Article ID: CBB001320273

Emil Wohlwill's “Entdeckung des Isomorphismus”: A Nineteenth-Century “Material Biography” of Crystallography (2013)

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Eilhard Mitscherlich's experimental work on isomorphism in the crystallisation of many inorganic compounds was regarded by Emil Wohlwill (1835 1912) as a milestone in the history of the atomic molecular theory. Despite his positivist account, Wohlwill's 1866 survey was primarily concerned with the material conditions that shaped Mitscherlich's theoretical assumptions on iso- and polymorphic crystallisation, narrowing the range of possible alternative models. Following an account of Wohlwill's exposition, and a discussion of his historiographic views, the paper shows how, from a historico-epistemological perspective, technical improvements in crystallography (an emerging branch of early-nineteenth-century mineralogy) were deeply entangled with a new interest in crystal formation as a cutting-edge research field of inorganic chemistry. This had fundamental implications for the development of atomic and molecular theory.

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Authors & Contributors
Melhado, Evan M.
Schütt, Hans-Werner
Kragh, Helge S.
García Belmar, Antonio
Bertomeu Sánchez, José Ramón
Garrigós i Oltra, Lluís
Journals
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences
Abhandlungen und Berichte des Deutschen Museums
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
Publishers
Springer
Springer Science + Business Media
Concepts
Chemistry
Atomic structure
Inorganic chemistry
Molecular structure
Crystallography
Philosophy of science
People
Mitscherlich, Eilhard
Dalton, John
Kelvin, William Thomson, Baron
Orfila, Mathieu Joseph Bonaventure
Casaseca y Silván, José Luis
Hoff, Jacobus Henricus van't
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
21st century
17th century
Places
England
France
Germany
Spain
China
Institutions
University of Chicago
Heidelberg Universität
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