Séminaire d’histoire et philosophie des sciences : Chimie, science et société
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|Physical Methods of Chemistry, 1950–1980|
Carsten Reinhardt (Bielefeld)
25 mars 2010
In mid-twentieth century, chemists took up novel kinds of instrumentation that had originated in physics and high-technology. Chemists integrated nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), mass spectrometry, infrared and ultraviolet spectroscopy—to name only the most important techniques—in their research projects, and directed their research programs according to the opportunities and needs afforded by their instruments. Some scientists concentrated on the development of problem-solving, instrument-based methods for use in research fields they knew well. In doing so, they merged the objects of chemical inquiry—molecular structures and dynamics—with high-technological instruments. In introducing physical methods in chemical research and routine analysis, the chemical sciences and technologies underwent a major transformation. Its most important method, the chemical reaction, was supplemented by physical methods; and its practitioner, the chemist, was partially displaced by technical instruments. The intention of the lecture is to present some individual research strategies during this crucial transformation of twentieth-century chemistry. Furthermore, it will present some stories and incidents, describing the experiences of some of the involved scientists during their interactions with the instruments.