Eric Scerri - The Periodic Table, Its Story and Its Significance

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  Publication Details (including relevant citation   information):

  Oxford University Press, 2007


  The periodic table is one of the most potent icons in science. It   lies  at the core of chemistry and embodies the most   fundamental principles of  the field. The one definitive   text on the development of the periodic  table by van   Spronsen (1969), has been out of print for a considerable    time.  The present book provides a successor to van   Spronsen, but goes  further in giving an evaluation of the   extent to which modern physics  has, or has not, explained   the periodic system. The book is written in a  lively style   to appeal to experts and interested lay-persons   alike.   The Periodic Table begins with an overview of   the importance of the  periodic table and of the elements   and it examines the manner in which  the term 'element' has   been interpreted by chemists and philosophers.  The book   then turns to a systematic account of the early   developments  that led to the  classification of the   elements including the work of  Lavoisier, Boyle and Dalton   and Cannizzaro. The precursors to the  periodic system, like   Dvbereiner and Gmelin, are discussed. In chapter 3  the   discovery of the periodic system by six independent scientists   is  examined in detail.   Two chapters are devoted   to the discoveries of  Mendeleev, the leading discoverer,   including his predictions of new  elements and his   accommodation of already existing elements. Chapters 6  and   7 consider the impact of physics including the discoveries   of  radioactivity and isotopy and successive  theories   of the electron  including Bohr's quantum theoretical   approach. Chapter 8 discusses the  response to the new   physical theories by chemists such as Lewis and Bury  who   were able to draw on detailed chemical knowledge to correct some   of  the early electronic configurations published by Bohr   and  others.   Chapter 9 provides a critical   analysis of the extent to which modern  quantum mechanics   is, or is not, able to explain the periodic system  from   first principles. Finally, chapter 10 considers the way that   the  elements evolved following the Big Bang and in the   interior of stars.  The book closes with  an   examination of further chemical aspects  including lesser   known trends within the periodic system such as the    knight's move relationship and secondary periodicity, as well   at  attempts to explain such trends.

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