History Of Chemistry Essay Topic

Selected Classic Papers

from the

History of Chemistry

The Electron and Electronic Structure of Atoms

  • Johann Balmer: from 1885 paper noting numerical regularities in wavelength of lines of the hydrogen spectrum. (View page images of the original paper (in German) or a biographical sketch of Balmer.)
  • Niels Bohr: 1913 excerpt of address on application of Planck's quantum hypothesis to the spectrum of hydrogen. (View page images of the entire essay (English translation) or a biographical sketch of Bohr.)
  • Niels Bohr: his model of the atom, 1913. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
  • Niels Bohr: 1921 excerpt on the "correspondence principle" of quantum theory.
  • Niels Bohr: 1921 paper on electron configurations and atomic structure. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
  • Frederick S. Brackett: 1922 paper listing new members of the Paschen series of hydrogen spectral lines along with members of a new series (now known as the Brackett series) characterized by Bohr's formulas for hydrogen spectra. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
  • Charles R. Bury: 1921 paper on the arrangement of electrons in atoms; gives electron configurations for most of the periodic table. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
  • Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer: 1927 paper on the diffraction of electrons. This paper is at Nature's physics portal. (Link to a biographical sketch of Davisson and one of Germer.)
  • John Edward Lennard-Jones: 1929 paper on molecular orbital descriptions of diatomic molecules, including paramagnetism of oxygen. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (View biographical paragraph on Lennard-Jones.)
  • G. N. Lewis and Michael Kasha: 1944 paper on phosphorescence and triplet electronic states. This paper (pdf) is at the Turro group's History of Photochemistry page. (Link to a biographical sketch of Kasha.)
  • Robert Millikan: 1913 paper on the elementary electrical charge and Avogadro's constant (excerpt). This paper is at Google Books. See a biographical sketch of Millikan.
  • Hantaro Nagaoka (1904): excerpt from Saturnian model of atomic structure (i.e., ring of particles around a central force). This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of entire original. See a biographical information on Nagaoka.
  • Wolfgang Pauli: 1925 paper on the fourth quantum number. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. See a virtual exhibit on Pauli.
  • Jean Perrin (1895): collects cathode rays, obtaining a negative charge. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of original French and of contemporary English translation.
  • Max Planck (1920): excerpt on the quantum of action from Nobel Prize address. (Link to a biographical sketch.)
  • Edmund Clifton Stoner: 1924 paper on "The Distribution of Electrons among Atomic Levels". This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to biographical information on Stoner.
  • George Johnstone Stoney (1894): asserts priority for suggesting that electric charge comes in discrete packages, and proposes the term "electron" for the "atom of electricity". This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of original. See biographical information on Stoney.
  • J. J. Thomson: 1897 paper characterizing cathode rays, now known as electrons. Some of Thomson's contemporaries thought he must be kidding when he claimed that cathode rays were electrically charged particles with a mass-to-charge ratio 1000 times less than hydrogen ions. See a biographical sketch of Thomson, a photo of his apparatus, or more information on the discovery of the electron.
  • J. J. Thomson: 1899 paper further characterizing cathode ray corpuscles by identifying them with thermoelectric, photoelectric, and radioactivity phenomena and measuring their mass. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
  • J. J. Thomson: excerpt from "On the Structure of the Atom ..." (1904), elaborating the "plum pudding" model. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
  • J. J. Thomson: excerpt from "On the Number of Corpuscles [i.e., electrons] in an Atom" (1906). The number is of the same order as the atomic weight, not thousands of times that number. This paper is at the ChemTeam site.
  • J. J. Thomson: Nobel Prize in Physics Award Address, 1906, on the characterization of the electron.
  • J. J. Thomson: on the positive rays of electric discharge tubes (1913), recognizing them as atoms and molecules stripped of one or more electrons, describing essentially an early mass spectrometer, and giving evidence for a heavy isotope of neon.
  • Pieter Zeeman (1897): description of the magnetic splitting of spectral lines now named after him; includes measurement of the charge-to-mass ratio of what we now call the electron, independent of Thomson's cathode-ray research. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to a biographical sketch of Zeeman.)

