Georg Helm's Chemical Energetics

Hyle 18 (1):23 - 44 (2012)

Abstract
This essay has three interrelated goals: first, to sketch the basic contours of Georg Helm's energetic theory; second, to describe his attempt in his Grundzüge der mathematischen Chemie. Energetik der chemischen Erscheinungen (1894) to apply that theory to the (then) burgeoning new field of physical chemistry. This is of some interest historically, since Helm's work is the most sophisticated attempt to develop the whole of physical chemistry mathematically from an energetic point of view. Nevertheless, it is seriously flawed technically. Moreover, that development is inconsistent with Helm's considered way of thinking about energy and energetic change. So a third goal of the essay is to explain his mature conception of the goal of energetics. I begin with a brief introduction to Helm and energetics, and end with some general conclusions about the success of Helm's mathematische Chemie
Keywords Philosophy of Chemistry  energetics  Georg Helm  mathematics in chemistry  Wilhelm Ostwald  physical chemistry
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