Teaching Science through History II

Acidity: perfect or real?

by John Oversby

This case follows the development of ideas about acidity, beginning with the uniquely dangerous, and possibly fatal, classification based on taste, through its effect, at first, on home-made medicines that were useful as indicators of acidity, and finally searching for the magic ingredient (oxygen or hydrogen?) -- a story that covers many centuries. While the story here ends at Humphrey Davy's idea of replaceable hydrogen atoms, it leaves open development to other ideas. Includes discussion of the ideas of Boyle, Lavoisier, Davy, Bronsted & Lowry, and Lewis.

NOS features include:

  • causal models
  • quantification (measurement)
  • conceptual change (paradigm shifts)
  • multiple (inconsistent) models

Go to University of Reading "Acidity" wiki.
See further discussion at HIPST [PDF].

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