Paper tools and periodic tables: Newlands and Mendeleev draw grids

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This essay elaborates on Ursula Klein’s methodological concept of “paper tools” by drawing on several examples from the history of the periodic table. Moving from John A. R. Newlands’s “Law of Octaves,” to Dmitrii Mendeleev’s first drafts of his periodic system in 1869, to Mendeleev’s chemical speculations on the place of the ether within his classification, one sees that the ways in which the scientists presented the balance between empirical data and theoretical manipulation proved crucial for the chemical community’s acceptance or rejection of their proposed innovations. This negotiated balance illustrates an underemphasised feature of Klein’s conceptualisation of the ways in which a paper tool generates new knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-51
Number of pages22
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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