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The Princeton Companion to Mathematics by Imre Leader, June Barrow-Green, Timothy Gowers

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VII.01 Mathematics and Chemistry

Jacek Klinowski end Alan L. Mackay

1 Introduction

Since ARCHIMEDES [VI.3], and his experimental investigation (described by Vitruvius) of the proportions of gold and silver in an alloy, the solution of chemical problems has employed mathematics. Carl Schorlemmer studied the paraffinic series of hydrocarbons (then important because of the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania) and showed how their properties changed with the addition of successive carbon atoms. His close friend in Manchester, Friedrich Engels, was inspired by this to introduce the transformation of “quantity into quality” into his philosophical outlook, which then became a mantra of dialectical materialism. From a similar chemical observation, CAYLEY ...

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