The Heuristics of Molecular Representation

in Image and Reality

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780226723327
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226723358 | DOI:
The Heuristics of Molecular Representation

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This chapter focuses on four scientists who developed various representations of the molecule—Archibald Scott Couper, Joseph Loschmidt, Aleksandr Mikhailovich Butlerov, and Alexander Crum Brown—the first of whom is known for proposing the two pillars of structure theory: the tetravalence and the self-linking ability of carbon atoms. In December 1861, Loschmidt published a 47-page brochure in which he discussed the theory of atomicity of elements and portrayed hundreds of graphic molecular formulas. In 1863, Butlerov published a paper making masterly use of structural theory to provide a better understanding of many of the most troubling isomerisms. Crum Brown proposed how best to visualize and iconographically represent the “theory of atomicity of the elements,” and the character as well as the positive heurism of his formulas are demonstrated by the way he used them. He also collaborated with Edward Frankland to develop graphic formulas that would soon replace other forms of molecular representations.

Keywords: Archibald Scott Couper; Joseph Loschmidt; Aleksandr Mikhailovich Butlerov; Alexander Crum Brown; structure theory; tetravalence; molecular formulas; atoms; theory of atomicity; heurism

Chapter.  16616 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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