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Questions tagged [history-of-chemistry]

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

21
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2answers
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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 ...
0
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0answers
16 views

evidence for elements and alternative theories [closed]

What were the key pieces of evidence, experimental and theoretical, for the existence of elements? Can someone point to a history of this? Related, what was the most recent "alternative" theory, ie a ...
1
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0answers
58 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
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1answer
608 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 ...
0
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0answers
25 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
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1answer
416 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 ...
4
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0answers
325 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
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1answer
54 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
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1answer
76 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 ...
1
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0answers
48 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
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1answer
136 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/~...
10
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1answer
60 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
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1answer
62 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
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0answers
159 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
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1answer
221 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
110 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
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0answers
70 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 ...
9
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1answer
136 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
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0answers
97 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
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2answers
454 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
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1answer
111 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
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2answers
178 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
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1answer
635 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
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0answers
93 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 ...
5
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1answer
1k 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
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1answer
870 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?
0
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1answer
54 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
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0answers
46 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
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0answers
81 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
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1answer
303 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
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1answer
5k 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
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2answers
290 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 ...
6
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0answers
144 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 (...
2
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0answers
195 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
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1answer
341 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
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1answer
169 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
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1answer
267 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 ...
5
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0answers
654 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
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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 ...
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0answers
58 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
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1answer
218 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
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1answer
217 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
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1answer
1k 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 ...
4
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1answer
690 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
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2answers
668 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 ...
5
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1answer
88 views

History of the word copperas

I searched for copperas on google and it says ferrous sulphate. My dictionary shows that the word copperas is derived from copper. I was just wondering what has ferrous sulphate to do with copper
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0answers
115 views

What were some major breakthroughs in chemistry in 2016? [closed]

What breakthroughs have been made in the different fields of chemistry in the past 366 days? This might help me and others know advances made in different field. I know this question is too broad, ...
7
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1answer
101 views

How did early chemists measure concentrations and purity?

My chemistry teacher loves going back through the history of famous chemists. This got me wondering how these chemists would first determine the concentration of a sample before they had any other ...
4
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1answer
1k views

Is the compound CM-7 in Red Comet fire grenades azeotropic dichloromethane?

Red Comet Manufacturing changed the liquid in their fire grenades from carbon tetrachloride to something they referred to as CM-7 in 1955. Is CM-7 the same thing as azeotropic dichloromethane? If not,...
6
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1answer
2k views

Origin of “ortho”, “meta”, “para”

Definition The ortho position refers to the two adjacent positions on a benzene ring. The meta position refers to the positions separated by one carbon atom on a benzene ring. The para position ...