Elements: nature, number, and discovery

  • Aristotle: On Generation and Corruption. This work is at the Internet Classics Archive at MIT. The first five parts of Book II in particular discuss elements, and in particular the system of four elements that predates Aristotle.
  • Robert Boyle: The Sceptical Chymist (1661), page images at University of Pennsylvania. Boyle does not know how many elements there are or what those elements may be; however, he knows that those who believe the elements to be earth, air, fire, and water or mercury, sulfur, and salt do so on an insufficient basis. See HTML excerpts at this site (Classic Chemistry) and annotations [pdf] here. (Link to the Robert Boyle Project.)
  • Pierre and Marie Curie: 1898 announcement of a new radioactive element, polonium.
  • Pierre and Marie Curie and G. Bémont: December 1898 announcement of a new strongly radioactive element, radium.
  • Humphry Davy: isolation of the alkali metals sodium and potassium (1808). This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of the original. See a biographical sketch of Davy.
  • Marie Curie: translation of 1903 doctoral thesis, Radio-Active Substances. This monograph is at Internet Archive (page images).
  • Humphry Davy: early paper on chlorine and its compounds (1811). This paper is at Google Books.
  • Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis Thénard (1809): attempts to decompose "oxygenated muriatic acid" (the gas which we know as chlorine) prove difficult; the authors consider the possibility that it is an element, but are not convinced. The paper contains some interesting photochemistry as well. View page images of original large paper or of section about chlorine (in French). See a biographical sketch of Gay-lussac or Thénard.
  • Antoine Lavoisier (1783): maybe not the first to recognize that water was a compound and not an element, but he certainly had a clearer command of the phenomenon than his English phlogistonist contemporaries, Cavendish and Watt. View page images of original (in French).
  • Antoine Lavoisier: Table of simple substances (elements) from Elements of Chemistry (1789); includes his criterion for considering a substance elementary. See page images at Google Books.
  • Antoine Lavoisier: Oeuvres, (Paris, 1862-1893, 6 vols.): searchable electronic edition at CNRS (French national center for scientific research)
  • Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran: 1877 excerpt on discovery of gallium. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of entire original (in French).
  • Pierre-Joseph Macquer: 1766 dictionary entry on principles discusses ultimate constituents of matter. View page images of complete original and a contemporary English translation.
  • Lars Nilson: two excerpts (1879, 1880) on the discovery of scandium. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of originals (in French) of 1879 and 1880 papers. See biographical sketch of Nilson.
  • Paracelsus: 16th century on alchemy and the metals. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to biographical information on Paracelsus.)
  • Joseph Priestley: a report describing the discovery of oxygen in terms which continue to embrace the phlogiston theory; it is refreshing in Priestley's frank admission of astonishment at the results he describes. View page images of original section, entire volume. See a biographical sketch of Priestley.
  • Joseph Priestley: 1789 paper skeptical of the idea that water is the exclusive result of burning hydrogen in oxygen. View page images of original.
  • Lord Rayleigh, Royal Institution Proceedings (1895). View page images of original. An informal lecture describing the discovery of argon by the author and Sir William Ramsay.
  • Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1774): excerpts from investigations of "manganese", describing the gas which we know as chlorine. (View a biographical sketch of Carl Wilhelm Scheele or a drawing of his laboratory.)
  • Carl Wilhelm Scheele: excerpts on gases from Chemical Treatise on Air and Fire (1777), including recognition that common air is not a single substance (##8-16) and preparation and properties of "fire-air" (oxygen, ##29-50).
  • James Watt (1784): "Thoughts on the Constituent Parts of Water" (excerpt). View page images of original published letter. See a biography of Watt by Andrew Carnegie.)
  • Clemens Winkler: two excerpts (1886) on the discovery of germanium. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of the second entire original paper (in German). See a biographical sketch of Winkler.

Environmental chemistry

  • Svante Arrhenius, Philosophical Magazine (1896) excerpt. Not a paper about acidity, electrolyte solutions, or the temperature dependence of rate constants, but rather about the greenhouse effect including an attempt to compute temperature effects in a world with twice as much carbon dioxide. (Link to a biographical sketch of Arrhenius or view page images of original.)
  • Sydney Chapman, excerpted from "A Theory of Upper-Atmospheric Ozone", by Sydney Chapman, Memoirs of the Royal Meteorological Society3 (26) 103-25 (1930). Copyright ©1930. Posted with the permission of the Royal Meteorological Society. This paper proposes a set of chemical reactions to account for equilibrium ozone abundances and their seasonal and spatial variation. (View biographical information on Chapman.)
  • Paul Crutzen, "The influence of nitrogen oxides on the atmospheric ozone content", by Paul J. Crutzen, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society96, 320-325 (1970). (Copyright ©1970. Posted with the permission of the author, the Royal Meteorological Society, and the Journal.) This paper proposes the major ozone-destruction mechanism in the natural stratosphere. Crutzen was one of three recipients of the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry. View his home page.
  • John Dalton. The author of chemistry's atomic theory studied the gases of the atmosphere first (read 1802). View page images of the original.
  • Michael Faraday, 1855 letter to The Times on the foul condition of the Thames. While not a formal scientific paper, this letter (at the ChemTeam site) shows Faraday's powers of observation and plain description turned to a topic which continues to engage scientists and policymakers.

