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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

18th century

18th century

Étienne François Geoffroy’s 1718 Affinity Table: at the head of the column is a substance with which all the substances below can combine.
An early precursor to the idea of bonded "combinations of atoms", was the theory of "combination via chemical affinity". For example, in 1718, building on Boyle’s conception of combinations of clusters, the French chemist Étienne François Geoffroy developed theories of chemical affinity to explain combinations of particles, reasoning that a certain alchemical “force” draws certain alchemical components together. Geoffroy's name is best known in connection with his tables of "affinities" (tables des rapports), which he presented to the French Academy in 1718 and 1720.
These were lists, prepared by collating observations on the actions of substances one upon another, showing the varying degrees of affinity exhibited by analogous bodies for different reagents. These tables retained their vogue for the rest of the century, until displaced by the profounder conceptions introduced by CL Berthollet.
In 1738, Swiss physicist and mathematician Daniel Bernoulli published Hydrodynamica, which laid the basis for the kinetic theory of gases. In this work, Bernoulli positioned the argument, still used to this day, that gases consist of great numbers of molecules moving in all directions, that their impact on a surface causes the gas pressure that we feel, and that what we experience as heat is simply the kinetic energy of their motion. The theory was not immediately accepted, in part because conservation of energy had not yet been established, and it was not obvious to physicists how the collisions between molecules could be perfectly elastic.

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