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Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

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.
Gerald Edgar's user avatar
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14 votes
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Who was the first to weigh chemical reaction products?

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 ...
Conifold's user avatar
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13 votes
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Why is Mendeleev credited with the discovery of the periodic table much more often than Meyer?

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 ...
Conifold's user avatar
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When was nicotine identified as an addictive substance?

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 ...
Conifold's user avatar
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What inspired Nicholson to break water into hydrogen and oxygen with electricity?

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 ...
Conifold's user avatar
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9 votes

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

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 ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
8 votes

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

Paul Krugman's research was caused by Isaac Azimov's Foundation novels. (For this answer, you have to accept economics as a science and you have to accept "caused scientists to do real research" in ...
user10089's user avatar
8 votes

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

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 ...
citrus128's user avatar
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How do we know Hennig Brand's name?

Hermann Peters, "Leibniz als Chemiker." Archiv für die Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und der Technik, Vol. 7, No. 2, Apr. 1916, pp. 85-108, reproduces (text only) correspondence between ...
njuffa's user avatar
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Why Saytzeff and Zaitsev Rules are named differently?

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 ...
Peter M. - stands for Monica's user avatar
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When was the geometric structure of a water molecule discovered?

Császára et al. J. Chem. Phys. 122, 214305 (2005) has a nice table of determination of the bond angle of water per year (missing probably Linus Pauling first predicting 90° from approximations in ...
Mauricio's user avatar
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6 votes

Why Saytzeff and Zaitsev Rules are named differently?

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 ...
fdb's user avatar
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What is the origin of "ortho-," "meta-," "para-," in chemistry?

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- ...
SBoZon's user avatar
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How did Meyer know atomic volumes to plot them just before Mendeleev's periodic table?

Good question. I had to look up his original paper which is freely available on Google Books and Hathi Trust. The paper is "Die Natur der chemischen Elemente als Function ihrer Atomgewichte; von ...
ACR's user avatar
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6 votes

When was mercury given its name?

Mercury was initially known Hydrargyros (in the times of Aristotle) and later known in its liquid state as Argenturn Vivurn translated “alive silver” or in English as “quicksilver" in the 4th ...
Mauricio's user avatar
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What is the evidence for the existence of Geber?

See Lawrence Principe, The Secrets of Alchemy (2013, The University of Chicago Press), page 33-on for Jabir and the Jabirian Corpus: "a person who played as large a role in Arabic alchemy as ...
Mauro ALLEGRANZA's user avatar
6 votes

What rule or rules did Madelung discover, exactly?

The only relevant section in E. Madelung's edited book, Die mathematischen Hilfsmittel der Physikers, Springer: Berlin, 1936 is a small paragraph. It seems Madelung just called this for electron book-...
ACR's user avatar
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Before the discovery of the neutron, how did scientists explain standard atomic weights?

Historically, the discovery of naturally-occurring isotopes of chemical elements by means of the mass-spectrograph provided a correct explanation for the fractional character of the experimentally-...
terry-s's user avatar
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Was carbon dioxide also called carbonic acid historically?

Yes. The Oxford English Dictionary gives instances of the term "Carbonic acid" meaning CO${}_2$ as old as about 1800. By 1900, the term "carbonic acid gas" was in common use for CO${}_2$ (my father ...
kimchi lover's user avatar
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What books did Lavoisier read?

There is online a Panopticon Lavoisier which is a tool for searching the Archives de l’Académie des sciences, Fonds Lavoisier. The link to "library" is introduced thus: The catalogue of ...
sand1's user avatar
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Were Michael Sendivogius findings in Chemistry considered by him to be Alchemy?

He referred to his work as alchemy. Further I liberally do grant and promise you a communication of more Notions than your Patron hath yet imparted to you, concerning as well the theoretical as the ...
SBoZon's user avatar
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Are there substances that were initially thought to be elements but are actually compounds?

"Are there substances that were initially thought to be elements but are actually compounds?" Good candidates for "substances initially thought to be elements but actually compounds&...
terry-s's user avatar
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What is the iodine fax process mentioned in Vannevar Bush's "As we may think"?

I suspect that Bush meant things like the Fultograph (as one example). They used paper that had been soaked in potassium iodide and starch. When electricity is passed through the paper, the iodine is ...
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4 votes

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

There was a boy born on October 5, 1882 who read The War of the worlds (1897, 1898) by H.G. Wells, at age 16 and became interested in space, which led to an experience on October 19, 1899. On this ...
M.A. Golding's user avatar
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Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

The Alcubierre drive concept. Miguel Alcubierre published his first and only paper on the concept while still a PhD student, stating that he drew inspiration from the Star Trek television series. (See ...
BMF's user avatar
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Looking for books on the history of chemistry?

I recommend Norton's History of Chemistry by William Brock. For a history of the periodic table try my own: Eric Scerri, The Periodic Table, Its Story and Its Significance, OUP, 2007.
Dr. Eric Scerri's user avatar
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Looking for books on the history of chemistry?

I agree that there are (surprisingly?) few books on the history of chemistry. The most succinct one is probably C. Cobb, H. Goldwhite; "Creations of Fire - Chemistry's Lively History from Alchemy to ...
cesaruliana's user avatar
4 votes
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What is the etymology of lower case p as the operator for the negative of the common logarithm?

How about this... pH 1909, from German PH, introduced by S.P.L. Sörensen, from P, for German Potenz "potency, power" + H, symbol for the hydrogen ion that determines acidity or alkalinity. ...
Gerald Edgar's user avatar
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4 votes

What was Pauling's claim about vitamin C?

Among other things (I was present at one of Pauling's lectures), Pauling used examples of Vitamin C levels in various mammals as evidence that humans should use more. FWIW, it was the opinion of most ...
Carl Witthoft's user avatar

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