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Chemistry is fun. Too hard for precise physics (pre quantum computing, see also quantum chemistry), but not too hard for some maths like social sciences.
And it underpins biology.
Video 1. 100 Greatest Discoveries - Chemistry by the Discovery Channel (2005) Source. Pretty good within what you can expect from popular science. The discovery selection is solid, and he interviews 3 Nobel Prize laureates, only one about stuff they invented, so you can see their faces. The short non-precise scenes of epoch are also pleasing. Part of 100 Greatest Discoveries by the Discovery Channel (2004-2005).
Theory that atoms exist, i.e. matter is not continuous.
Much before atoms were thought to be "experimentally real", chemists from the 19th century already used "conceptual atoms" as units for the proportions observed in macroscopic chemical reactions, e.g. . The thing is, there was still the possibility that those proportions were made up of something continuous that for some reason could only combine in the given proportions, so the atoms could only be strictly consider calculatory devices pending further evidence.
Subtle is the Lord by Abraham Pais (1982) chapter 5 "The reality of molecules" has some good mentions. Notably, physicists generally came to believe in atoms earlier than chemists, because the phenomena they were most interested in, e.g. pressure in the ideal gas law, and then Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics just scream atoms more loudly than chemical reactions, as they saw that these phenomena could be explained to some degree by traditional mechanics of little balls.
Confusion around the probabilistic nature of the second law of thermodynamics was also used as a physical counterargument by some. Pais mentions that Wilhelm Ostwald notably argued that the time reversibility of classical mechanics + the second law being a fundamental law of physics (and not just probabilistic, which is the correct hypothesis as we now understand) must imply that atoms are not classic billiard balls, otherwise the second law could be broken.
Pais also mentions that a big "chemical" breakthrough was Isomers suggest that atoms exist.
Very direct evidence evidence:
Less direct evidence:
Subtle is the Lord by Abraham Pais (1982) page 40 mentions several methods that Einstein used to "prove" that atoms were real. Perhaps the greatest argument of all is that several unrelated methods give the same estimates of atom size/mass:
Subtle is the Lord by Abraham Pais (1982) mentions that this has a good summary of the atomic theory evidence that was present at the time, and which had become basically indisputable at or soon after that date.
An English translation from 1916 by English chemist Dalziel Llewellyn Hammick on the Internet Archive, also on the public domain:
Subtle is the Lord by Abraham Pais (1982) page 85:
However, it became increasingly difficult in chemical circles to deny the reality of molecules after 1874, the year in which Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff and Joseph Achille Le Bel independently explained the isomerism of certain organic substances in terms of stereochemical properties of carbon compounds.
so it is quite cool to see that organic chemistry is one of the things that pushed atomic theory forward. Because when you start to observe that isomers has different characteristics, despite identical proportions of atoms, this is really hard to explain without talking about the relative positions of the atoms within molecules!
TODO: is there anything even more precise that points to atoms in stereoisomers besides just the "two isomers with different properties" thing?
Small microscopic visible particles move randomly around in water.
If water were continuous, this shouldn't happen. Therefore this serves as one important evidence of atomic theory.
The amount it moves also quantitatively matches with the expected properties of water and the floating particles, was was settled in 1905 by Einstein at: investigations on the theory of the Brownian movement by Einstein (1905).
This suggestion that Brownian motion comes from the movement of atoms had been made much before Einstein however, and passed tortuous discussions. Subtle is the Lord by Abraham Pais (1982) page 93 explains it well. There had already been infinite discussion on possible causes of those movements besides atomic theory, and many ideas were rejected as incompatible with observations:
Further investigations eliminated such causes as temperature gradients, mechanical disturbances, capillary actions, irradiation of the liquid (as long as the resulting temperature increase can be neglected), and the presence of convection currents within the liquid.
The first suggestions of atomic theory were from the 1860s.
Tiny uniform plastic beads called "microbeads" are the preferred 2019 modern method of doing this:
Original well known observation in 1827 by Brown, with further experiments and interpretation in 1908 by Jean Baptiste Perrin. Possible precursor observation in 1785 by Jan Ingenhousz, not sure why he wasn't credited better.
Video 2. Observing Brownian motion of micro beads by Forrest Charnock (2016) Source.
Was the first model to explain the Balmer series, notably linking atomic spectra to the Planck constant and therefore to other initial quantum mechanical observations.
