more from Robin F. Hendry

Single Idea 17477

[catalogued under 27. Natural Reality / F. Chemistry / 2. Modern Elements]

Full Idea

In 1923 elements were defined as populations of atoms with the same nuclear charge (i.e. atomic number), allowing that atoms of the same element may have different masses.

Gist of Idea

Defining elements by atomic number allowed atoms of an element to have different masses


Robin F. Hendry (Chemistry [2008], 'Chem')

Book Reference

'Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science', ed/tr. Psillos,S/Curd,M [Routledge 2010], p.521

A Reaction

The point is that it allowed isotopes of the same element to come under one heading. This is fine for the heavier elements, but a bit dubious for the very light ones (where an isotope makes a bigger difference).