What is an element? What is the periodic table? And what does quantum mechanics contribute to the question?
Foundations of Chemistry 14 (1):69-81 (2012)
This article considers two important traditions concerning the chemical elements. The first is the meaning of the term “element” including the distinctions between element as basic substance, as simple substance and as combined simple substance. In addition to briefly tracing the historical development of these distinctions, I make comments on the recent attempts to clarify the fundamental notion of element as basic substance for which I believe the term “element” is best reserved. This discussion has focused on the writings of Fritz Paneth which are here analyzed from a new perspective. The other tradition concerns the reduction of chemistry to quantum mechanics and an understanding of chemical elements through their microscopic components such as protons, neutrons and electrons. I claim that the use of electronic configurations has still not yet settled the question of the placement of several elements and discuss an alternative criterion based on maximizing triads of elements. I also point out another possible limitation to the reductive approach, namely the failure, up to now, to obtain a derivation of the Madelung rule. Mention is made of some recent similarity studies which could be used to clarify the nature of ‘elements’. Although it has been suggested that the notion of element as basic substance should be considered in terms of fundamental particles like protons and electrons, I resist this move and conclude that the quantum mechanical tradition has not had much impact on the question of what is an element which remains an essentially philosophical issue
|Keywords||Element Basic substance Paneth Quantum mechanics Periodic table Madelung rule|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
References found in this work BETA
Numerical Taxonomy: The Principles and Practice of Numerical Classification.Peter H. A. Sneath & Robert R. Sokal - 1973 - W. H. Freeman and Co..
Citations of this work BETA
The 4s and 3d Subshells: Which One Fills First in Progressing Through the Periodic Table and Which One Fills First in Any Particular Atom? [REVIEW]Sadegh Salehzadeh & Farahnaz Maleki - 2016 - Foundations of Chemistry 18 (1):57-65.
Similar books and articles
Some Aspects of the Metaphysics of Chemistry and the Nature of the Elements.Eric Scerri - 2005 - Hyle 11 (2):127 - 145.
On the Continuity of Reference of the Elements: A Response to Hendry.Eric Scerri - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (2):308-321.
Has the Periodic Table Been Successfully Axiomatized?Eric R. Scerri - 1997 - Erkenntnis 47 (2):229-243.
Response to Vollmer's Review of Minds and Molecules.Eric Scerri - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (2):391-398.
Concerning Electronegativity as a Basic Elemental Property and Why the Periodic Table is Usually Represented in its Medium Form.Mark R. Leach - 2013 - Foundations of Chemistry 15 (1):13-29.
How Chemistry Shifts Horizons: Element, Substance, and the Essential.Joseph E. Earley - 2009 - Foundations of Chemistry 11 (2):65-77.
Explaining the Periodic Table, and the Role of Chemical Triads.Eric Scerri - 2010 - Foundations of Chemistry 12 (1):69-83.
On the Rightful Place for He Within the Periodic Table.Octavio Novaro - 2008 - Foundations of Chemistry 10 (1):3-12.
Patching Physics and Chemistry Together.Robert C. Bishop - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):710-722.
On Recent Discussion Concerning Quantum Justification of the Periodic Table of the Elements.V. N. Ostrovsky - 2005 - Foundations of Chemistry 7 (3):235-239.
The Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.John G. Cramer - 1986 - Reviews of Modern Physics 58 (3):647-687.
Lavoisier and Mendeleev on the Elements.Robin Findlay Hendry - 2004 - Foundations of Chemistry 7 (1):31-48.
Added to index2011-10-17
Total downloads38 ( #134,746 of 2,163,972 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #84,227 of 2,163,972 )
How can I increase my downloads?