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Early Responses to the Periodic System$
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Masanori Kaji, Helge Kragh, and Gabor Pallo

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190200077

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190200077.001.0001

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Nationalism and the Process of Reception and Appropriation of the Periodic System in Europe and the Czech Lands

Nationalism and the Process of Reception and Appropriation of the Periodic System in Europe and the Czech Lands

(p.121) Chapter 6 Nationalism and the Process of Reception and Appropriation of the Periodic System in Europe and the Czech Lands
Early Responses to the Periodic System

Soňa Štrbáňová

Oxford University Press

The 1870s marked the onset of an exceptionally fruitful and dynamic period in the development of chemistry in the Czech Lands. University education and research in chemistry was taking place at several universities and technical universities, where the structure of the main chemical subjects developed gradually into organic, inorganic, analytical, physical, fermentation, and medical chemistry, just to mention the main specialties. At the same time, the process of the Czech National Revival led to the cultural, linguistic, social, and political emancipation of the modern Czech nation and stepwise almost entirely separated the linguistically Czech and German scientific communities in all their representations, including university education. In Prague, the divided German and Czech Polytechnics (and later Technical Universities) existed since 1869, whereas the Charles-Ferdinand University split into its Czech and German counterparts only in the years 1882 and 1883. The chemical community was organized in several professional associations that also reflected the ethnic division of the scientific scene. The Society of Czech Chemists, founded in 1866, had almost exclusively Czech membership, while a specialized German chemical association has never been created in the Czech Lands. This study deals with two closely intertwined themes: the reception of the periodic system in the Czech Lands and in Europe and the crucial role of the Czech chemist Bohuslav Brauner in this process. I am going to demonstrate a specific set of conditions that shaped the process of appropriation of this new scientific idea by not only scholarly argumentation, but also particular circumstances, in this case Slavic nationalism and Russophilia in the Czech society at the turn of the nineteenth century. The course of dissemination and reception of the periodic system also showed linkage to the linguistic emancipation of the Czech nation as reflected in the controversy over the Czech chemical terminology, where the periodic system served as argument to one party of the dispute.

Keywords:   Atomic nucleus, Beryllium, Congress of the Russian Natural Scientists, Czech National Revival, Didymium, Gallium, Habsburg Monarchy, Inorganic chemistry, Lanthanum, Ordinal numbers, Rare earth elements, Spectroscopy

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