Questions tagged [history-of-chemistry]

Questions regarding the development and exploration of chemical ideas, innovations, and discoveries.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
2
votes
1answer
80 views

How can one determine an atomic mass with high accuracy using gravimetric analysis?

In the Wikipedia article on gravimetric analysis it is said that gravimetric analysis was used to determine the atomic masses of many elements in the periodic table to six figure accuracy. There are, ...
5
votes
1answer
160 views

Who came up with the box and arrow diagrams for electron configurations?

In general chemistry texts, the electron configurations are sometimes shown in boxes with up and down arrows to show the concept of paired spins. My impression for years was that Hund used such ...
3
votes
0answers
67 views

The phlogiston theory [closed]

I have looked this theory up on google and found that the theory is that when metal is burnt calx (metal oxide) and phlogiston is created (metal --> calx + phlogiston). Then I found out that ...
6
votes
1answer
267 views

How does de Broglie actually prove Bohr's postulates?

We know Bohr said that the angular momentum of an electron is an integral multiple of $nh/(2π).$ And in de Broglie's wave equation, he said the circumference of the path of the electron traveling as a ...
4
votes
1answer
92 views

Origin of the name of barbituric acid

Recently, I have encountered two different accounts explaining the origins of the name "barbituric acid". Both accounts do mention that the name of this compound was given by the famous organic ...
21
votes
2answers
4k views

Storing hydrofluoric acid before the invention of plastics

The first person to synthesize hydrofluoric acid in large quantities was Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1771. This acid is known for its ability to corrode glass and metals. What materials were the ...
1
vote
0answers
62 views

Why was silver considered valuable in history? [closed]

Silver has been used for several millenia and (according to the german wikipedia page) was at some point even considered more valuable than gold. Today we know that it has the highest thermal ...
10
votes
1answer
875 views

Why was a Plimsoll symbol chosen to indicate standard state?

Historically, the Plimsoll symbol (aka Plimsoll line) was created as hull mark that would serve as a ready indicator of whether a ship was overloaded and thus running too low in the water. It was ...
1
vote
1answer
43 views

Thought process behind Rutherford's gold foil experiment

In Rutherford's gold foil experiment, if he at first thought the atom looked like the plum pudding (as Thomson had said), why did he think the alpha particles would not be repelled by the positive "...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

How did J. J. Thomson prove that the cathode rays were made of negative particles and not negative rays?

In Thomson's experiment, he used a discharge tube to prove that the cathode rays that emanate from the cathode were made of "a stream of negatively charged particles" because they were repelled by an ...
3
votes
0answers
682 views

Don't understand why Rutherford was shocked by results of gold foil experiment

The way Rutherford's classic gold foil experiment has been presented (including by Rutherford himself) doesn't make sense to me. As many of you know, Rutherford famously described himself as being ...
1
vote
1answer
59 views

How do I get Mass spectrometry graph, history, and Infra-red spectroscopy graph for Secnidazole?

My chemistry teacher wants me to create an academic poster for a recently-discovered biologically important organic molecule with chirality that is relatively small and is also recent. Secnidazole (...
1
vote
1answer
89 views

How did early chemists measure mass of atoms?

Here a book says that Berzelius measured atomic masses using a simple lab and his measurements was so close to modern results. Can someone explain how a person living in 19th century was able to ...
2
votes
0answers
60 views

origin of use of differential equations for modeling chemical reactions? [closed]

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? ...
7
votes
1answer
154 views

Trying to understand the contradiction in the data of Proust/Dalton/Berzelius vs Gay-Lussac

I am trying to understand some of the historical context behind the discovery of atoms (pre-Avogadro). In particular, I am getting stuck in reading the following documents: http://physics.unl.edu/~...
9
votes
1answer
64 views

When did the realistic typesetting of chemical structures start?

In many old chemistry books there were limitations on how chemical structures could be represented driven, presumably, by the desire to use available typesetting methods to save costs. For example, ...
3
votes
1answer
97 views

etymology of supernatant

Why do we call a solution that has been centrifuged a supernatant? It seems to me that a "natant" should be something that floats (from Latin "natare" meaning "to swim"), and a "supernatant" should be ...
10
votes
0answers
220 views

Were gold(II) complexes synthesized for the first time in 2017?

