The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table

Its Story and Its Significance

Book - 2007
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Oxford University Press
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 Döbereiner 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.

Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2007
Description: xxii, 346 p. : ill. ; 25 cm
ISBN: 9780195305739
Branch Call Number: 546.8 Sce


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ser_library Feb 04, 2012

not for bus reading or when tired...

Nov 12, 2011

Scerri's book tells the fascinating story of how we came to identify the elements as the basic building blocks of our world. "The Periodic Table" is a very well-written book, and Scerri is clearly an expert in the topic, weaving together history, philosophy, chemistry and biography with ease.

I really enjoyed this book, and while some later sections can be demanding if you aren't a chemist, the pay-off is well worth it. It can lead you to see the world in a whole new way. The book is also a valuable case-study in the philosophy of science. It is a rare book that experts will find useful and informative while interested lay readers will find also enjoyable.

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