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Friedrich Kekule and the Benzene Ring
12-01-2008, 11:25 AM, (This post was last modified: 12-01-2008, 01:46 PM by ---.)
Friedrich Kekule and the Benzene Ring
in a time of energy wars, a little story

Quote:During my stay in London I resided in Clapham Road....I frequently, however, spent my evenings with my friend Hugo Mueller....We talked of many things but most often of our beloved chemistry. One fine summer evening I was returning by the last bus, riding outside as usual, through the deserted streets of the city....I fell into a reverie, and lo, the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. Whenever, hitherto, these diminutive beings had appeared to me, they had always been in motion. Now, however, I saw how, frequently, two smaller atoms united to form a pair: how a larger one embraced the two smaller ones; how still larger ones kept hold of three or even four of the smaller: whilst the whole kept whirling in a giddy dance. I saw how the larger ones formed a chain, dragging the smaller ones after them but only at the ends of the chains....The cry of the conductor: "Clapham Road," awakened me from my dreaming; but I spent a part of the night in putting on paper at least sketches of these dream forms. This was the origin of the "Structural Theory. - Friedrich August Kekule

Royston M. Roberts, Serendipidty, Accidental Discoveries in Science, John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY,1989, pp. 75-81.

Quote:Friedrich Kekule and the Benzene Ring

He was not a brilliant chemist nor was he an exceptional teacher, yet Friedreick Kekule is credited with making one of the more amazing chemical discoveries of the time. How did he do it? Through what he called 'a waking dream.'

Kekule was originally a student of architecture but in 1850 he, along with the famous chemist Justus von Liebig, testified at the murder trial of a young maid accused of killing her mistress by setting her body afire. Initially, it was thought that the death of the woman was caused by 'spontaneous combustion' which occured by the victim drinking too much alcohol. Liebig testified that the woman would have died of alcohol poisoning well before she could have drank enough to make her flammable.

Kekule then testified, positively identifying a distinctive ring found in the maid's possession as being the same ring which belonged to the dead woman. What was so distinctive about this ring? It was an unusual design: one of two snakes biting their own tails.

This design would, years later, show up in Kekule's own life. At Kekule's time, scientists believed that the structure of atoms was 'unknowable' as they believed that anything which acted with atoms created a reaction thereby keeping the atomic structure in constant flux. Kekule, however, doubted this hypothesis and spent years studying chemical structure. The exact nature of the structure eluded him until one evening when he let his conscious mind go and allowed his unconscious to take over.

Kekule claims that he stopped writing and dozed off to sleep. He saw atoms whirling and dancing before his eyes. The atoms then began to reassemble themselves into long rows that seemed to move about in a snake-like motion. As he watched the snake dance, the vision progressed until the snake formed itself into an image he had seen years before at the 1850 murder trial: the snake devouring its own tail.

Kekule states that he awoke as if struck by lightning. He realized in a flash that the problem he had worked on for years had been solved not by studying, but by the serendipitous intervention of a dream.

The snake biting its tail is an ancient symbol of alchemy known as the 'ouroboros'.

