Title

Foundations of and Challenges to Electrolyte Chemistry

Author Faculty (Discipline)

Science

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-2015

Early Online Version

3-21-2015

Journal

Foundations of Chemistry

Volume Number

17

Issue Number

1

Page Numbers

33-48

ISSN

1386-4238

Embargo Period

8-31-2016

ANZSRC / FoR Code

030699 Physical Chemistry not elsewhere classified| 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy| 220206 History and Philosophy of Science (incl. Non-historical Philosophy of Science)

Reportable Items (HERDC/ERA)

C1

Peer Review

Before publication

Abstract

Mathematics is so common-place in modern physics and chemistry that one may not realise how controversial its admittance was to these fields in the eightieth and ninetieth centuries respectively. This paper deals with the controversy during the formation of physical chemistry as a discipline in the late ninetieth and early twentieth centuries and sketches more recent criticisms of the way mathematics has been used in solution chemistry. The controversy initially related particularly to electrolyte chemistry and its emerging use of mathematics to support Arrhenius’ theory of ionic dissociation. The impact of mathematics on the field is divided into three phases: that from 1880 to 1920 which was a period of heightened controversy; that from 1920 to 1990 which was a period of relative calm and mathematical development; and finally, that from 1990 to the present which has been a time of reflective criticism of the extensive use of empirical parameters in the emergent mathematics of the twentieth century. It is argued that the current solution to the criticism, as proposed by Heyrovska, is best viewed in the light of the historical development of the controversy.

Link to publisher version (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.1007/s10698-015-9219-y

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