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Mendeleev and the rare-earth crisis

Thyssen, Pieter and Binnemans, Koen (2014) Mendeleev and the rare-earth crisis. [Preprint]

Thyssen_&_Binnemans_(2013b).pdf - Accepted Version

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Since its inception in 1869, the periodic system — icon of modern chemistry — has suffered from the problematic accommodation of the rare-earth elements. The substance of this paper intends to retrace Mendeleev’s shifting attitudes with regard to the rare-earth crisis during the period 1869–1871. Based on a detailed examination of Mendeleev's research papers from that period, it will be argued that the rare-earth crisis played a key role in inducing a number of important changes in Mendeleev’s philosophical viewpoints with regard to the epistemological concept of a chemical element and the nature of elementary groups. Many of Mendeleev's most cherished beliefs got endangered by the nature of these elements. Their mystifying properties forced him to revise his ideas about primary and secondary groups, the elements as basic and simple substances, and the use of short and long form tables. They made him question the validity and universality of the periodic law, and led him into hypothesizing about the internal structure of matter and constitution of atoms.

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Item Type: Preprint
Additional Information: Forthcoming in Philosophy of Chemistry: Synthesis of a New Discipline, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Publisher: Springer-Verlag, Editors: Lee McIntyre, Eric Scerri
Keywords: History of chemistry, philosophy of chemistry, Mendeleev, periodic table, periodic system, periodic law, rare-earth crisis, rare-earth elements, epistemological concept of a chemical element, primary group, secondary group, short form tables, long form table, basic substance, simple substance
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Depositing User: Dr. Pieter Thyssen
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2014 10:22
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2014 10:22
Item ID: 10718
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Date: 2014

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