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The History of Chemistry - Paper Topic

  1. Jan 21, 2004 #1
    Im taking a class on "The History of Chemistry" and I have to write one big 'ol paper.

    I want to do a topic that is interesting, somewhat obscure, under rated, yet very important.

    Anybody have any ideas?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2004 #2
    I forget the guy who did this, but I know he was french, at least I think he was. Anyway he's the guy who came up with mathemtical formulas uniting waves and mass. He thought that all things with mass have wave-like properties, like something with little mass (electron) would correspond to...anyway, i got my book. the guy's name is de brouglie and his equation is

    wavelength = h/(mu)
    h= planck's constant

    This idea got me thinking that everything in this world has a corresponding wavelength. I also got to thinking that maybe this wavelength is our soul eg. when we die we propogate through space on whatever destination as our wavelength. The more massive an object the shorter its corresponding wavelength will be, so since our eyes are only able to percieve a small part of electromagnetic spectrum we would be unable to see a humans corresponding wavelength. I thought this guy was pretty cool. Supposedly he derived this equation and possibly others at some cafe which he had wrote down on a napkin. THat's what my teacher told me, or maybe it was pauling who did that..I don't know, that teacher talked a lot.

    Planck was also a cool guy, I mean that damned number of his (planck's constant) is applicable in a lot of situations, many that seem unrelated, so I hear. He came up with the idea of energy being distributed in packets (quanta) and that was very erotic.
    hope I helped.

    And I just noticed you were asking for a topic, not a historical figure. Well ****.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2004
  4. Jan 21, 2004 #3


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  5. Jan 21, 2004 #4
    Two possible topics of recent interest:

    1.) History of bond-stretch isomerism. Early theoretical predictions in the 1970s, a rather thorough experimental reaccessment in the early 1990s which undercut the experimental evidence, and now the general feeling is that if they exist at all, they are exceptionally elusive and probably quite hard to experimentally find.

    2.) Electron transfer in biochemistry, and the debate between the "pathway" model (e.g. Onuchic, Beratan, Gray, Hoffman) and the "cofactor distance" model (Dutton).
  6. Jan 21, 2004 #5


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    You might want to start off trying to find interesting personalities...these usually yield the most interesting reports as well as a significant, and possibly obscure discoveries.

    You might want research Josiah Willard Gibbs...still underrated as of today. Unless you take chemistry (free energy), you probably would not recognize his name. He was a very modest scientist, he published his findings in obscure journals and thus it was not noticed for a while, one of his admirers was Maxwell.

    Van't Hoff. Recieved early criticisms of his work by prominent scientists on his ideas, yet one of these ideas won a nobel prize.

    There is another famous chemist however I am not able to think of his name at the moment and am a bit busy for internet research. He made a tremendous contribution to Flourine chemistry, and had quite a personality.
  7. Jan 23, 2004 #6
    How about history of gunpowder?
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