Chapter

Dimensional Molecules

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226723358.003.0008
Dimensional Molecules

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Every perceptive atomist recognizes the truism that atoms exist in a three-dimensional space. This chapter traces the evolution of certain theories from John Dalton to Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff that eventually constituted a new field called “stereochemistry,” or the chemistry of three-dimensional molecules. It first looks at how Dalton developed his chemical theory and then turns to Van't Hoff's theory in which he offered an explanation for many hitherto mysterious cases of “absolute isomerism,” including that of the two acids from wine tartar and the two lactic acids. The chapter also examines August Kekulé's generalization of his phenakistoscopic theory of the benzene ring before concluding with an analysis of the works of physicists and the incipient kinetic theory of gases.

Keywords: John Dalton; van't Hoff; stereochemistry; three-dimensional molecules; chemical theory; absolute isomerism; August Kekulé; phenakistoscopic theory; benzene ring; kinetic theory

Chapter.  13416 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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