Discussion:
For Lanarcam: H2O
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Athel Cornish-Bowden
2017-10-08 16:46:55 UTC
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The other day you answered "Lavoisier" to the question of who
discovered that water was H2O. I was a bit dubious at the time but I
didn't say so because I wasn't sure whether Lavoisier really knew it
was 2:1. However, I'm reading something today for a colleague in
Boulder who says just that Lavoisier found that water could be
decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen, that Dalton thought it was HO, and
that Berzelius showed that it was H2O. I think she's preobly right, as
that agrees with my recollection, but I haven't checked further.
--
athel
Peter T. Daniels
2017-10-08 17:42:41 UTC
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Post by Athel Cornish-Bowden
The other day you answered "Lavoisier" to the question of who
discovered that water was H2O. I was a bit dubious at the time but I
didn't say so because I wasn't sure whether Lavoisier really knew it
was 2:1. However, I'm reading something today for a colleague in
Boulder who says just that Lavoisier found that water could be
decomposed into hydrogen and oxygen, that Dalton thought it was HO, and
that Berzelius showed that it was H2O. I think she's preobly right, as
that agrees with my recollection, but I haven't checked further.
Yet you had no qualms about citing a work by Lavoisier as your "starting point."
Peter Moylan
2017-10-09 05:41:23 UTC
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The other day you answered "Lavoisier" to the question of who discovered
that water was H2O. I was a bit dubious at the time but I didn't say so
because I wasn't sure whether Lavoisier really knew it was 2:1. However,
I'm reading something today for a colleague in Boulder who says just
that Lavoisier found that water could be decomposed into hydrogen and
oxygen, that Dalton thought it was HO, and that Berzelius showed that it
was H2O. I think she's preobly right, as that agrees with my
recollection, but I haven't checked further.
A quick wander around the web, to refresh my memory, suggests that
credit for discovering the decomposition of water is claimed for at
least four people. For the discovery of the two-to-one ratio, the
assignment of credit could be equally fuzzy. Still, that's normal in
science, where multiple scientists can be neck-and-neck in the race to
announce an idea "whose time has come".

It does appear that Lavoisier should get the primary credit for
debunking the phlogiston theory.
--
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
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