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Sir WILLIAM RAMSAY. 



Apropos something said, I asked him " Do you believe 
ill Transmutation?" His reply " WTiy not?" was 
ciiaracteristic. 



Page 49 






Sir WILLIAM RAMSAY 

AS A SCIENTIST AND MAN 



BY 

TARINI CHARAN CHAUDHURI, m.a. 

Professor of Chemistry, Edward College, Pabna; Late Government Research 

Scholar in Chemistry, Bengal; Author of "Modern Chemistry 

and Chemical Industry of Starch and Cellulose," etc. 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

PANCHANAN NEOGI, m.a., Ph.D. 

Professor of Chemistry, Government College, Rajshahi. 




CALCUTTA: 
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PREFACE 

ThIvS short biographical sketch of 
Sir William Ramsay, one of the fore- 
most chemists of the present age, is 
published with the hope that it may be 
of some service in getting an estimate 
of the sublime lesson of the life and 
life-work of the British savant within 
a small compass ; and my best thanks 
are due to Professor P. Neogi, of Gov- 
ernment College, Rajshahi, both for 
his suggestion and kindly contributing 
an Introduction. 

I have to thank my friend. Dr. A. C. 
Sarkar, M.A., Ph.D., of the Presi- 
dency College, Calcutta, for kindly 
helping me with some references of 
Ramsay's papers. I am also grateful 
to Sir William Crookes, O.M., F.R.S., 
for his encouraging letter in this 



vi PREFACE. 

connection; and although I had 
sent to him the manuscript of this 
short biography nearly six months 
back, I am afraid it did not reach him 
owing to uncertainty of mails. 

H. F. Preserving Co., T. C. 

MaIvDA, India, 
March 191 7. 



INTRODUCTION 

After the death of Sir William Ram- 
say, I requested mj^ friend and pupil, 
the author of this monograph, to write 
a memorial essay for our College maga- 
zine. As the manuscripts, however, 
reached decent proportions, it was sug- 
gested that he might publish them in 
the form of a monograph, which, I 
hope, would be useful not only to the 
students of chemistry, but also to the 
lay public. Sir William Ramsay had 
been one of the most conspicuous 
figures in the domain of chemistry for 
the last quarter of a century; and a 
narrative of the life and labours of one 
of the makers of modern chemistry 
will prove interesting and instructive 
to all who are interested in the develop- 
ment of modern science. 



viii INTRODUCTION. 

I have always been partial to the 
historical method of teaching a 
science-subject. Ordinary text-books 
give in a connected form the accumu- 
lated results of the work of generations 
of scientists without, however, indicat- 
ing how and when these results were 
achieved by individual workers. The 
acquisition of knowledge of these re- 
sults is no doubt important, but it is 
infinitely more important for a student 
to be acquainted with the line of 
thought and methods of work pursued 
by these workers which enabled them 
to arrive at the results. The story of 
the trials and failures of those makers 
of science ultimately leading to a parti- 
cular truth, of the gradual elaboration 
of a particular theory or of experi- 
ments by successive workers in the 
same field, is often more interesting 
than a work of fiction. Such accounts, 
moreover, give a first-hand personal 
contact with the master-minds, who 



INTRODUCTION. ix 

conceived and arrived at truths, and 
help to stimulate the young learners 
with a desire for emulating them 
and following their foot-steps. Sir 
William Ramsay had been one of these 
master-builders of the noble structure 
of modern chemistry ; and I have little 
hesitation in recommending a study of 
his life and work to all eager students 
of science. 

The appendix, containing a list of 
his papers, will be specially useful to 
the more serious student who is 
anxious to read them in original. 

Rajshahi C01.1.EGB, PaNCHANAN NEOGI. 

Rajshahi. 



CONTENTS 



INTRODUCTION vii 

CHAPTER I I 

Early Life, Education and Career. 

CHAPTER II 15 

Researches in pure Organic and Physico- 
organic Chemistry. 

CHAPTER III 18 

Discoveries in Physical and Inorganic 

Chemistry. 

CHAPTER IV 32 

Researches in Radio-activity. 

CHAPTER V .38 

Electrons and Elements. 

CHAPTER VI 44 

Transmutation of Elements. 

APPENDIX 51 

List of Ramsay's Original Papers. 



CHAPTER I. 

EARLY LIFE, EDUCATION AND CAREER. 

The death of Sir William Ramsay, 
perhaps the greatest name in In- 
organic and Physical Chemistry of the 
present age, at the comparatively early 
age of 65 years, has come as a shock 
to the scientific world in general and 
to the chemical world in particular. 
The expert advice of the ripe brain of 
the great chemist in matters chemical 
and industrial would have been of 
sterling service to the English nation 
at a period when the nations of the 
world are involved in the great war. 
The passing away of the brightest 
scientific luminary is a loss to the 
world and a deplorable loss to the 
British Empire, specially at such a 
crisis of its history. 

Sir William Ramsay, who died on 
the 23rd July, 1916, at his own home, 
Beechcroft, near London, was a 



2 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

nephew of the famous British Geo- 
logist, Sir Andrew C. Ramsay, and 
was born at Glasgow on the 2nd of 
October, 1852, the year which wit- 
nessed the death of the Duke of Well- 
ington, the famous hero of Waterloo. 
From 1866 to 1870, William Ramsay 
received his education in his native 
city, and it is probable that he owes 
his first inception of a spirit of original 
investigation to his uncle, who was, 
during his boyhood, an enthusiastic 
scholar of geological researches. 
Leaving school, he entered the Uni- 
versity of Glasgow at the early age of 
thirteen and this fact is an evidence of 
his precocity. He himself, however, 
minimised his own attainments at that 
time. '^ I understood,'' says he, 
*' little Latin and still less Greek. I 
could speak French fairly well, and 
had irregular mathematical know- 
ledge.'' {Proc, Am. Chem. Soc, ^g, 
19, 1917). Here he attended the 



LIFE OF vSIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 3 

lectures of Sir William Thomson (Lord 
Kelvin) and also studied Geology 
under Professor Young. 

In 1869, Ramsay entered the 
laboratory of Robert Tatlock, but this 
was not the beginning of his chemical 
career. Before entering the Univer- 
sity, he had the misfortune of breaking 
a leg in a game of football ; and while 
confined to his house for this accident, 
he read Graham's Chemistry mainly 
with the object of learning how to make 
fire- works. His father also encouraged 
him by giving small quantities of 
materials for this purpose {loc. cit.). 
Being attracted to chemistry, he after- 
wards went to work under the 
renowned Professor R. Fittig in 
the University of Tubingen in 
1 87 1, when the American Profes- 
sor, Ira Remsen, was working 
there as an assistant. He returned to 
Glasgow in 1873, after obtaining the 
degree of Dr. Sci. Nat., and became 



4 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

an assistant in the Young laboratory 
of Technical Chemistry at Anderson's 
College. From 1874, the year in 
which he communicated his prelimi- 
nary note on antimony phosphide to 
the London Chemical Society, Ram- 
say acted as a tutorial assistant in 
Chemistry to Professor Ferguson, of 
Glasgow University, for six years. 
Here, however, he achieved nothing 
that could give promise of great things 
to come. 

But better appointments were soon 
in store for him ; and in 1880, he came 
to occupy the Chair of Chemistry at 
the University College, Bristol, be- 
coming the Principal of that College 
only in the following year. By the 
year 1888, Ramsay was able to create 
some impression in chemical circles in 
England by his researches. In 1887, 
William Ramsay succeeded A. W. 
Williamson, one of the greatest Pro- 
fessors of the time, whose epoch- 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 5 

making researches in the domain of 
Organic Chemistry have been of 
unique service in finally solving the 
long-vexed problems of the constitu- 
tion of alcohol and ether. It is here 
that Professor Ramsay entered upon 
the long march of his scientific career 
till the closing years of his life, and the 
choice of the Professorship of Chemis- 
try at the University College, London, 
now justly fell upon him. 

