Presidential address. The atomic theory, with especial reference to the work of Stas and Prout's hypothesis

Alexander Scott
1917 Journal of the Chemical Society Transactions  
IN these troubled times, when the boasted progress of civilisation seems t o have been arrested and a t times even swept away, and that both by and especially amongst a so-called " Icultured " nation, one's thoughts and hopes and eincere wishes go out to Belgium for its speedy rehabilitation and return to prosperity. Especially does one wish well to the ancient city and university of Louvain, which but three short years ago rejoiced in the possession of a prieeless library and buildings of
more » ... d buildings of unique beauty and character. To t'he chemist in particular will the name of Louvain ever recall the birth and training there of on0 of the true founders of our science, perhaps not so much the layer of the foundation stones, rather the relayer, the tester, and the riveter together of the structure on which the fabric of modern chemical theory has h e n reared. For in the old Belgian town of Louvain on August 21st, 1813, was born Jean ServaisStas. He, like many other men who have devoted their lives to the prosecution of science and the increase of natural knowledge for its own sake, began his career by being eldueabed to be a doctor of medicine. Although he qualified in due course he never seems to have actually practised, but in some of his later work in connexion with a famous trial for poisoning by means of nicotine his early training was doubtless of grelat use. For him the call of chemistry was too strong, and after a preliminary investigation on phloridzin (extracted from a pear tree which had been cut down in the garden of a friend) carried out in a small laboratory in the attics of his father's house, he set out to Paris to eiideavour to obtain admittance as a worker in the laboratory of Dumas. The line of work with which Dumas was especially identified then and for many years afterwards was the determination of atomic weights, partt?icularly with the vielw of testing and establishing the hypothesis of Prout, in which he, in opposition to Berzelius, was a firm believer. Although Dumas and his young pupil published more
doi:10.1039/ct9171100288 fatcat:zx7n2vz6wfexlcdotif25wfhmm