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The Chemistry of the Rare Earths

Nature volume 36, pages 357358 | Download Citation

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Abstract

IT is now nearly twelve months since the chemical world was agitated by the memorable departure made by Mr. Crookes, in his address to the Chemical Section of the British Association, in attempting to translate into language thoughts which had been irresistibly forced home to the minds of many men of science as to the insufficiency of the theories of our modern chemical philosophy to account for the presence in our midst of those objects of ever-increasing interest, the chemical elements. It will be remembered that, both in the address referred to and in his lecture at the Royal Institution on the “Genesis of the Elements,” Mr. Crookes based a large portion of his arguments upon the remarkable experiences which he himself had met with in endeavouring to separate the constituents of the rare earths contained in several sparsely distributed minerals. It may be of interest just to recall the main conclusions drawn by the lecturer from his experiments upon the substances yielded by the laborious but fruitful process of fractionation. Yttrium, which only two years ago was supposed to be a simple substance, fell under that nil desperandum sorting influence into five components, each of which presented a distinct phosphorescent spectrum; samarium, one of the constituents of old didymium, was found to consist of two and possibly of three ingredients; and finally, the two components of didymium itself, into which it had been separated by Dr. Auer von Welsbach, were shown by Mr. Crookes, M. de Boisbaudran, and M. Demarcay to consist themselves of several.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/036357a0

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