He occupied the Chair of the Pro- 
fessor of Chemistry in the University 
College for over twenty-six years till 
1913, when he retired as an Emeritus 
Professor of that College. How 
appreciated has been the life-work of 
Sir William Ramsay would be realised 
from a mere mention of some of the 
distinctions, academic degrees, medals 
and more substantial rewards that have 
been showered upon him, not only by 
the British Government, but also by 
the nations of the world. Besides 



6 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

being a Nobel Prize man (1904) and 
Knight Commander of the Bath (1902) 
he was also Commander of the Crown 
of Italy, Knight of the Prussian Order 
Pour le Merite, Ofiicer of the French 
Honour Legion and Honorary Member 
of the Royal Academies of twelve 
countries. Jointly with Lord Ray- 
leigh, he obtained the Le Conte prize 
of 50,000 francs and the Hodgkin's 
prize of 10,000 dollars. 

It is often rightly said that the 
greatness of a teacher is known from 
the success of his pupils and co- 
workers. He was an excellent teacher 
and has started the career of many of 
the present generation of chemists in 
England. Amongst Ramsay's co- 
laborators may be mentioned Cundall, 
Young, Aston, Collie, Travers, Baly, 
Shields, Soddy, Gray and a band of 
other chemists, who are themselves 
well known and occupy high positions 
in scientific life. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 7 

As a writer we find Ramsay, who 
was endowed with a splendid constitu- 
tion and mind, wonderfully busy with 
his pen. He was a voluminous con- 
tributor, the number of his original 
papers being over one hundred and 
twenty-five. Among the books written 
by him are A System of Chemistry 
(1891), The Gases of the Atmo- 
sphere (1896), Theoretical Modern 
Chemistry (1901) and he edited the 
well-known series of works, known as 
the Text-books of Physical Chemistry. 

Ramsay was a man of great experi- 
mental skill, brilliant imagination and 
persistence. He attributed his suc- 
cess in life to what he called ** pegging 
along.'' We would, however, miss 
the real greatness of Ramsay, if we 
look in his publications for a record 
of the man. As a man, he was quite 
amiable and sympathetic, having 
always the welfare of his pupils in his 
heart with whom he worked in hearty 



8 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

co-operation. He was a man of excep- 
tionally good temper, not in the least 
inflated by a consciousness of the 
dignity of his high position.* 

Great as Sir William Ramsay was 
as a scientist, if we confine ourselves 
only to the scientific side of his life, 
we overlook a great lesson of his life. 
He was not a bigoted one-sided man, 
but rather, in the words of Mr. 
Nichols, (/. Ind, Eng, Chem. .YIll., 9, 
1916) *^ a four-square, complete man.'* 
His love for truth was very great, 
without which no one can be a great 
investigator. He realised, as few men 
do, that Chemistry is yet in its infancy, 

*He was an admirably careful correspondent. 
When the present writer was engaged in studying the 
subject of radium-disintegration, finding it impossible 
to solve his doubts {Chem. News, ii6, 3008, 
191 7) by a reference to existing literature on 
the subject, they were referred to Prof. Ramsay, 
who sympathetically gave a prompt reply. Such an 
amount of attention he could give, amidst the pressure 
of his work, to private enquiry from a remote part of 
the world. He often wrote to Professor B. N. Das of 
Dacca, a pupil of Ramsay about twenty-five years back, 
even when travelling in trains. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 9 

and it would be a long time before it 
would even reach the age of manhood. 

One of Ramsay's most charming 
qualities was his simplicity. His mind 
was clean and pure; jealousy and un- 
worthy thoughts could find no place 
there. He had a great appreciation of 
humour and could converse delight- 
fully with anyone, no matter how 
humble might be his walk in life. 

All the fine qualities which went to 
make up the man came to the clearest 
view when he was a victim to a disease 
which left little room for any hope 
of recovery. Acute suffering could 
not dim his courage. To quote from 
Lady Ramsay's last letter to Mr. 
Nichols, *'The courage is not new, 
but the patience is almost heart- 
breaking.'' 

THE WAR AND HIS INDUSTRIAL 
ACTIVITIES. 

During the closing years of his life, 
he was associated with the Synthetic 



lo LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

Rubber Movement, a new industrial 
enterprise pregnant with a great 
future. He keenly felt the lack of 
industrial researches in England, and 
took part in organising committees 
with a view to further the cause. 
During the early stage of the present 
war, he was one of the pioneers to 
identify himself with '* cotton contra- 
band '' and '' alcohol abstinence '* 
movements. 

The far-reaching value of Sir Wil- 
liam Ramsay's radio-active researches, 
which we shall come across in the 
subsequent chapters in Geology, 
Mineralogy and Physiology is import- 
ant. Apart from the purely scientific 
merit of pure researches, Ramsay was 
not blind to the high intrinsic value 
of the problem of the industrial deve- 
lopment of his country. How pre- 
eminently alive to the supreme import- 
ance of scientific training, supervision 
and research for sound industrial deve- 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. ii 

lopment of England he was, is evident 
from the strenuous efiForts he made in 
the columns of the Nature to secure an 
intimate co-operation between Chemis- 
try, Industry and Government. But 
the English educational system, as 
Huxley (1861), Dr. H. E. Armstrong 
(Nature, g4, 213-19, 1914), Dr. W. R. 
Whitney (/. Ind, Eng. Chem., 8ig-22, 
1915) and others have pointed out is 
founded upon classical ideals, and is 
controlled and perpetuated by the vic- 
tims of its method to whom science is 
an intruder upon the curriculum ; and 
to this they attribute England's tardy 
recognition of the supreme value of 
Applied Science; and Ramsay with 
others fought for industrial science 
and co-operation during the closing 
years of his life. 

Even ** the status of chemists in 
Government employment, ' ' Ramsay 
observes (Nature, gs, 309, 1915) '* is 
not such as to induce any young man. 



12 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

who can choose any other profession, 
to devote himself to a career of an 
official chemist/' And he drew up a 
draft-scheme {loc. cit.) of an Advisory 
Council, setting forth the functions of 
such a council and how its members are 
to hie appointed. How Sir William 
Ramsay was taken up with the pro- 
blem of establishing a permanent co- 
operating " organisation for the pro- 
motion of industrial and scientific re- 
search,'' is borne out by the forcible 
address at the annual meeting of Bri- 
tish Science Guild on the ist of July, 
1915 (Nature, gs, 1915) in which 
he strongly commented on the continu- 
ance of the lack of enterprise amongst 
scientific men and indifference of the 
Government. He made the following 
significant and patriotic pronounce- 
ment on this occasion, after giving an 
outline for the scheme of organisation 
of the Royal Society for assistance in 
prosecuting the war to victory. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 13 

He spoke: — ''It is bad policy to 
regret what we might have been ; it is 
much better to try to devise plans to 
make up for lost time; and the first 
essential is organisation. It is notori- 
ous that there is little inter-communi- 
cation between the various Govern- 
ment Departments ; many of them are 
confronted by the same difficulties and 
many of these would be overcome if 
scieiitific advice were asked for; and 
the prime necessity at the present mo- 
ment is the central body of scientific 
men to whom the various Government 
Departments should be compelled to 
apply for advice and assistance. 

'* It is clear that we need no initia- 
tive from members of our Government. 
But we might, as scientific men, 
organise ourselves, and then endea- 
vour to induce the Coalition Govern- 
ment to take such steps as were 
taken by the French Government." 
And it is happy to record that the 



14 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

Government was not slow to rise to the 
situation. In July, Mr. Henderson, 
President of the Board of Education, 
issued a White Paper (Nature, gs, 604, 
1915) outlining a scheme designed 
practically on the lines so strenuously 
advocated by Ramsay and others ; and 
this has been given effect to by the 
establishment of a single responsible 
body, entrusted with the disbursement 
of a considerable fund, consisting of a 
'^ Committee of the Privy Council 
mainly of eminent scientific men, and 
men actually engaged in industries 
dependent on scientific research." 

Such have been, in brief, the 
patriotic duties, the qualities of head 
and heart, of Sir William Ramsay, who 
closed his eyes seeing his country 
plunged in the greatest of wars the 
world has seen and out of which she is 
sure to come out triumphant with 
flying colours, as Ramsay himself pro- 
phetically pronounced. 



