The Chemical Element: A Historical Perspective

Front Cover
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006 - Science - 183 pages

One of the most familiar features of any high-school chemistry lab is the Periodic Table of Elements. Elegant, informative, useful to any student in the lab - the Periodic Table neatly summarizes our scientific knowledge of the chemical elements from hydrogen to uranium and beyond - atomic number, atomic weight, isotopes, and more. But how did scientists discover all of these features of the elements? How did the Periodic Table come to be? And, even more basically, how did the concept of the chemical element come to dominate how scientists understand chemistry? This book shows readers the answers to these and other questions regarding the scientific understanding of matter.

The Chemical Element, a volume in the Greenwood Guides to Great Ideas in Science, traces the history of this tremendously powerful concept from the ancient philosophers to the present day. The volume covers: the idea of the elements held by Aristotle and the other ancient Greek philosophers; how Chinese, Arabic and other ancient civilizations thought about the elements; Mendeleyev and the creation of the Periodic Table of Elements, the predictive power of which helped in the discovery of dozens of new elements; and the discovery of the artificial elements that are heavier than uranium

Jargon and mathematics is kept to a minimum, and the volumes includes a timeline, a glossary, and a bibliography, making The Chemical Element an ideal resource for students researching chemistry and the history and nature of the scientific understanding of the world around us.

 

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Contents

2 Greek Matter Theory from Thales to Aristotle
9
Figure 2 Geometric solids
11
Figure 3 Zenos paradox
12
Figure 4 Aristotles model of the Universe
15
3 Matter Theory in China the Middle East and India
19
Figure 6 Yin Yang symbol
21
4 Alchemy and the Concept of Elements
31
Figure 7 Alchemical symbols for materials and planets
36
Figure 15 Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsens spectrocope from Chemical analysis by Observation of Spectra 1860
76
Figure 16 Mendeleevs periodic table from Annalender Chemie 1872
81
9 The Atomic Elements
87
Figure 17 Ceria and yttria isolation
89
Figure 18 Ultramicroscope
94
Figure 19 Fission
101
10 The Elements beyond 92
105
Figure 20 Fusion
107

Figure 8 The Alchemist by David Teniers the Younger c 1645
40
5 Corpuscles and Atoms
45
Figure 9 Robert Boyles air pump
53
Figure 10 Joseph Priestleys pneumatic trough used for collecting gases
55
6 Bringing Order to Chaos
57
Figure 11 Lavoisiers constant pressure gas pump and reaction vessels
59
Figure 12 The calorimeter
62
Figure 13 Lavoisiers table of simple substances from Elements of Chemistry 1790
63
7 Making Elements Elemental
67
Figure 14 Daltons elements and common atoms From John Dalton New System of Chemical Philosophy 1808
69
The Periodic Table
73
Conclusion
111
The Periodic Table
113
History of the Elements
115
The Elements by Alphabetical Order
157
The Elements by Date of Discovery
159
Glossary
161
Annotated Bibliography
167
Bibliography
171
Index
175
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

ANDREW EDE is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta. His most recent book is A History of Science in Society with Lesley Cormack.

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