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Crystals and Atoms

Crystals and Atoms

1803–1818

Chapter:
(p.220) Chapter 9 Crystals and Atoms
Source:
Pure Intelligence
Author(s):
Melvyn C. Usselman
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226245874.003.0009

This chapter describes Wollaston’s broadening interests after the chemical business had moved to profitability. He began to move in wider social circles and deepen his expertise in mineralogy and crystallography. He initiated a more quantitative phase of mineralogical studies by the invention of the reflective goniometer, which allowed the measurement of crystal angles to an accuracy of one-tenth of a degree. Wollaston used his goniometer to refute some of the idealized crystal angles accepted by René Just Haüy and went on to propose a theory of crystal structure based on the close packing of spherical and spheroidal particles. In 1818, Wollaston verified and extended François Beudant’s discovery of crystallographic similarities in metallic sulfates, but was unable to anticipate the principles of isomorphism later proposed by Eilhard Mitscherlich.

Keywords:   William Hyde Wollaston, mineralogy, crystallography, reflective goniometer, René Just Haüy, particulate crystal structure, Eilhard Mitscherlich, isomorphism

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