Advertisement

Historical Introduction

  • C. H. Evans
Part of the Biochemistry of the Elements book series (BOTE, volume 8)

Abstract

In the summer of 1787, Karl Arrhenius, a lieutenant in the Swedish army, chanced upon a new mineral, which he named “ytterbite” after the nearby Swedish town of Ytterby. This book is a descendent of that discovery, which foreshadowed the identification of a new group of elements, the rare earths or lanthanides. (For a discussion of nomenclature, see Section 2.1.) The intervening 200 years have been colorful ones. Owing to the close chemical similarities between the members of the lanthanide series, they resisted easy purification and separation from one another. Numerous misidentifications, false claims, and counterclaims are scattered through the pages of this chapter of chemical history. For a number of years, the existence of the lanthanides challenged the accuracy of Mendeleev’s periodic table of the elements. Taken together, there is enough material here for an historian of science to write an instructive book on the identification of the lanthanides in its own right. For reasons to be discussed below, the biochemical properties of the lanthanides have received increasing attention over the last three decades or so. The brief historical orientation presented below sketches the intellectual route from Arrhenius’s new mineral (Arrhenius, 1788) to this book.

Keywords

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Lanthanum Oxide Historical Introduction Lanthanide Element Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Probe 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Arrhenius, K., 1788. Svenska Akad. Handl. 9:217.Google Scholar
  2. Baehr, G., and Wessler, H., 1909. The use of cerium oxalate for the relief of vomiting: an experimental study of the effects of some salts of cerium, lanthanum, praseodymium, neodymium and thorium, Arch. Intern. Med. 2:517–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barry, C. D., North, A.C.T., Glasel, J.A., Williams, R.J.P., and Xavier, A.V., 1971. Quantitative determination of mononucleotide conformations in solution using lanthanide ion shift and broadening NMR probes, Nature 232:236–245.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Darnall, D. W., and Birnbaum, E.R., 1970. Rare earth metal ions as probes of calcium ion binding sites in proteins, J. Biol. Chem. 245:6484–6488.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Drossbach, G. P., 1897. Über den Einfluss der Elemente der Cerund Zircon gruppe auf das Wachstrum von Bakterien, Zentralbl. Bakteriol. Parsitenkd. Abt. 1. Orig. 21:57–58.Google Scholar
  6. Ekeberg, G., 1797. Svenska Akad. Handl. 18:156.Google Scholar
  7. Evans, C.H., 1989. Two hundred and one years of rare earth elements, Chem. Brit. (In Press).Google Scholar
  8. Gadolin, J., 1794. Kgl. Svenska Vetenskapsakad. Handl. 15:137.Google Scholar
  9. Gladstone, J.H., 1858. On an optical test for didymium, J. Chem. Soc. 10:219–221.Google Scholar
  10. Gschneidner, K. A., and Capellen, J., Eds., 1987. 1787–1987. Two hundred years of rare earths, North-Holland, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  11. Hober, R., and Spaeth, R. A., 1914. Über den Einfluss seltener Erden auf die Konträktilitat des Muskels, Arch. Ges. Physiol. 159:433–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lettvin, J.Y., Pickard, W. F., McGulloch, W. F., and Pitts, W. S., 1964. A theory of passive ion flux through axon membranes, Nature 202:1338–1339.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Marinsky, J.A., Glendenin, L. E., and Coryell, C. D., 1947. The chemical identification of radioisotopes of neodymium and of element 61, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 69:2781–2785.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Mines, G.R., 1910. The action of beryllium, lanthanum, yttrium and cerium on the frog’s heart, J. Physiol. 40:327–345.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Spedding, F.H., 1951. The rare earths, Sci. Am. 1951(Nov.):89–101.Google Scholar
  16. Trifonov, D. N., 1963. The Rare-Earth Elements (translated by P. Basu; R. C. Vickery, ed.), Pergamon Press, New York.Google Scholar
  17. Vickery, R.C., 1953. Chemistry of the Lanthanons, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  18. Weeks, M. E., 1948. Discovery of the Elements, Mack Printing Co., Easton, Pa.Google Scholar
  19. Williams, R.J.P., 1970. Cation and proton interactions with proteins and membranes, Biochem. Soc. Trans. 7:481–509.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. H. Evans
    • 1
  1. 1.The Ferguson LaboratoryUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations