From Alchemy to Chemistry:
Five Hundred Years of Rare and Interesting Books

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rare Book Room Exhibit

WERNER, ALFRED (1866 - 1919). Neuere Anschauungen auf dem Gebiete der Anorganischen Chemie. Braunschweig, 1905.

Although the basic rules that govern the structures of organic compounds had been worked out by the mid-1870's, the structures of inorganic compounds remained confusing and mysterious. Among the most puzzling were the inorganic compounds formed by the reactions of the salts of transition elements. Several theories had been advanced but none was able to account for all the facts. In 1893, a 26 year old Swiss chemist, Alfred Werner, in a flash of inspiration, solved the puzzle. His coordination theory proposed that metal atoms tended to bind other groups in only a few ways, for example, to six groups in an octahedral arrangement or to four groups in a square-planar arrangement. The rest of his life was devoted to proving his theory, and his accomplishments were summarized in his 1905 book Newer Ideas in Inorganic Chemistry. Werner has rightly been called the father of modern inorganic chemistry, and his achievements were recognized by a Nobel Prize in 1913.

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