Almost a Discovery – Henri Gorceix, the Mining School of Ouro Preto, the Monazite Sand of Bahia and the Chemistry of Didymium
The chemical history of the supposed element didymium may well be characterised as a case of collecting empirical data in a period of “normal” science. But this element’s history also reveals little known facts of the history of chemistry in South America, such as the exploration and smuggling of monazite sands, and the difficult beginnings of scientific research and higher education in Brazil. Didymium is also a curious case: even after it was shown to be a mixture, it continued to be regarded as an element. This fact alone raises questions about the adequacy of scientific methodology at the time. In this paper, we consider the history of didymium, and determine how this history’s different facts and stories, set in Brazil’s rather unique historical and scientific context, intertwine thanks to the work of Claude Henri Gorceix.
Copyright (c) 2018 Juergen Heinrich Maar
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