Recently in the Google news feed, I discovered this news: Gold stabilized in very rare oxidation state +II Missing golden link found: Divalent gold complex isolated for the first time in a ...
7
votes
1answer
265 views

Pople Basis Set Abnormality: 3rd row 6-311G

I noticed when looking through the Basis set exchange website that the 6-311 Pople basis sets don't at all match their formulation once you go past the 2nd row of the periodic table. For example, ...
3
votes
1answer
128 views

How long does it take to replicate Friedrich Wohler's synthesis of urea?

I’m an author, writing a story where a doctor from modern day gets dropped into the late 1800s in California. They need urea to help a patient. Friedrich Wohler's synthesis of urea happened before ...
1
vote
0answers
90 views

Where can I access H. Landolt's article/book on his Iodine Clock experiments?

I simply want to take a look at Landolt's original writings and data so that I can make notes and reference it for a report I'm writing. I've looked everywhere on Google and I can't find anything ...
8
votes
1answer
141 views

What is “physicist's water”?

There is a statement on page 60 of this dissertation: the "physicist's water molecule" ($\ce{O-H = 1.1 \mathrm{\mathring{A}}, \angle HOH = 104^\circ}$) I understand it to be a model similar to the ...
3
votes
0answers
130 views

Alternatives to Dalton's atomic theory

During the 19th century many scientists did not believe in Dalton's theory of atoms. What was the alternative view of matter?
11
votes
2answers
532 views

Misleading features of Lewis Dot Representation

Today I had an embarrassing experience when I sat to help my nephew learn Lewis' Dot Representation and realized that I actually don't get it at all. I have a physics background and always thought ...
11
votes
1answer
124 views

Anthracine blue composition

In 1873 a German chemist named Springmühl announced a derivative of alizarin which acted as a blue dye and he sold this dye for a high price. The dye was sometimes called "anthracine blue" and ...
8
votes
2answers
219 views

How did Joseph-Louis Proust know what gases weighed?

Proust's work led him to conclude that compounds always contain the same ratio, by weight, of their constituent elements. How did he know (or deduce?) what gases weighed? Precise answers appreciated ...
6
votes
1answer
911 views

Was Wöhler’s urea synthesis carried out with or without oxygen?

I learnt and was very impressed by the urea synthesis by Wöhler in 1828. The reaction was the heating of ammonium cyanate. One of my textbooks in the library said that ammonium cyanate was heated ‘in ...
2
votes
0answers
96 views

What explosive compound would be the most likely first explosive developed by a race? [closed]

Elaboration on title: What would most likely be the first explosive compound that some individual would create if they were just mixing together random things they had available? I'm not talking about ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Which poison was used in the failed attempt to assassinate Khaled Mashal of Hamas?

This question is both historical and chemistry-related, but I'm posting it here because I am more interested in the chemical part: In 1997, Israel tried to assassinate Khaled Mashal, a high-rank ...
3
votes
1answer
965 views

On the periodic table: Why are groups of elements organized by 'letter' [duplicate]

Why are the groups of elements on the periodic table organized into areas represented by the letters s,p,d,f,g, and h? What does this mean?
11
votes
1answer
152 views

Etymology of “normality”

Why the concentration of a solution expressed in gram equivalent weights of solute per litre of solution is termed as "normality" ? Does it have anything to do with the word "normal" ?
0
votes
1answer
59 views

How were weights of elements and compounds determined? [duplicate]

I have browsed through many questions on this site but I still don't understand this: How chemists in the past used to determine the weight of substances (which I believe they randomly called ...
0
votes
0answers
47 views

How did ancient chemists know the constitution of various compounds [duplicate]

During times when there was no spectroscopy of any kind, people did make guesses on the molecular constituency and structure. For example, John Dalton's original atomic hypothesis was that all ...
4
votes
0answers
94 views

The history of ethylene

According to the history section in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene, "the name ethylene was used in this sense as early as 1852". However, the earliest mention of it I could find was in 1859 (...
2
votes
1answer
318 views

How was the potassium battery invented?

