RAMSAY (Sir WILLIAM) Autograph manuscript of a detailed essay entitled 'The Outlook of the Chemists', illustrated with diagrams, [c.1908]
Lot 236
RAMSAY (Sir WILLIAM) Autograph manuscript of a detailed essay entitled 'The Outlook of the Chemists', illustrated with diagrams, [c.1908]
£2,500 - 3,000
US$ 4,000 - 4,800

Lot Details
RAMSAY (Sir WILLIAM)
Autograph manuscript of a detailed essay entitled 'The Outlook of the Chemists', illustrated with diagrams, with his name written in full under the title ("By Sir William Ramsay, K.C.B, F.R.S."), and with revisions, deletions and corrections mostly in an editorial hand, some by Ramsay himself, giving an important account of the history, progress and advances of chemistry in the nineteenth century, from Dalton to the Braggs, father and son, via Thomson, citing their and other experiments, giving formulas, and including his own contributions, with analyses of atomic theory and of the structure of molecules as well as the use of X-rays and the development of organic chemistry ("...I have tried to show what the outook of the Chemists is in reference to the structure of matter. With a knowledge of this structure, attempts can be made to build up new compounds on a systematic plan. This pure science admits of applications; and among them it is certain that many will be useful to Man's welfare & progress"), 3,015 words according to an editorial count at the head of the first page, 10 pages, closely written, 4to, no date [c.1908]

Footnotes

  • RAMSAY ON THE PROGRESS OF CHEMISTRY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY AND ON THEN CURRENT ADVANCES AND LINES OF ENQUIRY. Publication untraced: not in Ramsay's Essays Biographical and Chemical. It was in 1908 that Ramsay and R.W. Whytlaw-Gray isolated Radon as an element, calling it Niton. The name Radon was adopted in the 1920s to refer to all the isotopes of the element.

    "...Numerous new elements, of which the best known is radium, have been discovered within the last 13 years. The peculiarity of these elements is that they decompose...Radium, for example, is always changing; it forms two gases, one discovered by the writer in 1895, named helium, a constituent of the atmosphere; the other Niton, a heavy gas that it general properties resembles helium. Helium, so far as we know, shows no tendency to break up further. But Niton [now called Radon], like radium, is decomposing all the time; it has a very short life...Is electricity an element? Yes, in a sense it is. Only its particles are much smaller than the smallest atoms we know; and it has a peculiar property - its particles, which have been named electrons, repel each other. The suggestion has been made by Sir Joseph Thomson that inasmuch as certain forms of matter decompose, or change, & shoot out electrons, it is likely that all forms of matter consist of electrons, & that atoms are made up of electrons. The difficulty here is to explain why electrons, that repel each other, should stick together and form an atom. It has been supposed that there is surrounding them some sort of atmosphere, or "stuff" (it is difficult to find a word for the supposed thing) that makes them stay together. It does not appear to the writer very probable however that such a stuff exists; & yet the theory that atoms are composed of electrons looks a plausible one...A similar question relates to the structure of molecules...Progress is being made in locating the position of atoms & molecules in crystals; and one of the most recent researches of the Braggs, father & son, is really very wonderful in this respect. The means of attack is in the use of X-rays..." See illustration on preceding page.
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