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Lead Kindly Light:Spectroscopy and the Periodic Table
Spectroscopy, in the visible as well as X-ray regions, played a significant role in putting the periodic table on a firm footing. This article provides a few glimpses of this aspect.
- Bunsen, R. and Roscoe, H. E., Poggendorff’s Ann. Chem. Phys., 1857, 100, 43. An interesting account of the story behind the creation of this burner is given in W. B. Jensen. J. Chem. Ed., 2005, 82, 518.
- It may be mentioned owing to its long half-life (~30 years), the radioactive isotope caesium-137 caused much concern during nuclear disasters like the one that occurred in Chernobyl in 1986.
- Apart from discovery of Caesium and Rubidium, he also found that addition of iron oxide hydrate to a solution having arsenic dissolved precipitates the poison, rendering it harmless. This serves as an antidote for arsenic poisoning even in modern times. As a token of appreciation of Robert Bunsen’s contributions, Google ran a doodle on his 200th birthday, 31 March 2011, in which the Burner found a prominent place.
- The electrical engineers know him better for his laws of circuit analysis. It is amazing that he came up with this quite profound analysis when, as a student, he was asked to give a seminar. In fact, his laws of thermochemistry are also well known.
- Kirchhoff coined the term black body to describe a hypothetical perfect radiator that absorbs the entire incident light and emits all of that light when maintained at a constant temperature.
- Rayleigh, Density of nitrogen. Nature, 1892, 46, 512.
- A detailed account of the life and works of Sir William Ramsay can be found in A. G. Davies, Science Progress, 2012, 95, 23; doi:10.3184/003685012X13307058213813.
- Williams, R., Lord Rayleigh and the Discovery of Argon: 13 August 1894; This Month in Physics History. APS News, 2013, 22(8).
- Lord Rayleigh and Ramsay, W., Argon, a new constituent of the atmosphere. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. London, 1895, 186, 187.
- Lockyer, J. N., The story of helium: chapter II. Nature, 1896, 53, 321; 342.
- Production of helium from monazite. J. Chem. Edu., 1930, 7, 1596; doi:org/10.1021/ed007p1596
- Biman Nath, The Story of Helium and the Birth of Astrophysics, Springer, 2013.
- The content in air of these elements are, Ar: 0.93%, He: 5 ppm, Ne: 18 ppm, Kr: 1 ppm, and Xe: 0.09 ppm.
- A well illustrated diagram of Moseley’s apparatus is given by Jim and Rhoda Morris in http://www.scitechantiques.com/Mosley_atomic_number/; also see Scerri, E., ‘Master of Missing Elements’ Am. Sci., 2014, 102, 358; doi:10.1511/2014.110.358; a documentary video ‘The Mystery of Matter’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWQZE0HPoAY.
- Moseley, H. G. J., The high frequency of spectra of the elements. Philos. Mag., 2013, 26, 1024; https://web.lemoyne.edu/~giunta/Moseley-article.html
- Kutzleman, T., The Search for the Final Element. https:// www.chemedx.org/blog/search-final-element
- Nazarewicz, W., The limits of nuclear mass and charge. Nature Physics, 2018, 14, 537; doi:10.1038/s41567-018-0163-3.
- Ball, P., Extreme chemistry: experiments at the edge of the periodic table. Nature, 2019, 565, 552; doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00285-9.
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