CHAPTER 11. 

RESEARCHES IN PURE ORGANIC AND 
PHYSICO-ORGANIC CHEMISTRY. 

The researches of Professor Ramsay, 
which will pass down to posterity and 
are destined not to blush unseen, may 
be roughly classified into three general 
chronological divisions; and it is 
interesting to briefly review the life- 
work of the British savant. His work 
ranges over : — 

(i) Researches in the domains of 
pure Organic and Physico-organic 
Chemistry (1873-1882) ; 

(2) Discoveries in Physical and In- 
organic Chemistry (1883-1903); and 

(3) Researches in radium-emana- 
tions and allied physico-chemical 
problems (1903 till death). 

The early work of Professor Ram- 
say was mainly concerned with Organic 
Chemistry, and he published his re- 
searches on picoline and its derivatives 



i6 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

in 1876-78; he also studied, with 
Dobbie, quinine and its decomposition 
products during the following year, 
and in continuation of that subject was 
engaged later in his work on the 
decomposition of allied alkaloids, — 
quinidine (conquinine), cinchonine and 
cinchonidine by oxidation with per- 
manganate, — researches which have 
been of some service in getting 
an insight into the molecular con- 
stitution of those complicated alka- 
loids in the light of subsequent re- 
searches. He then diverted his atten- 
tion to the study of physico-chemical 
problems relating, at first, to Organic 
Chemistry ; and in this connection he 
studied, for some years, the heat of 
formation of aniline, picoline, tolui- 
dine, glycerine and other compounds, 
and also the molecular volumes of 
benzene, naphthalene, anthracene and 
phenanthrene. But he soon drove 
towards physical problems which 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 17 

peculiarly suited his mind, through a 
phase of some years of physico- 
inorganic researches. It is in the 
latter two spheres of his work that he 
achieved startling results which have 
brought him the glory of a first-rate 
scientific investigator. 



CHAPTER HI. 

DISCOVERIES IN PHYSICAL AND 
INORGANIC CHEMISTRY. 

Coming to the next period of his work 
in Chemistry, we find Professor 
Ramsay's attention taken up with 
questions of Physical and Inorganic 
Chemistry. With Sydney Young and 
others, he investigated the critical 
state and properties of liquids and the 
relationship between their vapour 
pressures and temperature. In con- 
junction with John Shields, he applied 
the measurements of the surface-ten- 
sion of liquids up to the critical point 
for the determination of their mole- 
cular complexity, and invented an 
important apparatus for practical pur- 
poses, which is now familiar to all 
students of Physics and Physical 
Chemistry. And it is hardly meet to 
dismiss his achievements in this direc- 
tion with such a brief reference. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 19 

MendeleeflE had endeavoured to ob- 
tain a relation between surface-energy 
and constitution of liquids, but more 
successful were the investigations of 
Schiff on ^' the molecular surface-ten- 
sion;" but they afforded practically 
no criteria as to the molecular weight 
of the liquid substance. In 1886, how- 
ever, Eotvos, assuming that two 
volumes of liquids may be compared 
when the ratios of the volumes of the 
liquids to the volumes of the saturated 
vapours are the same, deduced that 
yv% (where y represents the surface- 
tension and ^ the molecular volume of 
the liquid) causes all liquids to have the 
same temperature — co-efficient. The 
theorem was now investigated by Ram- 
say and Shields, whose results have 
thrown considerable light on the sub- 
ject of the molecular complexity of 
liquids. Ramsay and Shields suggest- 
ed that there exists an equation for the 
surface-energy of liquids, analogous 



20 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

to the well-known volume-energy 
equation for gases, — namely, Pi^=RT 
and their surface-energy equation as- 
sumes the form y (Mi')^ = KT; where 
y and T represent surface-tension and 
temperature respectively, K is a con- 
stant analogous to R, and equimole- 
cular surface (Mi^)^. They applied 
this method to a large number of homo- 
geneous liquids and have arrived at 
the important result that many 
hydroxylic compounds, including 
water and alcohols, are characterised 
by greater complexity of their mole- 
cules, or molecular association, in 
their liquid state than that represented 
by their molecular formula obtained 
in their gaseous condition, — such as 
(HaO). and (C.H«OH). etc. 

RARE GASES OF THE ATMOSPHERE. 

When asked about the composition 
of air, students of Elementary 
Chemistry may get credit for saying 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 21 

that it contains nitrogen and oxygen ; 
but advanced students would hardly 
be given credit for such an answer, for 
we now proceed to see how Sir William 
Ramsay, Lord Rayleigh and Dr. 
Morris William Travers, the late 
Director of the Indian Institute of 
Science, Bangalore, have startled the 
scientific world by their remarkable 
discoveries of five new gases in the 
atmosphere. Public attention was 
now again directed to the air which 
was, in the language of Ramsay, ** a 
fruitful field of speculation and con- 
jecture for long centuries.*'* 

It is well-known that Lord Rayleigh 
when engaged in studying the densi- 
ties of nitrogen, observed an anomaly 

*It is interesting to note that, in 1897, Ramsay- 
came into possession of only loocc. of liquid air, and 
after most of this had evaporated, the residue was 
investigated resulting in the discovery of the rare 
gases. A little later, however, he undertook experi- 
ments with the residues from the evaporation of 120 
tons of liquid air arriving at the same results without 
obtaining any other new gas. 



22 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

between the densities of nitrogen 
obtained from the atmosphere and 
that which was prepared by the 
decomposition of nitrogen-compounds, 
the density of '* atmospheric ** nit- 
rogen being always and invariably 
higher than his '' chemical nitro- 
gen/' as it was termed. He now 
repeated the historic experiments of 
Cavendish; and on sparking air with 
an excess of oxygen, like that famous 
experimenter, observed a small volume 
of residual gas which would not dis- 
appear on sparking with oxygen, in 
the presence of caustic soda solution. 
He was now struck by the unusual 
character of the spectrum of this resi- 
dual gas. 

It is at this stage that Professor 
Ramsay received the permission of 
Lord Rayleigh to make experiments 
on *' atmospheric '* nitrogen with a 
view to explain its anomalous behav- 
iour. On isolating nitrogen, after 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 23 

removing from air suspended impur- 
ities, moisture, carbon dioxide, am- 
monia and finally oxygen by combin- 
ing it with heated copper, Ramsay was 
surprised by the invariably greater 
density of ** atmospheric " nitrogen, 
although obtained by a method totally 
diflFerent from that of Rayleigh. Sir 
William Ramsay undertook laborious 
experiments by passing the *' atmo- 
spheric '* nitrogen backwards and for- 
wards for ten days over heated magne- 
sium and later over a lime-magnesium 
mixture which more readily removed 
nitrogen, leaving a minute volume of 
gaseous residue of which the spectrum 
was akin to that observed by Rayleigh. 
xA.nd it was early in 1894, that Ramsay 
associated himself with Rayleigh in 
the discovery of what is known as 
'^ argon,'* meaning 'inactive one," 
announced at that year's Annual Meet- 
ing of the British Association, held at 
Oxford in August. This gas was 



24 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

liquefied by Professor Olszewski of 
Cracow in 1895. 

While working in association with 
Rayleigh, Dr. Miers drew Ramsay's 
attention to the work of Dr. Hille- 
brand, of the United States Geological 
Survey, who had noticed, when 
examining the mineral uranite, that 
an inert gas evolved when the mineral 
was decomposed with acid ; and herein 
lay the seed of a discovery which has 
the greatest significant bearing on his 
subsequent researches. Ramsay, re- 
peating these experiments, found that 
the mineral cleivite yielded an inert 
gas which refused, like argon, to be 
oxidised when sparked with oxygen. 
On examining spectroscopically, he 
identified it with the D3 line in the 
spectrum of the solar chromosphere, 
which had been observed by Sir 
Norman Lockyer during a total solar 
eclipse visible in India in 1868, and 
ascribed by him to a hypothetical 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 25 

element, '' helium '' or '' solar one," 
by which name Ramsay now baptised 
his new gas. This gas has subse- 
quently been discovered to be a perma- 
nent member of the atmosphere from 
which it was isolated in 1900. Helium 
is also present in the deep-seated well- 
waters of Italy and even refreshes it- 
self in healthy well of sea-side places 
like Bath, and many mineral waters, 
— a notable fact which will receive far- 
reaching explanation in the light of 
Ramsay's brilliant series of researches 
on disintegration-hypothesis . It is the 
only gas which had hitherto resisted 
all attempts at liquefaction, but has at 
last been compelled to yield at the 
hands of the Russian Professor Kam- 
merlingh Onnes, — the Nobel Prize- 
man of 1910. The magnitude of ex- 
perimental difficulties, which Ramsay 
had to skilfully tide over, may be only 
partially realised if we picture to our 
mind the import of the statement that 



26 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

there is perhaps more gold in the 
ocean than helium in the atmosphere, 
a statement which applies so well to 
the case of xenon. 

