Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Bigamous Hydrogen—a Protest


NATURE is always both helpful and challenging and though these be degenerate days, in which the policeman stops duelling, as there is no organised scientific police force, some of us must answer her call and at least constitute ourselves special constables in protection of the liberties of our craft. Scientific son as I am, plus sixty years old, of Frankland, who was the first to enunciate the doctrine of valency, upon which our entire system of structural chemistry is based, I have been accustomed always to regard hydrogen as the most single-minded and moral of monogamists. If the story of chemistry, especially that of paraffinic chemistry, mean anything, it is that carbon and hydrogen are mutually satisfied when the carbon atom is married with four hydrogen atoms. The indifference to all external temptation of such unions is most remarkable: whether rightly or wrongly, we have, in consequence, built our entire symbolic edifice upon the assumption that hydrogen is a consistent monad.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

ARMSTRONG, H. Bigamous Hydrogen—a Protest. Nature 117, 553–554 (1926).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing