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Offers a comprehensive overview of the periodic table, exploring the importance of both the periodic table and the elements themselves as well as how the elements have been interpreted by chemists and philosophers throughout history.
The periodic table is one of the most potent icons in science. It lies at the core of chemistry and embodies the most fundamental principles of the field. The one definitive text on the development of the periodic table by van Spronsen (1969), has been out of print for a considerable time. The present book provides a successor to van Spronsen, but goes further in giving an evaluation of the extent to which modern physics has, or has not, explained the periodic system. The book is written in a lively style to appeal to experts and interested lay-persons alike. The Periodic Table begins with an overview of the importance of the periodic table and of the elements and it examines the manner in which the term 'element' has been interpreted by chemists and philosophers. The book then turns to a systematic account of the early developments that led to the classification of the elements including the work of Lavoisier, Boyle and Dalton and Cannizzaro. The precursors to the periodic system, like D?bereiner and Gmelin, are discussed. In chapter 3 the discovery of the periodic system by six independent scientists is examined in detail. Two chapters are devoted to the discoveries of Mendeleev, the leading discoverer, including his predictions of new elements and his accommodation of already existing elements. Chapters 6 and 7 consider the impact of physics including the discoveries of radioactivity and isotopy and successive theories of the electron including Bohr's quantum theoretical approach. Chapter 8 discusses the response to the new physical theories by chemists such as Lewis and Bury who were able to draw on detailed chemical knowledge to correct some of the early electronic configurations published by Bohr and others. Chapter 9 provides a critical analysis of the extent to which modern quantum mechanics is, or is not, able to explain the periodic system from first principles. Finally, chapter 10 considers the way that the elements evolved following the Big Bang and in the interior of stars. The book closes with an examination of further chemical aspects including lesser known trends within the periodic system such as the knight's move relationship and secondary periodicity, as well at attempts to explain such trends.
Here, Eric Scerri looks at the trends in properties of elements that led to the construction of the periodic table, and how the deeper meaning of its structure gradually became apparent with the development of atomic theory and quantum mechanics, so that, as Scerri puts it, one science, physics, arguably came to colonize another, chemistry, although such a view is resisted by chemists. Scerri shows that quantum mechanics is absolutely central to chemistry, as it underlies the behaviour of all of the elements and their compounds, and therefore underpins the structure of the periodic table. Concluding with an overview of the huge variety of periodic tables that have been proposed in the print media and on the Internet, he explores the debated question of whether there is an optimal periodic table and what form it might take. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
In A Tale of Seven Elements, Eric Scerri presents the fascinating history of those seven elements discovered to be mysteriously "missing" from the periodic table in 1913.
This book represents a collection of papers from one of the founders of the new Philosophy of Chemistry. It is only the second single-author collection of papers on the Philosophy of Chemistry. The author is the editor-in-chief of Foundations of Chemistry, the leading journal in the field. He has recently gained worldwide success with his book on the periodic table of the elements titled The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance. This volume provides an in-depth examination of his more philosophical and historical work in this area and further afield. Contents:Philosophy of Chemistry and the Question of Reduction:The Case for Philosophy of ChemistryPrediction of the Nature of Hafnium from Chemistry, Bohr's Theory and Quantum TheoryHas Chemistry Been at Least Approximately Reduced to Quantum Mechanics?Reduction and Emergence in ChemistryThe Periodic Table, Electronic Configurations and the Nature of the Elements:Has the Periodic Table Been Successfully Axiomatized?The Periodic Table: The Ultimate Paper Tool in Chemistry Naive Realism, Reduction and the ‘Intermediate Position’How Ab Inito is Ab Initio Quantum Chemistry? Foundations of ChemistrySome Aspects of the Metaphysics of Chemistry and the Nature of the ElementsRealism and Anti-Realism, and Educational Issues in Philosophy of Chemistry:Constructivism, Relativism and ChemistryThe Recently Claimed Observation of Atomic Orbitals and Some Related Philosophical IssuesNormative and Descriptive Philosophy of Science and the Role of Chemistry Readership: Philosophers, historians and students of science, science educators, physicists and chemists. Keywords:Philosophy of Science;Philosophy of Chemistry;Chemistry;Atomic Physics;Reductionism;History of Science;History of ChemistryReviews: “This is an outstanding and much anticipated volume, which collects in one place a number of the seminal papers written by one of the pioneers in the philosophy of chemistry … As a companion to Scerri's highly acclaimed book The Periodic Table, Its Story and Its Significance, this volume succeeds in bringing his important work on the many facets of the reductionism debate to the attention of a new group of readers, who need to appreciate the prominent role that this debate has played from the outset in all areas of the philosophy of chemistry, and the role that Scerri himself has played in this debate … The volume itself is handsomely produced and the selections are well chosen … Every scholar in the philosophy of chemistry will want to have this volume close, to dip into, to learn about the latest thinking of one of the leading scholars in the field, and to have as a handy collection of his earlier papers.” Foundations of Chemistry “Eric Scerri brings sound chemical, historical, and philosophic scholarship to bear on the many aspects of chemical teaching that concern long-standing philosophical puzzles. Such work illuminates chemical education in interesting and unexpected ways, and also may well contribute to resolving problems in academic philosophy that have resisted other approaches.” Science & Education “General readers (or chemists, science educators, or philosophers) seeking an overview of this area could find no more effective, concise, convenient entry into this important and actively developing field than the one that this volume provides.” Joseph E Earley Professor Emeritus Georgetown University, USA “…A collection of papers from one of the founders of the new philosophy of chemistry. It is only the second single–author collection of papers on the philosophy of chemistry.” Chemical & Engineering News “This volume is an important addition to the rapidly growing body of literature in the philosophy of chemistry. In its insight, liveliness, and broad coverage, it will be a rare treat for philosophers, historians, scientists and science educators alike.” AMBIX
In his latest book, Eric Scerri presents a completely original account of the nature of scientific progress. It consists of a holistic and unified approach in which science is seen as a living and evolving single organism. Instead of scientific revolutions featuring exceptionally gifted individuals, Scerri argues that the "little people" contribute as much as the "heroes" of science. To do this he examines seven case studies of virtually unknown chemists and physicists in the early 20th century quest to discover the structure of the atom. They include the amateur scientist Anton van den Broek who pioneered the notion of atomic number as well as Edmund Stoner a then physics graduate student who provided the seed for Pauli's Exclusion Principle. Another case is the physicist John Nicholson who is virtually unknown and yet was the first to propose the notion of quantization of angular momentum that was soon put to good use by Niels Bohr. Instead of focusing on the logic and rationality of science, Scerri elevates the role of trial and error and multiple discovery and moves beyond the notion of scientific developments being right or wrong. While criticizing Thomas Kuhn's notion of scientific revolutions he agrees with Kuhn that science is not drawn towards an external truth but is rather driven from within. The book will enliven the long-standing debate on the nature of science, which has increasingly shied away from the big question of "what is science?"
The story of Dmitrii Mendeleev is told in full for the first time, illuminating the role of this remarkable man of science in bringing the Russian Empire out of the dark ages during the nineteenth century, thus paving the way for the rationalism of the Soviet Union. 25,000 first printing.

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