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Bolton Society Symposia: 2009 August

Named for Henry Carrington Bolton, the Bolton Society encourages and promotes the individual love for and collection of all types of printed material devoted to chemistry and related sciences.

Classic Books in Chemistry VI: The Language of Chemistry

Organizer: James J. Bohning Organizer, Presiding: Ned D. Heindel

Austin M. Patterson: Words About Words and his contributions to nomenclature / John B Sharkey

Early in his long and distinguished career (1876-1956), Austin Patterson recognized the significant, ever-growing need for a better language of chemistry, and he went to work to help in providing such a language. He virtually devoted his life to the development of chemical nomenclature and to fostering good usage. He became widely recognized as the world's leading authority in this field. Perhaps the culmination of his life's work, undertaken during the last five years of his life, was the writing of a regular column in Chemical and Engineering News. This column, entitled “Words about Words” in the beginning and later just labeled “Nomenclature,” was widely read. In 1957, the ACS published e reproduction of his columns. According to E. J. Crane, who wrote the Preface, “This book is produced for use, but it is also offered for memory and for inspiration.” This paper will highlight Patterson's contributions to the field of nomenclature and review some of his more interesting columns.

Metaphorical matter: The language of alchemy / Anke Timmermann

Alchemists wrote down their experiments, theories and observations in their own way long before the concepts of atoms and molecules, chemical formulae and reactions were articulated in the images and formulae familiar to us today. The practice and theory of alchemy were rooted in ancient traditions which had come to the Western world from Egypt, ancient Greece and the Islamic countries. It was believed that the convoluted language of alchemical writings could only be deciphered by initiated alchemists. Altogether, the language of alchemy provides a rather intriguing combination of alchemical information and symbolic expression. How, then, was it possible for alchemists to communicate practical and theoretical knowledge? This talk will discuss alchemy and its symbols with the help of examples (word and image) from the rare book collections in the Othmer Library.

Méthode de Nomenclature Chimique revisited / Carmen J. Giunta

The Méthode de Nomenclature Chimique, published in 1787, provided the basis for the systematic nomenclature of binary inorganic compounds still in common use more than two centuries later. The presentation will examine the component parts of this publication, particularly Lavoisier's memoir that advocated reforming and perfecting chemical nomenclature, Guyton de Morveau's memoir on developing the principles of the proposed systematic nomenclature, and glossaries of chemical names old and new.

Documenting the history of chemical nomenclature and symbolism / William B. Jensen

The talk will review attempts by past chemical historians to document the history of chemical nomenclature and symbolism, ranging from coverage in standard histories of chemistry, such as those by Kopp and by Ihde, to specialized monographs, such as those by Caven and Cranston and by Crosland.

Systematizing chemical nomenclature: IUPAC's Red Book and Blue Book / Roger A. Egolf

One of the original purposes of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry at it foundation in 1919 was the unification of chemical nomenclature. Commissions of IUPAC published reports suggesting standardized nomenclature over many years, but it was not until 1955 that tentative rules for inorganic and organic nomenclature were published in Comptes Rendus. These rules were ratified at the 19th IUPAC Conference in 1957, then published as Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry – 1957, better known as the Red Book; and Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry – 1957, Section A Hydrocarbons, and Section B Fundamental Heterocyclic Systems, better known as the Blue Book. This paper will discuss the process by which these rules were agreed upon and published.

What's in a name? / Natalie Foster

“Organic Chemistry: The Name Game” is a good-humored text that explores the origins of contemporary terms in organic chemistry. The forward to this little gem of a book reminds us that in science, just as in literature, “language does not serve mankind only for communication any more than food serves only for nourishment.” This paper presents a selection of the stories behind the trivial names that are part of the language of organic compounds and chemical concepts. This excursion through the origin of names coined with reference to animals (felicene), architectural elements (peristylane), musical instruments (fidecene), food (sandwich compounds), and even head-coverings (diademane) illuminates the human side of chemistry highlights the strong links between words and pictures (names and shapes) that describe how chemists view the world.

mmCIF: A computer language for the representation of macromolecular structure / Julie B. Ealy

The language of the macromolecular crystallographic information file will be described as presented in: Bourne, P. E., Berman, H. M., McMahon, B., Watenpaugh, K. D., Westbrook, J. D., and Fitzgerald, P. M. D. Methods in Enzymology, 1997, 277, 571-590. The language was developed to extend the Crystallographic Information File (CIF) data representation that is used to describe molecular structure. Visually, aspects of the Protein Data Bank will used to demonstrate various aspects of the language.

Putting it on the line: The Wiswesser line-formula notation system (WLN) / James J. Bohning, Ned Heindel

The effort to reduce chemical structures of any complexity to a single line of letters, numbers and symbols began in the eighteenth century, but did not receive serious attention until the early computer age when in 1949 the IUPAC Commission on Codification, Ciphering, and Punched Card Techniques invited designers to submit their proposals for an internationally suitable notation system. Although IUPAC selected a system developed by G. M. Dyson, it was the WLN that won the most users, primarily through the determined efforts of its founder, William J. Wiswesser, who outlined the principles of the WLN in his 1954 monograph "A Line-Formula Chemical Notation." As Wiswesser explained, the WLN never enjoyed any IUPAC recognition, and had no other official approval. It earned user support “simply because it solved various information-managing needs with less cost and confusion than other internationally recognized alternatives.”

CAS REGISTRY: Its history and principles / Roger J. Schenck

The CAS REGISTRYSM is the master collection of disclosed chemical substance information, with more than 45 million organic and inorganic molecules. This talk will focus on the nature of the CAS REGISTRY® Number as a unique identifier, and the principles and criteria for substances being added to the CAS REGISTRY. Examples will be given illustrating the breadth and depth of the CAS REGISTRY.