Dalton and Atomic Symbols


    IN an article in the Moniteur Scientifique Quesneville Prof. Maurice Delacre, stimulated by a passage in “The Life and Work of Gerhardt” by E. Gnmaux, severely criticises the attitude which was taken up by Berzelius in his celebrated “Essai sur la théorie des proportions chimiques” (Paris, 1819) towards the work of Dalton. The chief ground of the criticism is that in this work, the original of which appeared in Swedish in 1818, Berzelius describes his well-known system of chemical symbols without making any mention of the fact that Dalton had more thaa ten years previously introduced true atomic symbols and used them for the construction of formulæ. The passage in the “Essai” of Berzelius reads as though he himself had been the first to conceive this happy idea, and has thus given rise to the erroneous view entertained by some writers on the history of chemistry that Berzelius invented atomic symbols, whereas the credit is entirely due to Dalton.

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    Dalton and Atomic Symbols. Nature 107, 440 (1921). https://doi.org/10.1038/107440a0

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