After the discovery of helium it 
appeared certain to Professor Ramsay 
that other inert gases of the like yet 
remained to be discovered and his 
reasons for this belief, based on 
periodic arrangement of elements, 
were given in an address before the 
British Association at its meeting held 
at Toronto in 1897 ; in the year 1898, 
his work in conjunction with Dr. 
Morris William Travers with liquid 
air enabled him to announce the exist- 
ence of three other allied inert gases 
in the atmosphere, which have been 
christened — neon (new one), krypton 
(hidden one) and xenon (the stranger), 
by the fractional distillation of liquid 
air, — a method by which the whole host 
of all the five newly discovered mem- 
bers of the atmosphere have been 



LIFE OF vSIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 27 

systematically separated from oxygen 
and nitrogen as well as from each other 
during the years 1897-1900. The dis- 
covery of these gases is an instance of 
the triumph of spectroscopic re- 
searches, as their detection was render- 
ed possible only by their characteristic 
spectrum at first, and then confirmed 
by such other data as boiling point, 
diflEusion, atomic weight, chemical 
inertness, etc. It is therefore clear 
that the tremendous painstaking 
labours of Sir William Ramsay have 
revealed that the atmosphere, in addi- 
tion to the two well-known gases, 
oxygen and nitrogen, contains a band 
of five members, namely, argon, 
helium, neon, krypton and xenon, 
stated in the order of their priority of 
discovery, all of which are chemically 
inert or non-valent, that is, could not 
be made to combine with any other 
element; and they are mon-atomic in 
character which has been conclusively 



28 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

proved by various methods including 
a study of the ratio of the specific heats 
of these gases at constant pressure and 
constant volume. 

POSITION OF THE NEWLY DISCOVERED 
'' NOBEL gases'' IN PERIODIC TABLE. 

Difficulty now arose as how to fit 
in this group of rare gases in 
Mendeleefl's Periodic Table of ele- 
ments; wherein lay the position of 
these gases in the Table? Professor 
Ramsay has over-ridden this puzzle by 
judiciously assigning a place to this 
family of chemically inert rare gases 
of the atmosphere extending the 
Periodic classification and calling it 
admirably the zero group, — a position 
which has rather made Mendeleeff's 
historic table of classification more 
scientifically complete, in as much as 
this arrangement by the insertion of 
valencyless, inert, zero group of ele- 
ments satisfactorily explains the 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 29 

gradual transition of elements from the 
electro-positive to the electro-negative 
scale and vice versa. The group, — 
helium (at. wt. 4), neon (at. wt. 20), 
argon (at. wt. 40), krypton (at. wt. 
82.5) and xenon (at. wt. 130) added to 
it the last member called niton (at. wt. 
222.4) which we shall come across later 
on. All these elements have charac- 
teristic lines in their spectra. For this 
signal service in the cause of Chemis- 
try, Ramsay was now honoured by the 
Nobel Prize* in the year 1904, — the 
highest distinction the world can 

* It may not be out of place here to add a brief 
note on Nobel Prize and a list of its chemist and 
physicist winners. The Nobel Prizes are awarded each 
year from the income of a princely fund bequeathed to 
a body of trustees for distribution to those who have 
contributed most to the common good. The income 
is divided into five shares which are awarded, if a 
proper person is available, to workers in the domains 
of (i) Chemistry, (2) Physics, (3) Medicine or 
Physiology, (4) Literature and (5) the Preservation 
of Peace. The testator was the Swedish engineer 
Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died in 
1896, leaving a large fortune, and the first awards were 
made on the^ fifth anniversary of Nobel's death on 



30 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

confer. ' The new series of ** noble 
gases," as they have been called, 
together forms only 0.937 P^^t by 
volume in 100 volumes of air, and by 
far the greatest portion of the remain- 
ing fractional mixture of the rare gases 
is argon ; the volume of the others put 
together hardly goes to make ^ part 
of that of argon. 



December lo, 1901. A list of the recipients of Nobel 
Prize in Chemistry and Physics up to 191 3, the value 
of each of which is about £8,000, is subjoined: — 



Year. Chemistry. 

1901 ... J. H. Van't Hoff 

1902 ... Emil Fischer 

1903 ... S. A. iVrrhenius 

1904 ... S.W.Ramsay 

1905 ... A. Von Baeyer 

1906 ... Henri Moissan 

1907 ... E. Buchner 

1908 ... E. Rutherford 

1909 ... W. Ostwald 

1910 ' . . . C. Wallach 

1911 ... Mme. Curie 

TOT2 ^^°^- Gri^nard ) 

1912 ... pj.^f Sabatier J 

1913 ... A. Werner 



Physics. 

W. C. Rontgen. 
JH. A. Lorentz. 
tP. Zeeman. 
I Mme. & M. Curie. 
(H. A. Becquerel. 

Lord Rayleigh. 

P. Lenard. 

J. J. Thomson. 

A. A. Michelson. 

G. Lipman. 
(Signor Marconi. 
"^ F. Braun. 

Van der Waals. 

W. Wien. 

G. Dalen. 
K. Onnes. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 31 

At about the time of his receipt of 
the Nobel Prize, the late Mr. Jamsetjee 
Nusserwanjee Tata, the merchant- 
prince of Bombay, who was then pros- 
pecting the establishment of his now 
famous Indian Institute of Science at 
Bangalore and the location of his Iron 
Manufacturing Factory which has 
now become well-known as the 
gigantic works of the Tata Iron and 
Steel Manufacturing Company at 
Sakchi, invited the help of an expert 
chemist from England ; and the Royal 
Society deputed Sir William Ramsay 
to India in response to this invitation* 



CHAPTER IV. 

RESEARCHES IN RADIO-ACTIVITY. 

We now come to the brilliant series 
of Prof. Ramsay's researches in the 
domain of radio-activity which have 
heralded the paradoxical view, al- 
though founded on experimental and 
mathematical basis, that matter is 
ivholly of electrical origin; and while 
engaged in this branch of work, he 
proved in 1903, by spectroscopic 
examination, that the inert gas helium 
which he had discovered in the atmo- 
sphere, is a disintegration-product of 
radium salt, and this fact gave birth 
to his after-idea of transmutation 
of elements by disintegration from a 
metal of higher atomic weight to one 
of lower atomic weight by a process of 
inorganic devolution. Here we shall 
presently see an interesting idea ap- 
parently somewhat parallel to the life- 
aim of the alchemists to convert base 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 33 

metals into gold in ancient days by the 
magic touches of their long-sought-f or 
but never-achieved *' Philosopher's 
Stone.'' 

