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Hans Christian ØrstedReading Nature's Mind$
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Dan Ch. Christensen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199669264

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669264.001.0001

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| 1825 | 1825 Aluminium Priority and Nationalism

| 1825 | 1825 Aluminium Priority and Nationalism

(p.424) 42 | 1825 Aluminium Priority and Nationalism
Hans Christian Ørsted

Dan C. Christensen

Oxford University Press

Davy turns up in Copenhagen to see Ørsted. His vain attempts to inhibit ‘the iron disease’ in the navy are briefly explained. Davy and Ørsted discuss thermoelectricity and the possibility of isolating elements from clay soil. Together they dine with Prince Christian Frederik. Their relationship is evaluated. In Helsingborg they meet Berzelius and Wöhler, who are wrestling with the same problems. Ørsted befriends Wöhler and discusses the potential isolation of aluminium. Ørsted's search for aluminium is successful thanks to a two-phase method. His discovery (1825) is not published by himself, but by Hansteen. Wöhler tries to repeat Ørsted's achievement in Berlin looking for new methods. Two years later Wöhler manages to produce pure aluminium. The current debate on priority is settled by Ørsted's notes for a lecture in 1828 granting the credit to Wöhler and conceding that ‘perhaps Ørsted's clay metal contained a little potassium metal’.

Keywords:   Davy, ‘the iron disease’, thermoelectricity, Prince Christian Frederik, Ørsted's discovery, and Wöhler's, aluminium, priority

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