Posts Tagged ‘Historical’

Computers 1967-2013: a personal perspective. Part 5. Network bandwidth.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

In a time of change, we often do not notice that Δ = ∫δ. Here I am thinking of network bandwidth, and my personal experience of it over a 46 year period.


Another Woodward pericyclic example dissected: all is not what it seems.

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Here is another example gleaned from that Woodward essay of 1967 (Chem. Soc. Special Publications (Aromaticity), 1967, 21, 217-249), where all might not be what it seems.


Woodward’s symmetry considerations applied to electrocyclic reactions.

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Sometimes the originators of seminal theories in chemistry write a personal and anecdotal account of their work. Niels Bohr[cite]10.1007/BF01326955[/cite] was one such and four decades later Robert Woodward wrote “The conservation of orbital symmetry” (Chem. Soc. Special Publications (Aromaticity), 1967, 21, 217-249; it is not online and so no doi can be given). Much interesting chemistry is described there, but (like Bohr in his article), Woodward lists no citations at the end, merely giving attributions by name. Thus the following chemistry (p 236 of this article) is attributed to a Professor Fonken, and goes as follows (excluding the structure in red):


Au and Pt π-complexes of cyclobutadiene.

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

In the preceding post, I introduced Dewar’s π-complex theory for alkene-metal compounds, outlining the molecular orbital analysis he presented, in which the filled π-MO of the alkene donates into a Ag+ empty metal orbital and back-donation occurs from a filled metal orbital into the alkene π* MO. Here I play a little “what if” game with this scenario to see what one can learn from doing so.


The π-complex theory of metal-alkene compounds.

Monday, May 13th, 2013

The period 1951–1954 was a golden one for structural chemistry; proteins, DNA, Ferrocene (1952) and the one I discuss here, a bonding model for Zeise’s salt (3).


A (very) short history of shared-electron bonds.

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

The concept of a shared electron bond and its property of an order is almost 100 years old in modern form, when G. N. Lewis suggested a model for single and double bonds that involved sharing either 2 or 4 electrons between a pair of atoms[cite]10.1021/ja02261a002[/cite]. We tend to think of such (even electron) bonds in terms of their formal bond order (an integer), recognising that the actual bond order (however defined) may not fulfil this value. I thought I would very (very) briefly review the history of such bonds.


William Henry Perkin: The site of the factory and the grave.

Monday, March 11th, 2013

William Henry Perkin is a local chemical hero of mine. The factory where he founded the British (nay, the World) fine organic chemicals industry is in Greenford, just up the road from where we live. The factory used to be close to the Black Horse pub (see below) on the banks of the grand union canal. It is now commemorated merely by a blue plaque placed on the wall of the modern joinery building occupying the location (circled in red on the photo).


Why is the carbonyl IR stretch in an ester higher than in a ketone?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Infra-red spectroscopy of molecules was introduced 110 years ago by Coblentz[cite]10.1103/PhysRevSeriesI.20.273[/cite] as the first functional group spectroscopic method (” The structure of the compound has a great influence on the absorption spectra. In many cases it seems as though certain bonds are due to certain groups.“). It hangs on in laboratories to this day as a rapid and occasionally valuable diagnostic tool, taking just minutes to measure. Its modern utility rests on detecting common functional groups, mostly based around identifying the nature of double or triple bonds, and to a lesser extent in differentiating between different kinds of C-H stretches[cite]10.1002/chem.201200547[/cite] (and of course OH and NH). One common use is to identify the environment of carbonyl groups, C=O. These tend to come in the form of aldehydes and ketones, esters, amides, acyl halides, anhydrides and carbonyls which are part of small rings. The analysis is performed by assigning the value of the C=O stretching wavenumber to a particular range characteristic of each type of compound. Thus ketones are said to inhabit the range of ~1715-1740 cm-1 and simple esters come at ~1740-1760 cm-1, some 20-30 cm-1 higher. Here I try to analyse how this difference arises.


Why is N,O-diphenyl hydroxylamine (PhNHOPh) unknown?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

If you search e.g. Scifinder for N,O-diphenyl hydroxylamine (RN 24928-98-1) there is just one literature citation, to a 1962 patent. Nothing else; not even a calculation (an increasing proportion of the molecules reported in Chemical Abstracts have now only ever been subjected to calculation, not synthesis). A search of Reaxys also offers only one hit[cite]10.1016/S0040-4039(01)90757-9[/cite] reporting one unsuccessful attempt in 1963 to prepare this compound. Again, nothing else. Yet show this structure to most organic chemists, and I venture to suggest few would immediately predict this (unless they are experts on benzidine rearrangements).