answer 20 questions about general chemistry

Chemistry 4830 – 

Information concerning the final examination:

The examination will consist of two questions similar to those in the list presented below. There will be two sections; one on older chemistry and one on more recent developments. You will have some choice of the essays you write but you will have to choose one question from each section. The examination will be OPEN NOTES.


1. Modern atomic theory is generally agreed to have been formulated in a chemically useful manner by John Dalton (~ 1810). Yet in 1826 the distinguished French chemist J. B. Dumas wrote:

“What remains of our ambitious incursion into the realm of the atom? Nothing; or at any rate nothing of importance. All we have gained is the conviction that chemistry has gone astray as she always has when, abandoning experiment, she has tried to walk in the dark without a guide. Experiments will take you to …. equivalents but you will look in vain for those atoms which our imagination has conceived. If I had my way, I should expunge the word atom from the vocabulary of science.”

Develop in detail the historical context in which such a statement would appear as a logical conclusion.

2. Discuss Dalton’s Atomic Theory, briefly touching on earlier ideas of atoms and the important aspects in which Dalton’s Theory differed from them.

3. What was the “atomic weight problem” in the early 19th century? How was it ultimately solved.

4. Discuss the Theory of Phlogiston, its flaws, and how the oxygen theory replaced it as a new unifying chemical theory.

5. The ancients knew seven metals and two non‑metals, alchemy discovered some three more elements, and the rest were discovered through the interplay of science and technology.

Discuss briefly how each of the following developments led to the discovery of elements (It is not necessary to name all the elements.):

(a) advances in mining techniques

(b) the pneumatic trough

(c) electrolysis

(d) the spectroscope

(e ) the periodic chart

(f) the discovery of radioactivity

(g) X‑ray spectrum analysis

6. Develop the experimental evidence that led to the ultimate downfall of electrochemical dualism as a viable theory in Organic Chemistry.

7. Evaluate the contributions of Laurent ,Gerhardt, and Butlerov to the structural theory of organic compounds.

8. Why is the Karlsruhe Conference of 1860 considered an important event in the History of Chemistry, when it reached no general conclusions, and could not even agree on an agenda’?

9. Discuss the development of organic chemistry during the 19th century, using the following as a possible outline:

Woehler’s synthesis of urea

The type theory and the radical theory

Frankland and valence

Tetravalence of carbon (Couper and Kekule)

Chemical structure (Couper, Crum Brown, Butlerov)

Tetrahedral carbon (Pasteur, van’t Hoff and LeBel)

10. Discuss the development of the Periodic Law and the Periodic Table from the time of Lothar Meyer and Mendeleev through 1920. Include experimental as well as theoretical developments.

11. Discuss the concept of “valence” (the chemical bond) from the time of Frankland through 1930. Include in your discussion experimental as well as theoretical contributions to structural theory.

12. Develop the historical bases for a belief in the “nuclear atom” (including extra‑nuclear electrons) beginning with early experiments on cathode rays.

13. Discuss the classification of the elements including the contributions of Dobereiner, Newlands, De Chancourtois, Mendeleev, Meyer, and Moseley.

14. Discuss the development of ideas about atomic structure in the 20th century up to about 1920, including the contributions of J.J. Thompson’; Rutherford, Bohr, De Broglie, and Heisenberg.

15. Develop the experimental rationale for the emergence of the theory of electrochemical dualism.

16. Discuss and evaluate critically the contributions of Laurent, Gerhardt, Williamson, Frankland,, and Kekule to the development of the concept of the tetravalence of carbon.

17. Exactly what is a dualistic theory of chemical compounds? What is a unitary theory? How were these opposing theories resolved in the nineteenth century?

18. Discuss the development of the concept of acids (acidity) and bases (basicity) from the time of Boyle to 1860.

19. Develop the historical bases for a belief in the three dimensional structure of carbon compounds.

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