Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category
In Jingdezhen an Imperial Kiln was built in 1369 to produce porcelain that was “white as jade, thin as paper, bright as a mirror and tuneful as a bell”. It’s the colours of the glazes that caught my eye, achieved by a combination of oxidative and reductive firing in the kiln, coupled with exquisite control of the temperature.
This post is prompted by the appearance of a retrospective special issue of C&E news, with what appears to be its very own Website: internet.cenmag.org. It contains articles and interviews with many interesting people, along with several variations on the historical (albeit rather USA-centric) perspectives and a time-line covers many of the key innovations (again, from a USA-perspective). Some subjects are covered in greater depth, including computational chemistry. The periodic table too gets coverage, but surprisingly that is not of Mark Winter’s WebElements, which carries the impressive 1993-2015 continuous timeline (hence 22 in the title!).
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. 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.
- 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
Sometimes you come across a bond in chemistry that just shouts at you. This happened to me in 1989 with the molecule shown below. Here is its story and, 26 years later, how I responded.
- 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
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!
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.
- 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
In the preceding post, a nice discussion broke out about Kekulé’s 1872 model for benzene. 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 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. Here I discuss what I found (on pages 614-615, the translation does not have its own DOI).