

We shall never know who was first. The term "stoichiometry" was introduced by Richter in The Art of Measuring the Chemical Elements only in 1792, but the practice long predates modern chemistry. It was done by metal workers and alchemists in the centuries past, although they had few means to control for confounding factors, such as escaping gases or ...

13

This is an interesting case that might have never been discovered had it not been for another effect of high fluoride levels in water. Here's the (relatively well-known) history. In 1901, after graduating from dental school, Dr. Frederick McKay moved from the east coast USA to Colorado Springs, Colorado to start a dental practice. When he reached there, he ...

13

Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke is often credited with the idea of communication satellites. link That was in 1945, long before any artificial satellite had been launched in reality.

12

This is a correct observation. Chemistry and biology indeed contributed very little to mathematics itself. One of the examples of chemistry contribution is the "Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction". This was an experimental discovery whose explanation stimulated to some extent the development of the theory of dynamical systems (known as "chaos theory" in the ...

11

The timeline is well-known, even Wikipedia has a specific article on History of the Periodic Table. Several people suggested some version of the periodic law in 1860-s before Mendeleev, including Meyer (1864), Newlands (1863-1867), Odling (1864) and Hinrichs (1867). Meyer's original table only had 44 elements, Odling's had 57. Meyer's expanded table was only ...

10

This question is intimately connected with the first law of thermodynamics, aka conservation of energy. Kuhn did a detailed study of the question in his paper "Energy Conservation as an Example of Simultaneous Discovery" (reprinted in The Essential Tension). Also quite informative: the introduction by Mendoza to the collection Reflections on the Motive Power ...

10

Mander's Carnocycle blog has a post Carlisle, Nicholson and the discovery of electrolysis with a detailed account of the story. I will only give the highlights. On March 20th, 1800 Volta wrote to Sir Banks, the President of the Royal Society in London, describing the construction of his pile. It was an alternating assemblage of zinc and silver disc pairs ...

10

It is a blunder, but there is a saving grace to it, even two. Nicotiana is the Latin name of tobacco, and it was in use as early as 16th century, and not just by botanists. Moreover, for the first 50 years tobacco was seen as a medicinal herb (after its primary use by American Indians) rather than a recreational drug. Fletcher in The History of Nicotine ...

9

August Horstmann first introduced the concept of gram-molecular weight in the sense of today’s mole concept in 1881. In 1865 Loschmidt first estimated the number of molecules in a cubic centimetre of a gas under normal conditions as 1.83 × 10$^{18}$, and in 1889 Than first determined the gram-molecular volume of gases under normal conditions as 22,330 cm$^3$....

9

No, it was not the only one, but 19th century models were purely speculative, and Lewis did not publicize his 1902 cubical atom until 1916. So in 1904, when Thomson proposed his plum pudding, the only real competition was Nagaoka's 1903 Saturnian atom, a large, massive, positively charged sphere, encircled by hundreds of light-weight electrons arranged into ...

8

Here are some prominent examples of unrecognized discoveries; the actual publications should be easily findable online. Note that I've only included omitted discoveries, not omitted individuals (such as Lise Meitner's omission for nuclear fission, or Chien-Shiung Wu's for parity conservation). I've also only included work whose inventor was still alive when ...

8

One such case comes to my mind: Jules Verne's novel Green ray (1882). Jules Verne popularized this rare phenomenon, and it seems that it has not been scientifically studied before. After Jules Verne novel, the green ray has been photographed and explained. See Wikipedia "Green flash" where there is a list of literature (Jules Verne included!).

7

How about: (1) the logistic equation of Pierre François Verhulst (describing the change in a population over time, published 1838) leads to (2) Feigenbaum's work on chaos.

7

The basis is actually pure English, not Latinate. They stand for: sharp, principal, diffuse, and fundamental. You might be interested in this: The Origin of the s,p,d,f Orbital Labels, which is a short essay by the historian of chemistry William Jensen.

7

Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan claimed and is often said to have come up with theorems and questions in his dreams. For example: Ramanujan's Mock Modular Forms: Indian Mathematician's Dream Conjecture Finally Proven While on his death bed, the brilliant Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan cryptically wrote down functions he said came to ...

7

In German language, "Z" is pronounced like English "ts", and "S" is pronounced like English "z". So a German reader would pronounce “Saytzeff” close to his Russian name, Зайцев. So “Saytzeff” is close to German phonetic to his (Russian) name, while Zaitsev would be transliteration of it, or writing it in a way so English-speaking reader can pronounce it ...

6

In biology, so far I've found Levinthal's Paradox. The transcript from a lecture given by Prof. Cyrus Levinthal can be found at the previous link. The gist of the paradox is this (not a quote; the indent is used for emphasis): There exists a multitude of shapes proteins can take, yet they manage to fold into the correct shape extremely quickly. The ...

6

We can see the SEP entry : Atomism from the 17th to the 20th Century by Alan Chalmers for a useful overview. See in particular the Concluding Remarks : If we take atomism to involve the claim that the properties of macroscopic matter arise as a result of the combinations and motions of tiny particles, then it is a position confirmed by the time of the ...

6

Hasok Chang is pretty mainstream: former President and Vice President of the British Society for the History of Science. His article We Have Never Been Whiggish (About Phlogiston) begins: From a modern perspective, Lavoisier’s theory is just as wrong as advanced versions of the phlogiston theory. Three of the central pillars of Lavoisier’s system are ...

6

The question would not have made sense in 1766, and for a while after. At the time chemistry was still transitioning from the dominance of alchemic ideas, notation and terminology. Lavoisier's 1789 list of elements for example still bears the hallmarks of Aristotle's four elements with multiple "earths" and "airs", and includes caloric fluid (heat) and "...

6

Wilhelm Körner between 1866-1874 was the first to use it to differentiate isomers of benzene rings. Since the Greek suffixes are fairly vague he chose them arbitrary. Its interesting he used orth- for 1,4 isomer, meta- for the 1,2 isomer , and pera- for the 1,3 isomer. While later chemists used orth- for 1,2 isomer, meta- for the 1,3 isomer , and pera- for ...

6

The rule is named after the Russian chemist Александр Михайлович Зайцев. He studied in Germany and wrote most of his papers in German, spelling his name consistently as “Saytzeff”. Zaytsev or Zaitsev are English spellings of the same name. Actually, there is a case for spelling Russian names the way their bearers did themselves when they used Western ...

6

While it may not be research exactly, the fictional cases of Sherlock Holmes did actually influence the way real world police agencies and detectives approached forensic science. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about Holmes using fingerprint identification roughly 10 years before the police started to rely on it. Also, Holmes did a lot of soil analysis ...

5

You're not going to believe this, but it turns out that the guy behind this was none other than Harold Urey (Yes, the Harold Urey of the Miller-Urey experiment!). He made the discovery of the correlation sometime in the 1950s, and with his nuclear background, he was well aware of the properties of isotopes. He studied small ancient fossilized creatures ...

5

"Daisyworld" comes to mind as a thought experiment in ecology/earth-system science (it was also simulated on computer but it is really just a thought experiment). For those not familiar with it, it is an experiment designed by James Lovelock (of Gaia Theory fame) and Andrew Watson in 1983. The settings, from the paper itself: Daisyworld is a cloudless ...

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