Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

The structure of naphthalene: 1890-1925, and a modern twist.

Saturday, July 18th, 2015
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This is a little historical essay into the electronic structure of naphthalene, presented as key dates (and also collects comments made which were appended to other posts).

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R-X≡X-R: G. N. Lewis’ 100 year old idea.

Friday, May 22nd, 2015
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As I have noted elsewhere, Gilbert N. Lewis wrote a famous paper entitled “the atom and the molecule“, the centenary of which is coming up.[1] In a short and rarely commented upon remark, he speculates about the shared electron pair structure of acetylene,  R-X≡X-R (R=H, X=C). It could, he suggests, take up three forms. H-C:::C-H and two more which I show as he drew them. The first of these would now be called a bis-carbene and the second a biradical.

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References

  1. G.N. Lewis, "THE ATOM AND THE MOLECULE.", J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 38, pp. 762-785, 1916. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja02261a002

Fine-tuning a (hydrogen) bond into symmetry.

Friday, January 23rd, 2015
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Sometimes you come across a bond in chemistry that just shouts at you. This happened to me in 1989[1] with the molecule shown below. Here is its story and, 26 years later, how I responded.

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References

  1. P. Camilleri, C.A. Marby, B. Odell, H.S. Rzepa, R.N. Sheppard, J.J.P. Stewart, and D.J. Williams, "X-Ray crystallographic and NMR evidence for a uniquely strong OH ? N hydrogen bond in the solid state and solution", Journal of the Chemical Society, Chemical Communications, pp. 1722, 1989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C39890001722

Chemistry in the early 1960s: a reminiscence.

Monday, December 22nd, 2014
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I started chemistry with a boxed set in 1962. In those days they contained serious amounts of chemicals, but I very soon ran out of most of them. Two discoveries turned what might have been a typical discarded christmas present into a lifelong career and hobby.

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Blasts from the past. A personal Web presence: 1993-1996.

Saturday, November 1st, 2014
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Egon Willighagen recently gave a presentation at the RSC entitled “The Web – what is the issue” where he laments how little uptake of web technologies as a “channel for communication of scientific knowledge and data” there is in chemistry after twenty years or more. It caused me to ponder what we were doing with the web twenty years ago. Our HTTP server started in August 1993, and to my knowledge very little content there has been deleted (it’s mostly now just hidden). So here are some ancient pages which whilst certainly not examples of how it should be done nowadays, give an interesting historical perspective. In truth, there is not much stuff that is older out there!

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Kekulé’s vibration: A modern example of its use.

Friday, June 6th, 2014
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Following the discussion here of Kekulé’s suggestion of what we now call a vibrational mode (and which in fact now bears his name), I thought I might apply the concept to a recent molecule known as [2.2]paracyclophane. The idea was sparked by Steve Bachrach’s latest post, where the “zero-point” structure of the molecule has recently been clarified as having D2 symmetry.[1]

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References

  1. H. Wolf, D. Leusser, . Mads R. V. Jørgensen, R. Herbst-Irmer, Y. Chen, E. Scheidt, W. Scherer, B.B. Iversen, and D. Stalke, "Phase Transition of [2,2]-Paracyclophane - An End to an Apparently Endless Story", Chemistry - A European Journal, vol. 20, pp. 7048-7053, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/chem.201304972

Benzene: an oscillation or a vibration?

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
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In the preceding post, a nice discussion broke out about Kekulé’s 1872 model for benzene.[1] This model has become known as the oscillation hypothesis between two extreme forms of benzene (below). The discussion centered around the semantics of the term oscillation compared to vibration (a synonym or not?) and the timescale implied by each word. The original article is in german, but more significantly, obtainable only with difficulty. Thus I cannot access[1] the article directly since my university does not have the appropriate “back-number” subscription. So it was with delight that I tracked down an English translation in a journal that I could easily access.[2] Here I discuss what I found (on pages 614-615, the translation does not have its own DOI).

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References

  1. A. Kekulé, "Ueber einige Condensationsproducte des Aldehyds", Annalen der Chemie und Pharmacie, vol. 162, pp. 77-124, 1872. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jlac.18721620110
  2. "Organic chemistry", J. Chem. Soc., vol. 25, pp. 605, 1872. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/JS8722500605

Benzene. As you have never seen it represented before!

Sunday, May 18th, 2014
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Continuing my european visits, here are two photos from Bonn. First, a word about how the representation of benzene evolved, attributed to Kekulé.

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An original chemistry lab from the early 19th century.

Sunday, May 18th, 2014
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Not a computer in sight! I refer to a chemistry lab from the 1800s I was recently taken to, where famous french chemists such as Joseph Gay-Lussac, Michel Chevreul and Edmond Fremy were professors. Although not used for chemistry any more, it is an incredible treasure trove of objects. Here are photos of some.

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