Geochemistry in the U.S.S.R


THE term 'geochemistry', like many other scientific terms, has a variable connotation. If geochemistry means simply the chemical study of the earth or parts of the earth, then geochemistry must be as old as chemistry itself, and dates from the attempts of Babylonian and Egyptian metal-workers and potters to understand the nature and properties of their materials. If, on the other hand, geochemistry is not only that, but something more, namely, an attempt to understand the distribution of chemical elements in the different parts of the earth, the migration of chemical elements and the laws of their combinations in the process of mineral formation, then geochemistry is indeed a young science. This is why the Russian geochemists claim that geochemistry is the science of the twentieth century. In saying that, they imply that science does not consist of a mere collection of data, but involves also theories and hypotheses which link up the data to form an organized whole; that a real science involves a definite mental technique in handling problems, setting up new points of view, and, in general, marshalling the results of experience. According to the Russian men of science, geochemistry is now passing from the stage of the 'data of geochemistry' to the 'science of geochemistry'; and from being a mere handmaid of mineralogy, petrology and economic geology, it is emerging as an autonomous science with its own problems, scope and methods.

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