Gases

  • Joseph Black (1756). Excerpt describing several reactions involving carbonates and their release of "fixed air" (carbon dioxide). (View page images of the full text or a biographical sketch.)
  • Robert Boyle on the relationship between pressure and volume of a gas (Boyle's law), 1662. This excerpt and a facsimile are in a discussion of Boyle's law at the ChemTeam site.
  • Henry Cavendish: determined that the "phlogisticated" part of the atmosphere (i.e., nitrogen) could be converted to niter, all except possibly a tiny fraction of less than 1% by volume (probably argon). View page images of original. See a biographical sketch of Cavendish.
  • John Dalton: on gases of the atmosphere, including their partial pressures (read 1802).
  • John Davy: 1812 paper describes preparation of a new gas, phosgene; describes the product of the reaction of phosgene with ammonia--apparently urea (although he does not identify it) several years before Wöhler. View page images of original.
  • Peter Debye: excerpt of 1920 paper explaining the origin of cohesive forces in a van der Waals gas. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. (Link to a biographical sketch of Debye.)
  • Michael Faraday (1823): on the liquefaction of chlorine. This paper is at the ChemTeam site. View page images of original.
  • Benjamin Franklin. This founding father was a scientist as well as a statesman. In this letter he describes the effects of marsh gas to Joseph Priestley. Link to more on Franklin.
  • Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac: 1802 excerpt reports that all gases and vapors expand the same amount with increased temperature. View page images of original (in French).
  • Jan Baptista van Helmont: three short excerpts from the border of alchemy and chemistry, including coining of the term gas and an experiment producing a tree from water. View page images of the original book (in Latin) . See biographical information on van Helmont.
  • Jacobus van't Hoff: osmosis and the analogy between solutions and gases (1887). This paper is at the Google books. View page images of original (in German).
  • Jan Ingenhousz, (1779). Excerpt describes the ability of plants to "improve" the air in a process which requires light. This intriguing description of photosynthesis didn't get everything right, however. View page images of entire book. See a biographical sketch of Ingenhousz or modern description of photosynthesis.
  • Antoine Lavoisier (1775-1777): Excerpts from three papers on properties of oxygen at the ChemTeam site. The first identifies oxygen as what combines with metals to make calces (and is available in full here); the second looks at respiration; the third examines burning of candles. View page images of originals 1, 2, and 3 (in French).
  • Edme Mariotte (c. 1620-1684) on the relationship between air pressure and volume. (Many Europeans know this relationship as Mariotte's law, as opposed to Boyle's law in most English-speaking countries). Link to biographical information on Mariotte.
  • John Mayow: convincing argument that the air contains at least two portions, one of which nurtures flame and enters the blood in respiration (1674). Link to biographical information on Mayow or read the entire Tractatus quinque medico-physici.
  • Dmitrii Mendeleev: An Attempt Towards A Chemical Conception Of The Ether, an early 20th-century speculation envisioning the ether as the lightest of the inert gases.
  • Joseph Priestley (1772): instructions and observations on making carbonated water. (Page images of this monograph are available at Google Books.)
  • Lord Rayleigh, Nature (1892). Interesting because of its frank admission of puzzlement and call for assistance in resolving anomalies which would eventually lead to the discovery of argon.
  • Carl Wilhelm Scheele: excerpts on gases from Chemical Treatise on Air and Fire (1777), including recognition that common air is not a single substance (##8-16) and preparation and properties of "fire-air" (oxygen, ##29-50).
  • Evangelista Torricelli (1644). Letter describing the barometer (includes an illustration). (Link to more information on Torricelli or view his picture.)

Kinetics and dynamics

Nomenclature


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The History of Chemistry Essay

1235 Words5 Pages

The History of Chemistry

Chemistry is the science of the composition and structure of materials and of the changes that materials undergo. It is also used in improving standards of living, making it possible for such substances as rubber, nylon, and plastics to be made from completely different materials. New materials and new properties of old materials are always being discovered. Some earlier products discovered from chemical reactions are ceramics, glass, and metals. Dyes and medicines were other early products obtained from natural substances. Some practical applications that chemistry is used for are to make stronger metals, improve soil, and the developments of live-saving drugs. Modern technology depends highly on these…show more content…

They did know that iron could be made from certain rock and that bronze was a mixture of copper and tin. From the beginning of the Christian Era to the 17th and 18th centuries was the period of chemistry known as alchemy. Alchemists believed that metals could be changed into gold with the help of a mystical stone which was never found. They did, however, discover many new elements and compounds. Paracelsus, a talented Swiss alchemist, decided that alchemy should be for helping to cure the sick instead of searching for gold. The main elements that he used were salt, sulfur, and mercury, all which are connected to "elixir." This period of practicing medicine was known as iatrochemistry, which is the study of medicine with chemistry applied. One of the first real scientific chemist was Robert Boyle. In 1661, he helped to find the Royal Society of England, a scientific society. For about two centuries after Boyle, scientists started making useful discoveries, even though, they were far from understanding the true nature of matter or knowing what happens in chemical reactions. One of the most confusing events of this time period was the theory of burning, or combustion, called the phlogiston theory. According to this theory, a yellowness or hardness was supposed to escape from substances during the burning process. By now, chemists were starting to

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