Atoms and Elements: A Study of Theories of Matter in England in the Nineteenth Century, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Atoms and Elements

A Study of Theories of Matter in England in the Nineteenth Century, 1st Edition

By David M. Knight


174 pages

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First published in 1967. The impression is sometimes given that the Atomic Theory was revived in the early years of the nineteenth century by John Dalton, and that continuously from then on it has played a vital role in chemistry. The aim of this study is to revise this over-simplified picture. Atomic explanations seemed to chemists to go beyond the facts, to fail to lend themselves to mathematical expression, and to deny the ultimate simplicity and unity of all matter. Most, therefore, rejected them.

Meanwhile, physicists were developing a whole range of atomic theories to explain the physical properties of bodies in terms of very simple atoms or particles.

During the last thirty years of the century the position changed, as physicists and chemists came to agree on a common atomic theory. But the last prominent opponents of atomism were not converted until the early years of the twentieth century, by which time studies of radioactivity had made it clear that the billiard-ball Daltonian atom must, in any case, be abandoned.

Table of Contents

Foreword; 1. The Legacy of the Past 2. Mr Dalton and His Critics 3. Boscovicheans and Sceptics 4. Some Theories of Matter 5. Chemical Molecular Theories 6. The Debates 7. The End of the Affair; References and Bibliography; Index

About the Series

Routledge Library Editions: Science and Technology in the Nineteenth Century

This set of volumes, originally published between 1900 and 1994, amalgamates research on Science and Technology in the Nineteenth Century, including studies on notable figures such as Gregor Johann Mendel, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Sir Humphry Davy. This collection of books from some of the leading scholars in the field provides a comprehensive overview of the subject, how it has evolved over time, which will be of particular interest to students of history and the sciences.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General