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
0answers
71 views

What dodecahedral molecule is Linus Pauling likely holding in this photograph? Does it have 40 carbon atoms? [closed]

The video Quasicrystals ; Prof. Daniel Shechtman ; Nobel Prize in Chemistry shows Professor Dan Shechtman includes some photos of Linus Pauling who never believed in quasicrystals. From the video: ...
7
votes
1answer
411 views

Naming of the chemical elements and original sentences by the discoverers

Does anyone recall a printed or an online compilation where the names of all the chemical elements are listed along with the original sentence, from a research paper, containing the name of the ...
4
votes
1answer
151 views

On what basis are the prefixes α and β given to black phosphorus?

My textbook says the following about black phosphorus: α black phosphorus is formed when red phosphorus is heated in a sealed tube at $\pu{803 K}$. β black phosphorous is prepared by heating white ...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

When was the mass of hydrogen known?

During Robert Milikan's time, he uses the charge-to-mass ratio from J.J. Thomson's research of the electron (which is $1.759\cdot10^{11}\ \mathrm{C/kg}$) to calculate the mass of electron. Did he know ...
2
votes
2answers
131 views

Why wasn't Lu Jeu Sham awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize with Walter Kohn? [closed]

Reviewing part of the history behind computational chemistry for my thesis I could not understand why only Walter Kohn was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (with John Pople getting the other ...
16
votes
3answers
575 views

Why were quasicrystals initially so controversial?

I am a mathematician. My (limited) understanding is that quasicrystals are structured as parts of aperiodic tilings of $\mathbb{R}^3$. Such tilings were already known when Shechtman first studied his ...
5
votes
1answer
120 views

What is/was "uraneous oxide"? Was it an accepted name for a compound or mixed oxides of uranium?

In This National Technical Reports Library page for a 1965 report Method for Coating Actinide Particles in the list of keywords both Uranium compounds and Uraneous oxide are listed. But I don't find ...
3
votes
4answers
745 views

Why do chemists work with common logarithms (base 10)?

In my understanding, every operation we do in $\log_{10}$ can be done in the natural logarithm itself and it should be better because mathematical integrals naturally give out expressions involving ...
-2
votes
1answer
67 views

Why are electrons pictured to be revolving around the nucleus in Bohr's model [closed]

Why exactly was it guessed by Bohr that electrons do revolve around nucleus in orbits than stay stationary around it in some discreet locations corresponding to a specific energy, or go around some ...
0
votes
0answers
25 views

Is there a specific historical figure or era that is most responsible for our current definitions of "physical change" and "chemical change"?

I understand that there is a very blurred distinction between the idea of a physical and a chemical change at advanced levels of chemistry, so I'm referring mainly to the definitions provided in most ...
9
votes
1answer
617 views

How was pH measured back in the day if you had nothing to calibrate to?

We learn about indicators but these seem awfully useless if you have no clue what pH the color change occurs at. How did early chemists figure this out? I guess more broadly, how was the hydronium ...
1
vote
1answer
54 views

Rutherford's Alpha Ray Scattering Experiment & Plum-Pudding Model

My teacher said, "Rutherford thought that all the Alpha particles would directly go through the gold foil without any collision if the plum pudding model was right. Because, as said in plum ...
1
vote
0answers
43 views

What common observations in chemistry were unexplainable by an early twentieth century chemistry who had no knowledge of relativity

I was reading quite a well-known paper titled 'Relativistic Effects in Structural Chemistry' by PEKKA PYYKKO, and in it, he states that 'it was not until the 1970s that the full relevance of ...
4
votes
0answers
105 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
70 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
194 views

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 ...
30
votes
4answers
7k views

Why is '-ethane' in 'methane'?

Is there a chemical or historical significance in the fact that 'ethane' is just 'methane' without the 'm'?
-2
votes
1answer
312 views

Vital force theory [closed]

What is the vital force theory? 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
39 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
68 views

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 "...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

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?
2
votes
1answer
187 views

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 ...
2
votes
0answers
127 views

What is "activated red phosphorus"?

[WP = white phosphorus ; RP = red phosphorus ; ARP = activated red phosphorus] A YT channel, Extraction & Ire has a video from two years ago (2018) on converting WP to RP by keeping the former in ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

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)? ...
1
vote
2answers
131 views

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 ...
0
votes
1answer
285 views

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?
0
votes
0answers
43 views

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 ...
2
votes
0answers
91 views

Does mercury(II) cyanate exist?

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
69 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
522 views

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, ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
77 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
115 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 ...
7
votes
0answers
149 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
39 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
6k views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
216 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
559 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
308 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
292 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
1answer
229 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. ...
3
votes
0answers
110 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
2answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
251 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
72 views

How were the Hoffman's and the Zaitsev's rule formulated even before the discovery of the electron?

I recently studied Zaitsev's and Hoffman's rules for deciding which product is formed via elimination and noticed that the rules for formulated much before the discovery of electrons and any ...
24
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
65 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
2k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
93 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
4k 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 ...