This was one of the first major models that just said:
I give up, I can't tie this to classical physics in any way, let's just roll with it, OK?
It still treats electrons as little points spinning around the nucleus, but it makes the non-classical postulate that only certain angular momentums (and therefore energies) are allowed.
Bagic jump between orbitals in the Bohr model. Analogous to the later wave function collapse in the Schrödinger equation.
Refinement of the Bohr model that starts to take quantum angular momentum into account in order to explain missing lines that would have been othrwise observed TODO specific example of such line.
They are not observe because they would violate the conservation of angular momentum.
TODO confirm year and paper, Wikipedia points to:
This technique is crazy! It allows to both:
  • separate gaseous mixtures
  • identify gaseous compounds
You actually see discrete peaks at different minute counts on the other end.
It is based on how much the gas interacts with the column.
Detection is usually done burning the sample to ionize it when it comes out, and then you measure the current produced.
The procedure remind you a bit of gel electrophoreses, except that it is in gaseous phase.
Video 3. Gas chromatography by Quick Biochemistry Basics (2019) Source.
Video 4. How I invented the electron capture detector interview with James Lovelock by Web of Stories (2001) Source. He mentions how scientists had to make their own tools during the 40s/60s. Then how gas chromatography was invented at the National Institute for Medical Research and gained a Nobel Prize. Lovelock came in improving the detection part of things.
The name makes absolutely no sense in modern terms, as nor colours nor light are used directly in the measurements. It is purely historical.
Cody'sLab had a nice 5 video series on making it at home! But the United States Government asked him to take it down as suggested at Video "What's Been Going On With Cody'sLab? by Cody'sLab (2019)" at
Here's a copy online as of 2020:
4 K. Enough for to make "low temperature superconductors" like regular metals superconducting, e.g. the superconducting temperature of aluminum if 1.2 K.
Contrast with liquid nitrogen, which is much cheaper but only goes to 77K.
Surprisingly, it can also become a superfluid even though each atom is a fermion! This is because of Cooper pair formation, just like in superconductors, but the transition happens at lower temperatures than superfluid helium-4, which is a boson.
Also sometimes called helium II, in contrast to helium I, which is the non-superfluid liquid helium phase.
Video 5. Superfluid helium Resonance Experiment by Dietterich Labs (2019) Source.
Video 6. Buckyballs (C60) by Periodic Videos (2010) Source. Actually shows them in a lab!
  • has a photo of the first effective production method, which passes a large current between two carbon rods
  • and forward cuts (their editing is very annoying) shows how fullerene dissolves in an organic solvent TODO name, sounds like thodium? and produces a violet solution, while graphite doesn't. A Ultrasonic bath is needed for the solution to form however.
  • fullerene is not a good lubricant despite being a little ball, because it is reactive and polymerises under pressure
Video 7. Endohedral Fullerenes by Dom Burges (2016) Source.
The layered one.
A single layer of graphite.
77K. Low enough for "high temperature superconductors" such as yttrium barium copper oxide, but for "low temperature superconductors", you need to go much lower, typically with liquid helium, which is likely much more expensive. TODO by how much?
Video 8. Where Do You Get Liquid Nitrogen? by The King of Random (2016) Source. He just goes to a medical gases shop in a local industrial estate and buys 20L for 95 dollars and brings it back on his own Dewar marked 35LD.
Video 9. Making Liquid Nitrogen From Scratch! by Veritasium (2019) Source. "From scratch" is perhaps a bit clickbaity, but I'll take it.
piezoelectric, and notably used in quartz clock.
Video 10. Danger by Bayway Refinery. Source. TODO year.
An alloy of iron and carbon. Because such allys have had such incredible historical importance due to their different properties, different phases of Fe-C have well known names such as steel
Figure 2. Temperature vs Carbon% phase diagram of Fe-C. Source.
A phase of Fe-C characterized by the low ammount of carbon.
Figure 3. Source.
This is apparently the most important III-V semiconductor, it seems to actually have some applications, see also: gallium arsenide vs silicon.
The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray by Charles J. Murray (1997) page 4 mentions:
Cray wanted his new machine to employ circuits made from a material called gallium arsenide. Gallium arsenide had achieved limited success, particularly in satellite communications and military electronics. But no one had succeeded with it in anything so complicated as a computer. In the computer industry, engineers had developed a saying: "Gallium arsenide is the technology of the future," they would say. "And it always will be."
