September Dinner Meeting: The Periodic Table by Dr. Eric Scerri

Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The Proud Bird
11022 Aviation Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90045
310 670-3815

The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance

Dr. Eric Scerri
Department of Chemistry & Biochem., UCLA

6:00 p.m. Check-in
7:00 p.m. Dinner
8:00 p.m. Presentation

“Now physics is capable of eating chemistry with a spoon” (Fritz London writing to a colleague in 1927 following the development of quantum mechanics).

Whereas chemistry was regarded as the fundamental science in the 19th century, this role was assumed by physics at the turn of the 20th century. The explanation for the periodic table presents an excellent arena in which to examine the notion that chemistry “reduces” to physics.

The talk, dealing with several such themes from Eric Scerri’s book on the periodic table, will include an examination the notion of “elements” from the time of the Greek philosophers, through Lavoisier and onto Mendeleev and others. Turning to the impact of modern physics the work of Thomson, Bohr, Pauli and Schrodinger will be considered to see the extent to which chemistry is nothing but physics. The wider question of reductionism in the sciences will also be addressed.

Biography: Eric Scerri, obtained all his degrees in the UK, including a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from King”s College, University of London. In 1995 he moved to the US where he has held positions at Caltech and Purdue University. Scerri is the founder-editor of the journal Foundations of Chemistry which is now in its ninth year of publication. His research interests include history and philosophy of chemistry and chemical education. Scerri is the author of over 100 peer- reviewed articles in history and philosophy of science and chemistry education. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at UCLA where he regularly teaches classes of 350 students. Oxford University Press has recently published Scerri’s book, The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance which has been very well reviewed in journals such as The Times Literary Supplement, New York Times, Nature magazine and Journal of Chemical Education. The book has been described as being accessible to the general reader as well as being essential reading for chemical educators and as the definitive treatment of the subject.

Reservations: There is a choice of entree of Marinated Sirloin Steak or Roasted King Salmon. The cost of the dinner is $36.00 per person, cash or check at the door which includes salad, entree, wine with dinner and dessert. Please call Nancy Paradiso in the Section Office at 310 327-1216 or email office-at-scalacs-dot-org by Friday, September 21st, 2007 for reservations. Note: Please honor your reservation. If you make a reservation and do not attend, you will be liable for the cost of the dinner.

Directions: From the I-405 (San Diego Frwy.) northbound: Exit at Imperial Hwy. offramp, turn left onto Imperial, drive west to Aviation Blvd., and turn right onto Aviation. The restaurant is one block ahead on the right. From the I-405 southbound: Exit at Century/Imperial offramp. Remain in the left lane of the two lane exit going south. Exit at the second offramp marked Imperial Hwy. At the end of the ramp, turn left, then immediately right onto Imperial, and drive to Aviation Blvd. Turn right on Aviation. From the 105 Frwy. westbound: Exit at the LaCienega/Aviation offramp. Turn left at the end of the ramp, proceed west to Aviation (next signal) and turn right onto Aviation.