Sir William Ramsay with Soddy 
published his epoch-making paper on 
the *^ Production of helium from radi- 
um and spectrum of radium emana- 
tion " in 1903-4 and his paper on the 
'' Properties and changes of radium- 
emanation " in 1904,— papers which 
startlingly struck a key-note to the sub- 
sequent developments into his ideas of 
*^ Disintegration hypothesis " and 
'' Transmutation of elements." It is 
Sir William Ramsay, who has shown 
that emanation-gas, first produced 
from the breaking down of atomic 
radium, is a chemically inert element, 
is mon-atomic in nature and that its 
spectrum closely resembles the spectra 
of the rare gases of atmosphere, name- 
ly, those of helium, argon, neon, kryp- 
ton and xenon ; and further, the atomic 



34 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

weight of this gaseous emanation^ 
which he has christened by the name 
niton, led Ramsay to place it below 
xenon in the zero group of the Periodic 
Table. It is interesting to note here, 
as Sir William Crookes, Ruther- 
ford and other workers have con- 
clusively proved that three prin- 
cipal rays, known as alpha (<^h 
beta (y8) and gamma (y) rays, are 
given out by radium. The rays 
which consist of positively charged 
particles are thought to be the helium 
atoms, the electrically negative )8-rays 
resemble the cathode — rays of a high 
vacuum tube, and the y-rays which 
are regarded to be ether pulsations are 
comparable to the X-rays, discovered 
by Rontgen in 1895 and subsequently 
investigated more thoroughly by Bec- 
querel, both of whom are Nobel Prize- 
winners. 

It has been shown besides that 
radium-emanation continuously breaks 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 35 

down, with the evolution of heat- 
energy, successively into 
Radium A-»Radium B-4 Radium C"^ 

Radium F <— Radium <— Radium D 
E, and E^ 

Of these, radium D is supposed to 
be identical with radio-lead or lead, and 
radium F to be polonium. 

It has further been found that the 
metals, uranium and thorium, also give 
out emanations to a greater or less ex- 
tent like those of radium, and that the 
ratio of uranium, radium and lead in 
pitchblende or any other ore in which 
these metals or any two of them are 
present in nature, is almost constant; 
this fact has been of service in study- 
ing the ancestral genealogy of ele- 
ments ; in 1905 Ramsay announced the 
discovery of a new radio-active element 
called radio-thorium. Now arose the 
interesting problem as to the origin of 
radium which is found to continuously 



36 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

transform into other forms of matter. 
If the whole of the earth had been made 
up entirelj^ of radium only 26,000 thou- 
sand years ago its radio-activity, at the 
present day, would have been no great- 
er than what is observed in the pitch- 
blende ore from tons of which the 
Curies got only a few milligrams of 
radium ! As radio-active minerals are 
found to be widely diffused in the 
earth, although in minute quantities, 
the radium would have long before 
been non-existent had there been no 
parent substance which continuously 
would generate radium. And it has 
been advanced that uranium which is 
radio-active and has the highest atomic 
weight of all known elements, is the 
ancestor of radium of which, however, 
the direct parent is ionium to which 
uranium gives birth in the first stage. 
It is easy and interesting to see through 
the small instrument called spinthari- 
scope, invented by Sir William 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 37 

Crookes, the beautifully luminous 
sparks from an infinitely small quan- 
tity of radium salt like the concentrat- 
ed movement and play of myriads of 
glow-worms in a dark night. To sys- 
tematically harmonise these ideas on 
disintegration and to trace the line of 
descent of elements, Sir W. Ramsay, 
in his presidential address before the 
Chemical Society, London, March 26, 
1908, on '^ The electron as an ele- 
ment,'* — a signally important paper, 
expounded that, with the help of the 
electron theory which has an experi- 
mental and mathematical ground, the 
internal nature of the constitution of 
the atoms of elements of all characters, 
— electro-positive, electro-negative and 
inert, the so-called valency of ele- 
ments, the phenomena of chemical 
combination and lastly, the degradation 
of elements from the more complex to 
simpler states, may be satisfactorily 
explained. 



CHAPTER V. 

ELECTRONS AND ELEMENTS. 

For long centuries it was held by 
scientists that what are known as 
chemical elements or units have all 
their origin in one primordial matter. 
Later on, it was supposed that their 
origin is partly material and at least 
partly electrical. But subsequently 
the experiments of Wilson {PhiL 
Trans,, A., 265, 1897) and Kaufmann 
(Phys. Zeit,, 4, 54, 1902) have come to 
show that matter is wholly of electrical 
origin which had been, in other ways, 
suggested by Ostwald as the overthrow 
of scientific materialism [Zeit, Phys. 
Chem., 18, 305, 1895) ; and it is worth- 
while to see the development of the 
electrical conception of the origin of 
matter. 

It is to be noticed that Helmholtz 
gave his assent to the dual character of 
electricity, and Nernst has followed 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 39 

that idea ; and this view, until quite re- 
cently, has been universally accepted. 
But it is to be remembered that 
"' Benjamin Franklin attributed the 
action of electricity to a *' single elec- 
trical fluid '' residing in all bodies and 
capable of passing from one to another. 
The particles of this fluid were sup- 
posed to repel one another, and to be 
attracted by the particles of ponderable 
matter. A positive electrified body 
was imagined by him to be one which 
had a surplus of electrical fluid at- 
tached to it and a negatively electrified 
one, a deficit. '' This theory of Frank- 
lin's mutatis mutandis has gained signi- 
ficance since the epoch-making re- 
searches of J. J. Thomson on the dis- 
charge of electricity through gases, 
and since the discovery of radio-active 
bodies. It has been shown that cor- 
puscles or electrons which are identical 
with the negatively charged /3-rays 
given out by radio-active substances, 



40 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY, 

are *' capable of detaching themselves 
from matter, and of inhabiting space 
unattached to any object. They pass 
from one part of space to another with 
enormous velocity.'* The mass of an 
electron, a term formerly used by 
Stoney and Larmor, has been deter- 
mined by Thomson and his pupils 
(Phil. Mag,, 44, 293, 1897); it does not 
differ much from one-thousandth of 
that of an atom of hydrogen; and 
chemical atoms of matter are now sup- 
posed to be composed of a number of 
electrons arranged in concentric rings 
within a sphere of positive electrifica- 
tion. The difference in the atomic 
weights of the elements with diverse 
properties, e.g., the electro-positive 
alkali group, the electro-negative halo- 
gen family or the inert helium family, 
the periodic appearance of their physi- 
cal and chemical properties and the 
characteristic relation between the 
spectral lines of allied elements, have 



LIFE OF vSIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 41 

all been explained by the number and 
mode of arrangement of the electrons, 
a work which has been partially accom- 
plished by Thomson {Phil. Mag., 7, 

237, 1904). 

IDEAS ON CHEMICAL COMBINATION 
AND VALENCY. 

It, however, remained for Ramsay 
to develop the conception of electron as 
an element and to advance the elec- 
tronic ideas of chemical combination 
{Trans. Chem. Soc, 93^ 774, 1908). 
Various chemists have called the 
mechanism by which the atoms are con- 
ceived to remain associated in a com- 
pound, *' afl&nities '' or *' bonds,'' and 
" valency *' is a word used to express 
the number of such bonds which an ele- 
ment can exercise in any particular 
combination. According to Ramsay's 
views, the electrons are regarded as 
atoms of the chemical element electri- 
city, and may be represented by the 
symbol E. They possess mass; they 



42 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

form compounds with other elements ; 
they are known in the free state, that 
is, as molecules. They serve as 
*' bonds of union between atom and 
atom/* It would be convenient to 
state his electronic views of chemical 
combination by reference to a concrete 
instance, given by Ramsay himself. 

When metallic sodium burns in 
chlorine gas, transparent crystals of 
common salt are produced. '^ If it be 
conceded that salt difiEers from its solu- 
tion only in so far as the mobility of 
the solution permits of transfer of ions, 
the transfer of an electron from the 
sodium to the chlorine must take place 
at the moment of combination . ' ' Sym- 
bolised, if we write E for electron and 
simplify the reaction, dealing for the 
moment with an atom and not with a 
molecule of chlorine, we have 
E Na+Cl=NaECl. 

Here the electron serves as the bond 
between the sodium and the chlorine. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RA]MSAY. 43 

^' If it be desired to form a mental 
picture of what occurs let me suggest," 
says Ramsay, *' a fanciful analogy 
which may serve the purpose : it is 
that an electron is an amoeba-like struc- 
ture, and that E Na may be conceived 
as an orange of sodium surrounded by 
a rind of electron ; that, on combina- 
tion, the rind separates from the 
orange and forms a layer or cushion 
between the Na and the CI ; and that, 
on solution, the electron attaches itself 
to the chlorine in some similar fashion, 
forming an ion of chlorine.'' For the 
vsake of simplicity, Ramsay adopts the 
ordinary symbol of minus sign ( — ) to 
represent the electron in the above 
equation. He has successfully ap- 
plied his electronic ideas of valency to 
the case of complex; cobaltammine nit- 
rites {loc. cit.), a technical survey of 
which is, however, not within the scope 
of this short biography. 



