By Patrick Coffey
In Cathedrals of Science, Patrick Coffey describes how chemistry bought its smooth footing-how 13 wonderful males and one lady struggled with the legislation of the universe and with one another. They desired to detect how the realm labored, yet additionally they sought after credits for making these discoveries, and their personalities frequently affected how that credits was once assigned. Gilbert Lewis, for instance, can be reclusive and green with envy, and his enmity with Walther Nernst could have fee him the Nobel Prize; Irving Langmuir, gregarious and captivating, "rediscovered" Lewis's thought of the chemical bond and got a lot of the credits for it. Langmuir's character smoothed his route to the Nobel Prize over Lewis.
Coffey bargains with ethical and societal concerns besides. those similar scientists have been the 1st to be noticeable through their international locations as army resources. Fritz Haber, dubbed the "father of chemical warfare," pioneered using poison gasoline in international warfare I-vividly described-and Glenn Seaborg and Harold Urey have been leaders in international battle II's big apple venture; Urey and Linus Pauling labored for nuclear disarmament after the battle. technology used to be now not consistently reasonable, and lots of have been excluded. The Nazis driven Jewish scientists like Haber from their posts within the Thirties. Anti-Semitism was once additionally a strength in American chemistry, and few ladies have been allowed in; Pauling, for instance, used his impression to chop off the investment and block the courses of his rival, Dorothy Wrinch.
Cathedrals of Science paints a colourful portrait of the development of contemporary chemistry from the overdue nineteenth to the mid-20th century.
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Extra info for Cathedrals of Science: The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry
In 1874, two chemists, Jacobus van’t Hoff and Joseph Le Bel, violated the prohibition against assigning atoms positions in space, taking two-dimensional molecular structures and moving them into three dimensions. Van’t Hoff and Le Bel separately suggested that a carbon atom, with connections to four different atoms, might exist in different leftand right-handed tetrahedral forms—pyramids—that were mirror images of each other. The two molecules in fig. 1-5, for example, have the same connectivity to other atoms but cannot be superimposed upon each other—they are like left- and right-handed gloves.
39 Nernst, once established in Göttingen, married in 1892. Emma Lohmeyer’s father was a professor of surgery at the university and a widower for whom Emma had kept house since she had reached age sixteen. She was twenty-one at the time of their marriage, and Nernst was twenty-eight. By all accounts, he was devoted to her and she to him, and they had two boys and three girls over the next twelve years. Despite Nernst’s reputation for arrogance in the lecture hall and for abusing his staff and students, he was known for welcoming women scientists and students,40 which was not common at the time.
About 1900, the friendship between Arrhenius and Nernst ended in bitterness. When the two met in Stockholm in the summer of 1896, Arrhenius said it was “like the good old days,” but that he had some difficulty in understanding Nernst’s latest work on the ionic theory. When Nernst returned in 1897, he brought one of his new lamps with him to show Arrhenius. When the lamp blew all the fuses in the hotel where they were staying, Arrhenius laughed a little too hard and was not properly appreciative when the lamp finally worked.
Cathedrals of Science: The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry by Patrick Coffey