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A Well-Ordered Thing$
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Michael D. Gordin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172385

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172385.001.0001

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The Ideal Gas Lawyer

The Ideal Gas Lawyer

Expanding Science on the Banks of the Neva

(p.44) Chapter 3 The Ideal Gas Lawyer
A Well-Ordered Thing
Michael D. Gordin
Princeton University Press

This chapter details Dmitrii Mendeleev's turn to gas laws. In 1871, Mendeleev's successes lay far in the future. However, his bold predictions of 1871 had two glaring deficiencies: they were unsubstantiated, and they were not in the chemical tradition. The whole thing smacked of physics, and, as the chemist abandoned his half-hearted attempts to uncover his missing elements, his wavering attention shifted to that science. In the eyes of his peers, Mendeleev had abandoned his chemical guesses—and chemistry altogether—in favor of subsidized research on gas laws, of all things. This new, broadly conceived gas project would dominate his attention throughout the 1870s, but, in contrast to the repeated successes of the periodic law, every aspect of the effort would end in dramatic failure.

Keywords:   Dmitrii Mendeleev, gas laws, physics, chemistry, periodic law

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