CHAPTER VI. 

TRANSMUTATION OF ELEMENTS. 

In view of the electrical conception' 
of the constitution of matter, based as^ 
it is on some experimental and mathe- 
matical ground, Front's hypothesis of" 
the evolution of elements from the con- 
densation of primordial hydrogen"^' 
which indeed did its services in the 
past, can no longer stand. He held the' 
''protyle '* of the ancients to be rea- 
lised in hydrogen (Ann. of Philosophy, 
6, 321, 1815; ibid,, 7, III, 1816). 

* The atomic weight of hydrogen being unity, the 
atomic weights of all other elements, produced from 
hydrogen, should be integers. After the determination 
of the true value of chlorine, however, to be " midway 
between the two integers, 35 and 36," Marignac 
suggested the tenability of Front's idea by accepting 
half (0.50) as the at. wt. of hydrogen. Later on, 
Dumas went further and proposed the value for 
hydrogen to be reduced to one-fourth (0.250) . It has, 
however, been subsequently found that the Marignac- 
Dumas view was suggested much earlier by Prout 
himself {Trans. Chem. Soc, p. 29, 1893). 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 45 

Ramsay's view has, however, struck a 
totally original note. His conception 
is one of inorganic devolution, — a mar- 
vellous dynamical transformation of 
elements from more complex into 
simpler state. It is here that Ramsay 
has shown the bearing of the electronic 
ideas of composition of elements to his 
conception of transmutation of one 
elementary matter into another. He 
advanced that, in view of the electronic 
conception of the ultimate constitu- 
tion of matter, transmutation of ele- 
ments may be actualised if emission or 
addition of electrons, of which all ele- 
ments are supposed to be composed, 
can be eflFected or controlled by any 
agency; besides effecting transmuta- 
tion at will, spontaneous transforma- 
tion from element to element, accord- 
ing to fundamental ideas of this view, 
is possible if escape of electrons takes 
place (Trans, Chem, Soc, g4, 624, 
1909). 



46 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

We now conclude this brief estimate 
of Prof. Ramsay's researches with a 
brief reference to his work in relation 
to '' Transmutation of elements '' 
which has sometimes been hastily char- 
acterised as the realisation of the al- 
chemical dream, namely, the conver- 
sion of base metals into precious ones. 
But in fact Ramsay's ideas have no 
bearing on the views of the alchemists ; 
for the transformation of some known 
elements into other elements, which 
has recently been observed, has been 
taking place from the dawn of creation 
by a natural process of disintegration 
which is bej^ond human control, — a 
process which is not also reversible. 
The chemists can have the credit of 
only having observed and expounded 
the great natural phenomena, but not 
of having brought about them by a 
known agency over which he has any 
control. It should be clearly stated 
that he has not yet been able to eflFect 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 47 

a doubtless conversion of any known 
element into another known element 
at his own will. 

We have already seen that helium 
is a disintegration-product of radium, 
and have also come across some sup- 
posed cases of change of one element 
into other forms of matter. Nor can 
we here omit reference to Sir William 
Ramsay's announcement which creat- 
ed a considerable sensation in the 
chemical world about the year 1907. 
Having observed that radium or radi- 
um emanation decomposed water into 
hydrogen and oxygen, just like an 
electric current, Ramsay tried the 
effect of emanation on copper sulphate 
solution from which he expected a de- 
posit of metallic copper and a little 
hydrogen if any. He got, in addition, 
the surprising result that, in the pre- 
sence of copper sulphate solution, no 
helium was produced from radium, but 
argon, neon and traces of lithium were 



48 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

detected. These results are, however, 
controversial, as Mme. Curie and M. 
Gleditsch are said to have been unsuc- 
cessful in obtaining lithium on repeat- 
ing the experiments. In his later ex- 
periments Ramsay dissolved electroly- 
tically deposited copper in purified 
'' contact " sulphuric acid and scrupu- 
lously purified water, in reacting plati- 
num or silica vessels, all of which 
when subjected to scrutinizingly spec- 
troscopic examination before treat- 
ment with radium emanation, were cer- 
tified to be pure materials, devoid of 
any trace of the elements which were 
detected after treatment with emana- 
tion ; and in these cases also, he arrived 
at the same experimental results. In 
his subsequent painstaking experi- 
ments, details of which Ramsay gave 
in his presidential address before the 
Chemical Society in 1909, he drove to 
the conclusion of carbon being a de- 
gradation-product of thorium and 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 49 

zirconium by carrying out experiments 
with the nitrates of these metals ; al- 
though the results are striking in the 
extreme, it is, however, premature to 
accept them without qualification, as 
the matter is still sub judice. When, 
however, Mr. Nichols asked Prof, 
Ramsay if he believed in transmuta- 
tion, his reply *' why not '' was char- 
acteristic. 

Sir William Ramsay was the Presi- 
dent of the Seventh International 
Congress of Applied Chemistry which 
held its sittings in London, 1909. He 
became the President of the British 
Association in 1911, and was invited to 
deliver the able '' Moissan Memorial 
Lecture " in 1912. In the following 
year he determined, in conjunction 
with Gray, the atomic weight of 
radium, which is of essential import- 
ance for correctly explaining and 
tracing the line of descent of lead 



50 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

and other degradation-products of 
radium. 

Such have been in brief the labours 
and scientific achievements of Sir 
William Ramsay. Long might he 
have lived to further enrich the 
science which he loved so well and to 
the service of which he devoted his 
whole life. 



APPENDIX 

Ramsay, Preliminary note on antimony phos- 
phide. Ber., 6, 1362, 1874. 

Ramsay, Hydrogen persulphide. J. Chem. 
Soc, Trans., 857, 1874. 

Ramsay and Bottinger, New method of form- 
ing ortho-toluic acid. Am'. Chem. 
Pharm; CLXVIII, 202, 1874. 

Ramsay and Bottinger, Meta-toluic acid. 
Ibid,, 2S^y 1874. 

Ramsay, Sodium ethyl thiosulphate. J. Chem. 
Soc, Trans., 68^, 1875. 

Ramsay, Bismuthiferrous tesseral pyrites. 
J. Chem. Soc, A., 153, 1876. 

Ramsay, Dehydration of hydrates by the lime 
method. J. Chem. Soc, Trans. 395, 
1877. 

Ramsay and Dobbie, Decomposition products 
of quinine; Part I, Oxidation with per- 
manganate. J. Chem. Soc, Trans., 
102, 1878. 

Ramsay and Dobbie, Decomposition products 
of quinine and allied alkaloids; Part II, 
Oxidation with permanganate. J. 
Chem. Soc, Trans., 189, 1879. 



52 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

Ramsay, Picoline and its derivatives. J. 
Chem. Soc, A., 262, 1879. 

Ramsay, Volumes of liquids at their boiling 
points, obtainable from unit volumes of 
their gases. J. Chem. Soc, Trans., 
463, 1879. 

Ramsay, Heat of formation of aniline, 
picoline, toluidine, lutidine, pyridine, 
dipicoline, pyrol, glycerine and furfurol. 
J. Cheni'. Soc, Trans., 696, 1879. 

Ramsay, Critical State of Gases. Proc Roy. 
Soc, 2g, 1881; J. Chem. Soc, A., 971, 
1881. 

Ramsay and Masson, Volumes of Sodium, 
Bromine and Phosphorus. J. Chemi. 
Soc, Trans., 49, 188 1. 

Ramsay, Volumes of some compounds of 
benzene, naphthalene, anthracene and 
phenanthrene series. J. Chem. Soc, 
Trans., 63, 1881. 

Ramsay, Atomic Volume of Nitrogen. J. 
Chem. Soc, Trans., 66, 188 1. 

Ramsay, Critical State of Gases. Proc. Roy. 
Soc, ^o, 323, 1882. 

