A Tale of Seven Elements

A Tale of Seven Elements

Book - 2013
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In 1913, English physicist Henry Moseley established an elegant method for "counting" the elements based on atomic number, ranging them from hydrogen (#1) to uranium (#92). It soon became clear, however, that seven elements were mysteriously missing from the line up - seven elements unknown toscience. In his well researched and engagingly narrative, Eric Scerri presents the intriguing stories of these seven elements - protactinium, hafnium, rhenium, technetium, francium, astatine and promethium. The book follows the historical order of discovery, roughly spanning the two world wars, beginningwith the isolation of protactinium in 1917 and ending with that of promethium in 1945. For each element, Scerri traces the research that preceded the discovery, the pivotal experiments, the personalities of the chemists involved, the chemical nature of the new element, and its applications inscience and technology. We learn for instance that alloys of hafnium- w hose name derives from the Latin name for Copenhagen (hafnia) - have some of the highest boiling points on record and are used for the nozzles in rocket thrusters such as the Apollo Lunar Modules. Scerri also tells the personal tales of researchersovercoming great obstacles. We see how Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn - the pair who later proposed the theory of atomic fission -were struggling to isolate element 91 when World War I intervened, Hahn was drafted into the German army's poison gas unit, and Meitner was forced to press on alone againstdaunting odds. The book concludes by examining how and where the twenty-five new elements have taken their places in the periodic table in the last half century. A Tale of Seven Elements paints a fascinating picture of chemical research - the wrong turns, missed opportunities, bitterly disputed claims, serendipitous findings, accusations of dishonesty - all leading finally to the thrill of discovery.
Published: Oxford [England] ;, New York, NY :, Oxford University Press,, [2013]
ISBN: 9780195391312
0195391314
Branch Call Number: 546 SCE
Characteristics: xxxiii, 270 pages :,illustrations ;,22 cm
Alternative Title: Tale of 7 elements

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