A Prehistory of Polymer Science by Gary Patterson Carnegie Mellon University

By Gary Patterson Carnegie Mellon University

Polymer technology is now an lively and thriving group of scientists, engineers and technologists, yet there has been a time, now not see you later in the past, whilst there has been no such group. The prehistory of polymer technological know-how is helping to supply key insights into present concerns and ancient difficulties. the tale should be divided into an old interval ( from Greek instances to the construction of the molecular consensus), a nascent interval (from Dalton to Kekule to van’t Hoff) and a interval of paradigm formation and controversy (from Staudinger to Mark to Carothers). The prehistory concludes with an account of the epochal 1935 dialogue of the Faraday Society on “Polymerization”. After this assembly an lively group engaged in attempting to remedy the relevant difficulties outlined by means of the discussions.

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G. Donnan discussed measurements of the electrovalency and osmotic pressure of protein solutions. S. Adair of Cambridge applied the theories of J. Willard Gibbs [6] to protein systems. Proteins diffuse in solution and move in an electric field. Sir Erik K. Rideal (1890–1974, FRS) from Cambridge presented a very thorough discussion of these phenomena. S. S. E. Adair from Cambridge (Fig. 7). The scientific research community of protein scientists could have provided one of the natural homes for polymer science, but the range of paradigms still rampant at that time was large, and the community became rather insular with respect to the more general communities of chemists and physicists.

But, when accurate molecular weights were obtained, and chemical structural models were examined, the measured particle radii were far too small to be due to fully extended rods. Staudinger could synthesize polymers of a wide range of types and sizes, but he had no facility in either mathematics or physics. Real science must either be carried out by polymaths (like James Clerk Maxwell) or better, by multidisciplinary teams. Mark, Polanyi, Kuhn and Guth made a great team. Some polymers are very dense in solution and globular proteins are a good example of such a molecule.

The world of molecular conformational entropy had arrived. Until the general theory of molecules had advanced to the present level, no solid foundation for a molecular science existed. Colloids could remain vague particles, albeit with variable surface charge, but the extremely detailed nature of molecular structure required more powerful microscopic tools. G. 1007/978-3-642-21637-4_4, Ó The Author(s) 2012 43 44 4 Musings on the Prehistory of Polymer Science Early progress in molecular science is exemplified by the work of Michael Faraday.

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