Questions tagged [history-of-chemistry]

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

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Did JJ Thomson know about Eugen Goldstein’s experiment discovering canal rays?

We learn that JJ Thomson discovered the electron in 1897. Several years EARLIER in 1886, Eugen Goldstein performs the same experiment but with the anode and cathode switched to produce positively ...
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52 views

Who coined the term “gas evolution reaction”?

I found a paper from 1812 which specifically mentions the evolution of a gas [1]. There is a similar reference from 1808, except it uses the term evolution to speak of green light emitted when a ...
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Significance of Law of reciprocal proportions

The laws of conservation of mass, definite proportions multiple proportions makes sense and were definitely useful for chemists in the early days of modern chemistry. The law of reciprocal ...
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Why is '-ethane' in 'methane'?

Is there a chemical or historical significance in the fact that 'ethane' is just 'methane' without the 'm'?
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Vital force theory [closed]

The vital force theory of organic compounds was disproved by a scientist Friedrich Wöhler is 1828 as follows: Urea is a organic compound which was thought to be made only inside the bodies of living ...
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1answer
21 views

What does the term 'by mass' mean with respect to different contexts?

I've seen the term 'by mass' being used in various sorts of contexts. Some, while explaining the law of definite proportions say, the 'same proportions by mass', some say 'constant chemical ...
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How would someone in 1917 describe elements 43, 61, 72, 75, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 91? [closed]

https://books.google.com/books?id=aaELAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false Notice the list of elements on pages 62–63. It includes a short description of each element's "...
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What is the intuition behind 'mol' as a unit 'symbol'

Why are moles written with 'mol' as opposed to something which is easier to write with one character, or even two?
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Ambiguity in definition of primary valency in Werner's theory

In Concise Inorganic Chemistry (5th Edition) on page 196 , the primary valency of $\ce{[Co(NH3)5Cl]Cl2}$ is given to be 2. In other textbooks and in the question here, we get the idea that: The ...
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What is “activated red phosphorus”? What made it so long to be discovered?

[WP = white phosphorus ; RP = red phosphorus ; ARP = activated red phosphorus] Tom from Extraction & Ire did a video two years ago(2018) on converting WP to RP by keeping the former in sunlight ...
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What is the name origin of ester?

Ester is quite a random nomenclature for a compound derived from a parent acid and parent alcohol. Is there any reasoning behind using the word 'ester' to name such compound (for memorising purpose)? ...
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What lab equipment did Marie Curie use to isolate radium?

My experience in growing crystals for condensed matter physics has been sealing grams of material in ampoules which get heated in laboratory furnaces, so I don't have the experience to understand how ...
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Who came up with C1V1 = C2V2? [closed]

I was wondering if there is an original scientific publication showing why $C_1V_1 = C_2V_2$ works. Or perhaps, who described/used it first?
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How did Joseph Priestly discover carbon monoxide?

In my readings about the history of chemistry, I've come across the story of the incredible chemist and scientist Joseph Priestly. My question is just about one of his discoveries - the discovery of ...
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Has mercury(II) cyanate ever isolated as a free compound?

Recently, I have answered a question "Comparing explosive properties of mercury(II) cyanate and mercury(II) fulminate" where stability of cyanate vs fulminate was discussed. While I was ...
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1answer
65 views

A theoretical chemistry question about elements and their presence over time [closed]

I'm not a chemist myself, but I can't think of a better place to get some insight about elements and chemistry than from people who live and breathe it here on stackexchange. This is not any kind of ...
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How did Mendeleev know elements from compounds or mixtures?

I read that Mendeleev initially thought didymium was an element, but it was actually a mixture. How did he know the rest of the chemicals in the periodic table were elements and not compounds, ...
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How were urolithins discovered and named?

Urolithin is a product of the degradation of ellagic acid by gut flora and has significant biological activity. (Wikipedia) I am curious as to how it was discovered but cannot find the story. Although ...
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72 views

Where to find a comprehensive list of chemical/biochemical etymologies?

I've found lists like this, which explain what different root words mean. But I'm looking for explanations of why those roots mean those things. For example, why does carbonyl refer to a carbon double ...
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1answer
107 views

Who was C.H. Kao?

I am editing a Wikipedia article about the Chen-Kao reaction that is used to identify ephedrine, but I am unable to find biographical info on C. H. Kao: K.K. Chen and C.H. Kao - Ephedrine and ...
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Distilling milligram quantities of oil like it's late 1970s

In a currently retracted* manuscript by Tomas Hudlicky [1, Retraction Watch] the following has been noted: Fifty years ago professors took an active part in all laboratory instructions and they ...
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1answer
32 views

Conversion factor for chemical to physical scale of atomic masses

Before the 1960s chemists and physicists used to have different atomic mass tables. The main difference was that the physicists assigned the $^{16}$O as the O=16 from mass spectrometry. Chemists on ...
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Why was Avogadro's number chosen to be the value that it is? [closed]

I understand that the mole is an extremely useful way of measuring and understanding atomic quantities. I did find some history of the number in its wikipedia article, but I did not find an answer to ...
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1answer
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What did Richter mean regarding an acid base reaction?

Recently I've been reviewing concepts belonging to the history of chemistry. But I came stuck at trying to understand a passage which I read from wikipedia entry (and which it seems has been mentioned ...
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1answer
258 views

Why aren't Boron and Aluminium assigned to group 3 of periodic table? What determines the group? [closed]

I've been curious about this 3D representation of the periodic table "Mendeleev's Flower" and was trying to study it, wondering if it reveals any regularities that are not obvious from classic ...
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1answer
181 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, ...
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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 ...
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1answer
126 views

How did Thomson calculate the momentum of electron when he didn't know the mass of electron?

This was proven in 1903 by J. J. Thomson who calculated that the momentum of the electrons hitting the paddle wheel would only be sufficient to turn the wheel one revolution per minute. source J. J. ...
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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 ...
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1answer
798 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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 "...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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66 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 (...
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1answer
147 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 ...
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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? ...
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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/~...
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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, ...
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139 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 ...
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276 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 ...
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333 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, ...
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1answer
151 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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?
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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 ...