Ramsay, The Critical Point. Proc Roy. 
Soc, '^i, 194, 1882. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 53 

Ramsay and Evans, Halogen Compounds of 
Selenium. J. Chem. Soc, Trans., 62, 
1884. 

Ramsay and Young, Decomposition of Am- 
monia by Heat. J. Chem. Soc, 
Trans., 88^ 1884. 

Ramsay and Young, Influence of pressure on 

the temperature of volatilisation of 

solutions. Proc. Roy. Soc, s^y 308, 

1884. 
Ramsay and Cundall, Oxides of Nitrogen. J. 

Chem. Soc, Trans., 187, 1885. 
Ramsay and Cundall, Non-existence of gaseous 

nitrous anhydride. J. Chem. Soc, 

Trans., 672, 1885. 
Ramsay and Young, Determination of vapour 

pressures of solids and liquids. J. 

Chem. Soc, Trans., 42, 1885 . 
Ramsay and Young, Method of obtaining con- 
stant temperatures. J. Chem. Soc, 

Trans., 640, 1885. 
Ramsay and Young, Vapour pressure of 

mercury. J. Chem. Soc, Proc, 115, 

1885. 
Ramsay and Young, Influence of change from 

liquid to solid state on vapour pressure. 

Proc. Roy. Soc, 36, 499, 1885. 



54 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

Ramsay and Young, Thermal properties of 
ethyl alcohol. Proc. Roy., Soc, 3<^, 
329, 1885. 

Ramsay, Presence of a reducing agent, pro- 
bably hydrogen peroxide in natural 
water. J. Chem. Soc, Proc, 225, 
1886. 

Ramsay and Williams, Estimation of free 
oxygen in water. J. Chem. Soc, 
Trans., 751, 1886. 

Ramsay and Williams, Supposed existence of 
an allotropic modification of nitrogen. 
J. Chem^ Soc, Proc, 223, 1886. 

Ramsay and Young, Determination of boiling 
points. J. Chem. Soc, Proc, 181, 
1886. 

Ramsay and Young, Nature of liquids as 
shown by a study of the thermal proper- 
ties of stable and dissociable bodies. 
J. Chem. Soc, Proc, 226, 1886. 

Ramsay and Young, The so-called specific 
remission. Ber., 18, 2855, 1886. 

Ramsay and Young, Do the statical and dyna- 
mical methods of estimating vapour- 
pressure give identical results? Ber., 
ig, 69, 1886. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 55 

Ramsay and Young, Statical and dynamical 
methods of estimating vapour pressure. 
Ber., ig, 2107, 1886. 

Ramsay and Young, Vapour pressures of 
mercury. J. Chem. Soc, Trans., 37, 
1886. 

Ramsay and Young, Vapour pressure of 
bromine, iodine, and iodine monochlo- 
ride. J. Chem. Soc., Trans., 453, 
1886. 

Ramsay and Young, Note on the vapour 
densities of chloral ethyl alcoholate. J. 
Chem. Soc, Trans., 685, 1886. 

Ramsay and Young, Evaporation and disso- 
ciation (acetic acid). J. Chem. Soc, 
Trans., 790, 1886. 

Ramsay and Reynolds, Equivalent of zinc. J. 
Chem. Soc, Trans., 854, 1887. 

Ramsay and Young, Thermal properties of a 
mixture of ethyl alcohol and ethyl 
oxide. J. Chem. Soc, Trans., 755, 
1887. 

Ramsay and Young, Nature of liquids as 
shown by a study of thermal properties 
of stable and dissociable substances. 
Phil. Mag., 23, 129, 1887. 



56 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

Ramsaj^ and Young, Continuous transition 
from the liquid to the gaseous state of 
matter at all temperatures. Phil. Mag. , 
(5), 23, 435, 1887. 

Ramsay and Young, Nature of liquids. Chem. 
News, 54, 203, 1887. 

Ramsay and Young, Thermal properties of 
ether. Proc. Roy. Soc., 40, 381, 1887. 

Ramsay, Molecular weights of nitrogen tri- 
oxide and nitrogen peroxide. J. Chem. 
Soc, Trans., 62. 

Ramsay and Young, The mixture of propyl 
alcohol and water. J. Chem. Soc, 
Proc, loi, 1888. 

Ramsay and Young, Evaporation and Con- 
densation. Continuous changes from 
the gaseous to the liquid state at all tem- 
peratures. J. Chem. Soc, A, 18, 1888. 

Ramsay, Molecular weights of metals. J. 
Chem. Soc. Trans., 521, 1889. 

Ramsay, Nitrogen trioxide and peroxide. J. 
Chem. Soc, Trans., 590, 1890. 

Ramsay, Dissociation of selenium chloride. 
Bull. Soc. Chim., (3), 3, 783, 1891. 

Ramsay, Some ideas about solution. Zeit. 
Phys. Chem., j, 511, 1891. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 57 

Ramsay, Only a discussion about the theory of 
solution in which twenty men took part. 
J. Chem. Soc, Abs., 'jS8, 1891. 

Ramsay, Pedectic motion in relation to col- 
loidal solutions. J. Chem. Soc, Proc., 
17, 1892. 

Ramsay and Aston, Atomic weight of boron. 
J. Chem. Soc., Proc, 165, 1892. , 

Ramsay, The combination of dry gases. J. 
Chem. Soc, Proc, 165, 1893. 

Ramsay and Shields, Boiling point of nitrous 
oxide and melting point of solid nitrous 
oxide. J. Chem. Soc, Trans., 833, 
1893. 

Ramsay and Shields, Molecular complexity of 
liquids. J. Chem. Soc, Trans., 1089, 
1893. 

Ramsay, Complexity and dissociation of liquid 
molecules. Proc. Roy. Soc, §6, 171, 
1894. 

Ramsay, Ibid., Zeit. Phys. Chem., 15, 106, 
1894. 

Ramsay, The critical state. Zeit. Phys. 
Chem., 14, 4866, 1894. 

Ramsay, Passage of hydrogen through palla- 
dium septum. Phil. Mag., 3^, 206, 
1894. 



58 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

Ramsay and Shields, Variation of molecular 
surface energy with temperature. Phil. 
Trans., 184, 647, 1894. 

Ramsay and Aston, Molecular surface energy 
o^ mixtures of non-associating liquids. 
Proc. Roy. Soc., s^^ 182, 1894. 

Ramsay and Aston, Ihid., Zeit. Phys. Chem., 
13, 89, 1894. 

Ramsay and Aston, Molecular surface energy 
of ethereal salts. Proc. Roy. Soc, §6, 
162, 1894. 

Ramsay and Aston, Ibid., Zeit. Phys. Chem., 
IS, 98, 1894. 

Ramsay and Aston, Molecular formulae of 
some liquids, as determined by their 
surface-energy. J. Chem. Soc, 
Trans., 167, 1894. 

Ramsay and Baly, Pressure, volume and 
temperature relations of rarefied 
gases. Phil. Mag., 3^, 301, 1894. 

Ramsay, Discovery of helium in cleivite, 
(announced at the annual meeting of 
the Chemical Society). J. Chem. Soc, 
Trans., 1107, 1895. 

Ramsay, A possible compound of Argon. 
Chem. News, 72, 51, 1895. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 59 

Ramsay, Gas showing the spectrum of 
Helium, the reputed cause of D2, one 
of the lines of coronal spectrum. Proc. 
Roy. Soc, 5(^, 65, 1895. 

Ramsay, Helium, a gaseous constituent of 
certain minerals. Part I. Ihid., §8, 
81, 1895. 

Ramsay, Travers and Collie, Helium, a 
const itutent of certain minerals. J. 
Chem. Soc, Trans., 684, 1895. 

Ramsay and Kellas, Examination of gases from 
certain mineral water. . Proc. Roy. 
Soc, S9y 68, 1895. 

Ramsay, Helium, a gaseous constituent of cer- 
tain minerals. Part II. Density. Proc. 
Roy. Soc, sg, 325, 1896. 

Ramsay and Collie, Homogeneity of Argon and 
Helium. Compt. rend., 12^, 214, 1896. 