Second most important superconducting material: applications of superconductivity.
Stable isotope.
Highly radioactive isotope of caesium with half-life of 30.17 y. Produced from the nuclear fission of uranium, TODO exact reaction, not found in nature.
The fucked thing about this byproduct is that it is in the same chemical family as sodium, and therefore forms a salt that looks like regular table salt, and dissolves in water and therefore easily enters your body and sticks to things.
Another problem is that its half-life is long enough that it doesn't lose radioactivity very quickly compared to the life of a human person, although it is short enough to make it highly toxic, making it a terrible pollutant when released.
This is why for example in the goiânia accident a girl ended up ingesting Caesium-137 after eating an egg after touching the Caesium with her hands.
Figure 4. caesium-137 decay scheme. Source.
Video 11. One handful contaminated a city by Kyle Hill (2021) Source.
Not "Yt" because that is already "Yttrium". God.
Video 12. Hands: A Dublin Bookbinder. Source. Some awesome gold leaf action!
There are no stable isotopes.
The least unstable isotope, occurs as part of the uranium 238 decay chain.
Discovered by Marie Curie when she noticed that there was some yet unknown more radioactive element in their raw samples, after uranium had already been separated.
The uranium 238 decay chain is the main source of naturally occurring radium.
Video 13. The epic story of radium by Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (2013) Source.
Figure 5. Uranium-238 decay chain. Source.
The definition does not include homonuclear molecules which is a pain.
Single chemical element, single phase (usually solid), but different 3D structures.
The prototypical examples are the allotropes of carbon.
The most important on in metabolism internals, everything else gets converted to it before being processed in the .
Nutrient that a given species cannot produce and must ingest in its diet.
Active compound in pepper. Surprises and revelations in biochemistry: 1950-2000 by Perry A. Frey (2006). This should be worth a read.
Ah, this seems like a nice dude.
Video 14. Fred Sanger 1918-2013 by Birgitta Olofsson (2013) Source. This is a good video especially is you know Cambridge, to help situate Sanger's places a bit. Good Sanger quote at the end:
I always tell people, it is much easier to get the second one than the first
They made gunpowder. Then the American Civil War came. Billions, baby.
Military links carried over well into World War II, where e.g. they built the B Reactor.
TODO why can't we produce organic compounds more cheaply by total synthesis than biosynthesis?
Video 15. Computer Aided Simulation & Design in Chemical Engineering by Chemical Engineering Guy (2016) Source. Interesting overview of the different types of modelling software used in chemical process design.
Video 16. How to Design a Total Synthesis by Mike Christiansen (2013) Source. Just a ultra quick hello world with some very basic ideas, but worth watching.
Video 17. SuperPro Designer: Fermentation Simulation by LearnChemE (2012) Source.
Video 18. Process Simulation Software FREE Download - Aspen Hysys versus DWSim | COCO by Jeferson Costa (2020) Source. Jeferson, a Brazilian from Petrobras, is the creator of the open source DWSim software, and in this video he gives a quick demo of his software and compares it briefly to aspen HYSYS, which appears to be the golden paid reference implementaion.
Video 19. Aspen Hysys Introduction by Emmanuel Oloyede (2016) Source. Holy crap, the UI is idential to Microsoft Word with that huge top bar!!!
First, experiments, please how do you determine it and how it helps predict the future:
No YouTube video? Really?
Only certain battery voltages exist, because this voltage depends intrinscally on the battery's chemical composition. (CC BY-SA) has a very good summary list, reordered from lowest to highest voltage:
Battery Shape Chemistry Nominal Voltage Rechargeable?
AA, AAA, C, D (Rechargeable) NiMH or NiCd 1.2V Yes
AA, AAA, C, and D Alkaline or Zinc-carbon 1.5V No
Coin Cell Lithium 3V No
Silver Flat Pack Lithium Polymer (LiPo) 3.7V Yes
9V Alkaline or Zinc-carbon 9V No
Car Battery Six-cell lead acid 12.6V Yes
  • shows Fluke 731B Voltage Standard which contains 1.018 values due to Weston cell voltage standard
I can't believe there isn't a YouTube video comparing various substances for each flammability and instability ratings, this would be a huge hit.


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