The reception of the periodic system of elements has received little attention. Many historians have studied Mendeleev's discovery of the periodic system, but few have analyzed how the scientific community perceived and employed it. American historian of science Stephen G. Brush concluded that the periodic law had been generally accepted in the United States and Britain and suggested the need to extend this study to other countries. Early Responses to the Periodic System is the first collection of comparative studies on the reception, response, and appropriation of the periodic system of elements. This book examines the history of pedagogy and popularization in scientific communities, educational sectors, and popular culture from the 1870s to the 1920s. Fifteen historians of science explore eleven countries (and one region) central to chemical research, including Russia, Germany, the Czech lands, and Japan, one of the few nation-states outside the Western world to participate in nineteenth century scientific research. The collection, organized by nation-state, explores how local actors regarded the new discovery as law, classification, or theoretical interpretation.
The section on France discusses how a small but significant group of authors, including Adolphe Wurtz and Edouard Grimaux, introduced the periodic system as support for the atomic theory-not as the final solution to the longstanding quest for a natural classification of elements. The chapter on Germany discusses the role of Lothar Meyer, also awarded The Davy Medal for the discovery of the periodic system. Meyer's role was considered less important, and he was forgotten in his home country, Germany where educational tradition was well established, and the periodic system was not used as a novel didactic approach. In addition to discussing the appropriation of the periodic system, the collection examines metaphysical reflections of nature based on the periodic system outside of chemistry and considers how far we can push the categories of "response " and "reception. "