Ramsay and Collie, Ibid,, Nature, ^4 , 546, 
1896. 

Ramsay and Collie, Argon and Helium. Part 
III. (showing the inactivity of the ele- 
ments). Proc. Roy. Soc, 60, 53, 
1896. 

Ramsay and Collie, Homogeneity of Argon and 
Helium. Proc. Roy. Soc, 60, 206, 
1896. 



6o LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

Ramsay and Collie, Behaviour of Argon and 
Helium when submitted .to electric dis- 
charge. Proc. Roy. Soc., ^g, 257, 1896. 

Ramsay and Marshall, Method of comparing 
directly the heats of evaporation of 
liquids at B.P. Phil. Mag., 41, 38, 
1896. 

Ramsay, Presentation of the Longstaff medal 
to Ramsay (for his discovery of Helium 
and for his share in the investigation of 
Argon) : his statement. J. Chem. Soc, 
Trans., 591, 1897. 

Ramsay and Travers, Refractivities of Air, 
Oxygen, Nitrogen, Argon, Hydrogen 
and Helium. Proc. Roy. Soc, 62 , 225, 
1897. 

Ramsay and Travers, attempts to cause 
Helium or Argon to pass through 
palladium, platinum and iron. Proc 
Roy. Soc, 60, 449, 1897. 

Ramsay and Travers, Constituents of mineral 
substances and natural waters. Proc 
Roy. Soc, 60, 442, 1897. 

Ramsay, Newly discovered gases (Argon series) 
and their relation to Periodic Law. 
Ber. d. deut. Gessel., 37, 3111, 1898. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 6i 

Ramsay and Travers, New atmospheric 
gases. Compt. rend., 126, 1762, 1898. 

Ramsay and Travers, Mineral Fergusonite 
(analysis by Aston). Proc. Roy. Soc, 
62, 325, 1898. 

Ramsay and Travers, Homogeneity of Helium. 
Proc. Roy. Soc, $2^ 316, 1898. 

Ramsay and Travers, Preparation and some 
properties of pure Argon. Proc. Roy. 
Soc, 64, 183, 1899. 

Ramsay and Drugman, Specific gravities of 
the halogens at their boiling points, and 
of oxygen and nitrogen. J. Chem. 
Soc, Trans., 1228, 1900. 

Ramsay and Rudorf, Action of heat on ethyl 
sulphuric acid. J. Chem. Soc, Proc, 
177, 1900. 

Ramsay and Hatfield, Preliminary note on 
Hydrides. J. Chem. Soc, Proc, 152, 
1901. 

Ramsay and Aston, Molecular surface-energy 
of some liquid mixtures. Trans. Roy. 
Irish Acad., 32, 93, 1902. 

Ramsay, Chick and Collingridge, Chemical 
Behaviour of Guttapercha. J. Chem. 
Ind., 21, 1367, 1902. 



62 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

Ramsay, Amounts of Krypton and Xenon in 
atmospheric air. Proc. Roy. Soc, ^i, 
1903. 

Ramsay and Soddy, Production of Helium from 
radium. Proc. Roy. Soc, ^2, 204, 
1903. 

Ramsay and Soddy, Ihid., 73, 346, 1904. 

Ramsay and Steele, Vapour densities of some 
carbon compounds and their molecular 
weights. Zeit. Phys. Chem., 44, 348, 
1903. 

Ramsay, Properties and changes of radium- 
emanation. Compt. rend., 1^8, 1388, 
1904. 

Ramsay, Occurrence of Thorium in Ceylon. 
Nature, 6g, 533, 559, 1904. 

Ramsay and Collie, Spectrum of radium-ema- 
nation. Proc. Roy. Soc, 73, 470, 1904. 

Ramsay, Decomposition of water by radium. 
Meddel. K. Vet. Akad. Nobelinst., i, 
909, 1905. 

Ramsay, A new element, radio-thorium : its 
emanation identical with that of 
thorium. J. Chim. Phys., iii, 617, 
1905. 

Ramsay, Amounts of Neon and Helium in the 
atmospheric air. Proc Roy. Soc, ']6, 
III, 1905. 



LIFE OF vSIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 63 

Ramsay and Spencer, Chemical and Electrical 
changes induced by ultra-violet light. 
Phil. Mag., (Vi). 12, 297, 1906. 

Ramsay, Chemical action of radium-emana- 
tion. Part I (on distilled water). J. 
Chem. Soc, Trans., 931, 1907. 

Ramsay, Selenium Hexa-fluoride. Compt. 
rend., 144, 1196, 1907. 

Ramsay and Cameron, Some properties of 
radium-emanation. J. Chem'. Soc, 
Trans., 1266, 1907. 

Ramsay and Cameron, Chemical action of 
radium-emanation. Part II (on solu- 
tions of copper and lead, and on water). 
J. Chem. Soc, Trans., 1593, 1907. 

Ramsay, Presidential Address (on ** The 
Electron as an Element '') before the 
Chemical Society. J. Chem. Soc, 
Trans., 774, 1908. 

Ramsay, Percentage of inactive gases in the 
atmosphere. Proc Roy. Soc, 80, 599, 
1908. 

Ramsay, Search for new possible members of 
the inactive (Argon) series. Proc Roy. 
Soc, 8iy 178, 1908. 

Ramsay and Cameron, Lithium in radio-active 
minerals. Compt. rend., 146 y 456, 
1908. 



64 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

Ramsay and Cameron, Chemical action of 
radium-emanation. Part III (on water 
and certain gases). J. Chem. Soc, 
Trans., 966, 1908. 

Ramsay and Cameron, Ibid., Part IV (on 
water), 992, 1908. 

Ramsay, Spectrum of Radium emanation. 
Proc. Roy. Soc, 81, 210, 1908. 

Ramsay, Instability of Radium Bromide. 
Monatsh. Chem., 2gy 1013, 1908. 

Ramsay, Presidential Address (on ''The 
Elements and Electrons '*) before the 
Chemical Society. J. Chem. Soc, 
Trans., 624, 1909. 

Ramsay and Usher, Action of Radium emana- 
tion on the elements of the carbon- 
group. Ber. d. deut. Gessel. 42, 
2930, 1909. 

Ramsay and Whytlaw-Gray, Physical Proper- 
ties of Radium emanation. J. Chem. 
Soc, Trans., 1073, 1909. 

Ramsay and Whytlaw-Gray, Liquid and Solid 
Radium emanation. J. Chem. Soc, 
Proc, 82, 1909. 

Ramsay and Whytlaw-Gray, Density of Radi- 
um emanation. Compt. rend., 751, 
126, 1910. 



LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 65 

Ramsay and Whytlaw-Gray, Half -life period 
of Radium. J. Chem. Soc., Trans., 
185, 1910. 

Ramsay, Action of Niton (Radium-emanation) 
on Thorium Salts. Compt. rend., 

Ramsay and Whytlaw-Gray, Density of Niton 
and the Disintegration theory. Proc. 
Roy. Soc, 84, 536, 1911. 

Ramsay, Moissan Memorial Lecture before the 
Chemical Society. J. Chem. Soc, 
Trans., 477, 1912. 

Ramsay, Formation of Neon from Radio-active 
change. J. Chem. Soc, Trans., 1367, 
1912. 

Ramsay, Mon-atomicity of Neon, Krypton 
and Xenon. Proc Roy. Soc, 86 y 100, 
1912. 

Ramsay, The Mineral Waters of Bath. Chem. 
News, los, 133, 1912. 

Ramsay and Masson, Analysis of the Waters of 
the Thermal Springs of Bath. J. Chem. 
Soc, Trans., 1370, 1912. 



66 LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM RAMSAY. 

Ramsay and Whytlaw-Gray, Atomic Weight 
of Radium, (determination of). Proc. 
Roy. Soc, 86y 270, 1912. 

Ramsay, Presence of helium in the gas from 
the interior of an X-ray bulb. J. Chem. 
Soc, Trans., 264, 1913. 



QD Ghaudhurd, Tarini Charan 

22 Sdp William Tfetmsay as a 

R3C5 scientist and man 



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