The chronology of the discovery of the elements is a textbook example of scientific development.
Three phenomena are particularly clear:
- Development is laborious and does not occur linearly or predictably.
- Jumps in knowledge arise from new theoretical concepts, such as the disproving of the phlogiston hypothesis (“the” paradigm shift) or the atomic model of Dalton and the Periodic Table. An equally accelerating effect results from the discovery of new methods, such as electrochemistry, spectral analysis and X.rays.
- Advances in theory and developments in methodology arose mostly from fundamental research. This aspect was decisive for the research output in Europe and should remain so.
Taken from the book: World of the Elements, Elements of the World by Hans-Jürgen Quadbeck-Seeger, 2007, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co, KGaA, Weinheim (Print ISBN: 9783527320653; Online ISBN: 9783527611577)