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Dr. Colin Russell, Reader in History of Science, and Dr. David Goodman, Lecturer in History of Science, take as an introductory case study, the discovery of rare gases. They trace the discovery fro...m the work of Henry Cavendish through the theories of William Front, to the discoveries of Baron Rayleigh and William Ramsay. The most important experiments are repeated in period reconstructions of the laboratories of Cavendish and Rayleigh. Dr.Russell points out how improved communication between scientists helped in these discoveries. He also indicates the importance of technology in the form of the spectroscope and apparatus for liquifying air. He concludes that the interdependence of science and technology is a familiar aspect of much scientific advance.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: AST281, Science and the rise of technology since 1800
Item code: AST281; 01
First transmission date: 18-12-1972
Published: 1972
Rights Statement: Rights owned or controlled by The Open University
Restrictions on use: This material can be used in accordance with The Open University conditions of use. A link to the conditions can be found at the bottom of all OUDA web pages.
Duration: 00:24:24
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Producer: Paul Kafno
Contributors: David Goodman; Colin Russell
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Argon; Chemistry; Henry Cavendish; John Strutt Rayleigh; Laboratories; Nitrogen; Spectroscopy; William Prout
Footage description: David Goodman and Colin Russell introduce the programme. Portrait of Henry Cavendish. David Goodman describes Cavendish briefly and moves on to a studio recreation of Cavendish"s laboratory. Cavendish"s work on gases is briefly recounted. David Goodman describes Cavendish"s experiment of 1785 into the phenomena associated with the passing of electric sparks through air. Equipment similar to that which Cavendish used is shown. The experiment is shown by an animated drawing, and is described in detail by David Goodman. Portrait of William Prout. Goodman describes research after Cavendish. He describes Prout"s theory of atomic weights. Portrait of John Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh. Goodman describes how Strutt came to recreate Cavendish"s experiment of a century earlier. A studio mock up of Strutt"s laboratory is shown. Goodman describes Strutt"s experiments in and problems with the measurement of the density of nitrogen. Second portrait of Rayleigh. Portrait of William Ramsay. Photograph of Ramsay in his laboratory. Goodman describes Ramsay"s experiments on nitrogen. Equipment similar to that used by Ramsay is shown. The experiment is recreated in animated drawing. The discovery of argon by Ramsay and Rayleigh is described. Colin Russell describes the growth of the chemical use of spectroscopy. Shot of solar prominence (moving film) An early spectroscope is shown in the studio. Colin Russell describes Ramsay"s repetition of Hillebrand"s experiment resulting in the discovery of helium. Colin Russell discusses the growing dependence of the scientists not only upon each other but also upon technology and sciences apparently apart. Shot of periodic table of 19th century. Russell continues the tale of the discovery of the inert gases. Portrait of Ramsay (Spy cartoon). Shot of air liquefaction apparatus. Shot of liquid air boiling on being poured from a vacuum flask. Colin Russell describes Ramsay"s experiment with liquid air leading to the discovery of crypton. Colin Russell recounts the discovery of further gases, neon, Xenon etc. from analysis of air. The spectroscopic pictures of these gases are shown., This research is linked to the basic problem of chemistry - why substances combine. Colin Russell describes the role of technology in the preceding research and of subsequent research. The progress of science and technology by mutual enrichment is indicated as being one of the main themes of the programmes of the course. Colin Russell reveals that later research shows the inert gases to be not totally inert and he describes how science is a constantly progressing discipline with few opportunities for considering a subject totally complete. Shots of liquid air boiling.
Master spool number: 6HT/70893
Production number: 00525_3029
Videofinder number: 3361
Available to public: no