Dalton's theory of the atom is generally considered to be what made the atom a scientifically fruitful concept in chemistry. To be sure, by Dalton's time the atom had already had a two-millenium history as a philosophical idea, and corpuscular thought had long been viable in natural philosophy (that is, in what we would today call physics). Atoms in Chemistry will examine episodes in the evolution of the concept of the atom, particularly in chemistry, from Dalton's day to our own. It begins with an overview of scientific atomic theories from the 17th through 20th centuries that analyzes corpuscular theories of matter proposed or entertained by natural philosophers in the 17th century. Chapters will focus on philosophical and religious conceptions of matter, 19th-century organic structural theories, the debate surrounding the truth of the atomic-molecular theory, and physical evidence accumulated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that suggested that atoms were actually real, even if they were not exactly as Dalton envisioned them. The final chapter of this book takes the reader beyond the atom itself to some of the places associated with the history of scientific atomism.
As a whole, this volume will serve as a passport to important episodes from the more than 200-year history of atoms in chemistry.