Law of multiple proportions (chemistry)/Bibliography

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A list of key readings about Law of multiple proportions (chemistry).
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Books that discuss Dalton's law of multiple proportions

  • Excerpt: The discovery of the law of simple multiple proportions was the first great success of Dalton's atomic theory. This law was not induced from experimental results, but was derived from the theory, and then tested by experiment.
  • Excerpt: The Greek philosopher Democritus (about 460-370 B.C.), who had adopted some of his ideas from earlier philosophers, stated that the universe is composed of void (vacuum) and atoms. The atoms were considered to be everlasting and indivisible — absolutely small, so small that their size could not be diminished. He considered the atoms of different substances, such as water and iron, to be fundamentally the same, but to differ in some superficial way; atoms of water, being smooth and round, could roll over one another, whereas atoms of iron, being rough and jagged, would cling together to form a solid body....The atomic theory of Democritus was pure speculation, and was much too general to be useful. Dalton's atomic theory, however, was a hypothesis that explained many facts in a simple and reasonable way.


  • Excerpt: While working on the relative weights of the atoms, Dalton noticed a curious mathematical simplicity. Carbon united with oxygen in the ratio of 3 to 4 to form carbon monoxide, that poisonous gas which is used as a fuel in the gas-range. Carbon also united with oxygen to form gaseous carbon dioxide in the ratio of 3 to 8. Why not 3 to 6, or 3 to 7? Why that number 8 which was a perfect multiple of 4? If that were the only example, Dalton would not have bothered his head. But he found a more striking instance among the oxides of nitrogen, which Cavendish and Davy had investigated. Here the same amount of nitrogen united with one, two and four parts of oxygen to form three distinct compounds. Why these numbers which again were multiples of each other? He had studied two other gases, ethylene and methane, and found that methane contained exactly twice as much hydrogen as ethylene. Why this mathematical simplicity?....Again Dalton made models with his atoms, and found the answer….Carbon monoxide (CO) was ©O, while carbon dioxide (C02) was ©OO. Nitrous oxide (N20) was ØØO, and ØO was nitric oxide (NO), while nitrogen peroxide (NO2) could be represented as ØOO. He had discovered another fundamental law in chemistry!...Berzelius later stated this law as follows: In a series of compounds made up of the same elements, a simple ratio exists between the weights of one and the fixed weight of the other element....He wrote to Dalton to tell him that "this Law of Multiple Proportions was a mystery without the atomic hypothesis." Again Dalton's little spheres had clarified a basic truth.