London: Macmillan. First edition of a 1911 letter to Nature in which Antonius van den Broek proposed what is perhaps the most important single innovation within the periodic table: that elements are defined by the number of charges in the nucleus, and that the periodic table should be sequenced by atomic charge rather than atomic weight.
Van den Broek's idea was an enormous breakthrough. Prior to this time, all periodic tables were sequenced either by equivalent weight or atomic weight, neither of which was satisfactory, as a number of elements appeared to be out of order based on their chemical properties. However, van den Broek's letter had little impact - he had offered a brilliant idea, but he had no standing in the scientific community and too little evidence for his proposal. In the 1913 second letter to Nature offered here, van den Broek was able to quote evidence for his proposal based on experiments conducted by Rutherford, Geiger, and Marsden. This letter had the intended impact.
One week later in a paper also contained in this 1913 volume, Frederick Soddy agrees with van den Broek and "points out that the van den Broek hypothesis leads to the generalizations on radioactive decay that he and Fajans had proposed earlier in the year" (Greenberg, A Chemistry History Tour, 262). Van den Broek had forever changed the organization of the periodic table. The 1913 paper in which Soddy responded to van den Broek is also important because it is the first time the word "Isotope" appeared in print. Also in this volume, a rather indignant Ernest Rutherford responded to Soddy's charge regarding "Rutherford's tentative theory" that the nucleus has only positive charge. As he elaborated, Rutherford "came tantalizingly close to postulating the proton" (Nature). Item #202
CONDITION & DETAILS: London: Macmillan. Complete. 4to (Quarto). 10.5 x 7.5 inches (262 x 187mm). [xl], 732, . Ex-libris with the usual markings. In text illustrations throughout. Bound in half calf over marbled paper boards. Five raised bands at the spine; gilt-lettering. Very tightly bound; minor scuffing at the edges and spine. Marbled endpapers. Bright and clean throughout.