Ever wondered about the snake on the front cover of this magazine, coiled in a circle with its tail in its mouth?
The snake swallowing its tail is called an ouroboros (Greek for tail-devourer),it's an ancient symbol of wholeness regeneration and the cycles of life which is found ,all over the world.
In alchemy, the ouroboros represents the oneness of the universe. The head biting the tail forms an unbroken circle; having no sides or exits, the circle has always symbolised unity and totality.
Often the ouroboros figure is accompanied by the Greek phrase 'Hen to pan,' which means 'All is one.' This points to the alchemists' belief that all the matter in the cosmos is composed of the same prime material: this was what made possible the transformation of base metal into gold, the purest substance.
The ouro-boros also symbolised the 'prime matter' in the alchemist's laboratory, the stage at which the ingredients are waiting to be purified and transformed. More generally, it signified the potentiality of the universe.
Sometimes the serpent is shown coiling around an egg. Here, the egg symbolises the prime matter while the ouroboros is wrapped around it protectively, like a dragon guarding treasure. This concept, originally developed by the mystical Greek sect of the Orphics (from whom Pythagoras drew inspiration) contains a mixture of symbolism.
The idea of a protective circle is familiar in many contexts, from the practice of magic to old Westerns in which wagons fend off Indian raids by forming an impenetrable circle. In classical mythology, the world was encircled by the river Ocean. Snakes are symbolically associated with water, which in turn has often been seen as the source of life. In Mesopotamian myth, for example, the primordial waters were the domain of Tiamat, the dragon -goddess whose struggle with the god Marduk was dramatised in the epic of Creation.
The scholar Mircea Eliade elaborated the concept of the Eternal Return: the idea that in myth and ritual we return to a sacred time, the point of origin celebrated in creation myths which is also outside space and time and thus eternally present. This is the Dream Time of the Australian Aborigines. The ouroboros is a metaphor for this perpetual quest; finding renewal by recreating the beginning of things.
In the modern West we are taught to view time as linear, beginning in a Big Bang and ending, several billion years hence, possibly in a Big Crunch. But most cultures have seen time as moving in circles, endlessly returning, and the ouroboros embodies this idea on many levels.
In Buddhism it is a symbol of the great cosmic wheel of Samsara. In Egyptian art, it represents the movement of the Sun across the heavens each day. On tombstones, the ouroboros is a symbol of immortality and rebirth.
The ancients understood that life and death are not opposites but, rather, part of the same cycle. In nature, dead matter both plant and animal is the source of nutrients and new life: death is part of life and life depends on death.
Looked at in one way the snake is devouring itself, absorbing its own essence, which seems futile. But look again: in fact a new snake is growing, tail first, from the head of the old.
This is just one of the paradoxes of the ouroboros. Like the Oriental yin-yang symbol, it exemplifies the union of opposites, the dynamic balance between polarities such as life and death, male and female, stasis and change.
The ouroboros reminds us that the universe is a self-sustaining whole. The serpent takes from itself, grows and returns to its point of origin where the cycle begins afresh. It is a diagram of the endless process of absorption and emission that sustains the natural cycles of life - like a river constantly flowing back to its own source.
This isn't merely a symbolic message. These days, when we have learned that the planet resources are finite, the ouroboros might be a mode for sustainable living - a dramatic illustration of recycling!
It is also a symbol of the chthonic energies which flow through the Earth, and of the energy that flows through the human body, which in Indian philosophy is known as kundalini or serpent power and resides at the base of the spine.
Every electrician knows that power has to be earthed and mystical philosophy stresses that the body's energies need to be allowed to flow freely. With the ouroboros, the head biting the tail completes the circuit, permitting the vivifying current to pass.
It's a symbol, too, of wisdom endlessly renewing itself. The snake represents the wisdom of the Earth. The coiled snake is the circle of knowledge in which everything is linked. It demonstrates the ancient belief that knowledge is a unified, indivisible whole - in contrast to the modern tendency for ever narrower fields of specialisation.
The fact that the ouroboros is found throughout the world suggests that it is one of those signs (in Jungian terms, an archetype) that reside in the unconscious and through which concepts are mediated. As an example, take the 19th century German chemist August Kekule who was trying to discover the structure of the benzene molecule (more important than it sounds!). He got nowhere until one night he dreamed of ouroboros. At once he had the answer: the molecule formed itself into a ring.
The ouroboros taps into up ancient roots yet always something new to say. Just like PREDICTION, in fact! [Predictions magazine July 1997 p26]

[Image: ouroboros1106.jpg]
03-29-2009, 01:59 AM,
Friedrich Kekule and the Benzene Ring
Thanks for compiling this.
I haven't been at crystalinks in a long time.
The one goal I carry is to help as many people as possible. People often ask me if I can talk. Many believe that I am a mute. Others regard me as genius.
03-29-2009, 02:24 AM,
Friedrich Kekule and the Benzene Ring
np - I thought it was interesting..
11-22-2012, 02:25 PM,
RE: Friedrich Kekule and the Benzene Ring
“The truth, of course, is that a billion falsehoods told a billion times by a billion people are still false.” Travis Walton
11-22-2012, 02:51 PM,
RE: Friedrich Kekule and the Benzene Ring

the benzene ring is also an important bond in psychopharmica(drugs)
Definition of Democrazy:
Two Volves and a Sheep
trying to agree on what
to have for dinner


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