It is said that mobile phones using potassium battery can be charged within a few minutes. Was it an accidental discovery or the companies made a new design for faster charging?
8
votes
1answer
7k views

Democritus vs John Dalton atomic theory

What is the difference between atomic theory given by Democritus and John Dalton? Because I have read in many books and figured out that both theories explain the same i.e atom is an indivisible ...
10
votes
2answers
396 views

What organizational methods pre-date the Periodic Table?

Dmitri Mendeleev noticed patterns in elements which allowed him to design the periodic table which ultimately led to the modern periodic table. How were elements organized before this? Was there any ...
8
votes
0answers
278 views

What “physical method” does Feynman refer to in The Feynman Lectures on Physics (Vol 1)

In the introductory chapter, Atoms in Motion, of the Feynman Lectures on Physics (Volume One), Feynman alludes to a certain "physical method", which can be used to determine the structure of α-iron (...
1
vote
0answers
246 views

Benzene ring position labeling (ortho vs para)

Why is the ortho position on a benzene ring next to the primary carbon and not in the opposite position, as ortho means "straight", not "next to" as in para?
2
votes
1answer
348 views

Why there is no temperature scale tied to normal human body temperature?

Fahrenheit: The lower defining point, 0 °F, was established as the temperature of a solution of brine made from equal parts of ice and salt. Celsius: 0 °C was defined as the freezing point of ...
6
votes
1answer
179 views

Why does one of Dalton's compound elements with oxygen and phosphor consists of four atoms instead of two?

I stumbled across a peculiar detail while reading the chapter about the Chemical Revolution in Bowler and Morus' book Making Modern Science. According to this book, Dalton argued that compound ...
-3
votes
1answer
277 views

The Sørensen pH scale and strong acids diltution from pH 1 to pH 4 by 1000 times?

I am reading a chemistry book that makes the following point about Sørensen's pH discovery regarding [H+] being in negative powers of 10: To dilute a solution from a pH 1 to a pH 4 (just 3 pH ...
4
votes
0answers
1k views

When was the symbol for potassium changed from Ka to K?

Wikipedia says that Ka was a symbol for potassium once. Current symbol is K. Name changed due to a standardization of, modernization of, or update to older formerly-used symbol. When was the ...
23
votes
11answers
3k views

Help me identify this glassware!

I'm a freshly graduated physics and math teacher moved into a small school from the late 1920s. The equipment here is old and confusing, at the very least. I have found many things which I have ...
1
vote
0answers
59 views

What were the original methods for determining atomic weights?

I am reading "History of Chemistry" by William Brock and I am confused about the original methods (early 1800s) used to determine molecular weights and hence determine the correct formulae for pure ...
6
votes
1answer
292 views

Why is UuX used as a symbol for unnamed elements on the periodic table?

Until recently, the last few elements on the periodic table had the chemical symbols (now they have formal chemical symbols!): Uub, Uut, Uuq, Uup, Uuh, Uus, and Uuo Why did they have these temporary ...
8
votes
1answer
233 views

Discovery of optical activity of enantiomers - where did the idea of using polarized light came from?

According to Wikipedia, optical activity was first observed in 1811 in quartz. Louis Pasteur's contribution is also mentioned there and in other sources as a major advancement in establishing optical ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

How was Avogadro's law discovered?

What was the experimental setup and/or reasoning that Amedeo Avogadro, in 1811, used to arrive at the conclusion that "equal volumes of all gases, at the same temperature and pressure, have the same ...
3
votes
1answer
982 views

Is Dalton's Atomic Theory a theory or a postulate?

It is always mentioned that Dalton proposed an Atomic Theory. But when you read it, it consists of the following: The main points of Dalton’s atomic theory, an explanation of the structure of ...
12
votes
2answers
686 views

Identification of Sir Raman's handheld scope

I read an article somewhere around 5-10 years ago that talked a little bit about the life of Sir C. V. Raman. The focus was on the effect of Raman spectroscopy but included an interesting little ...