Sanskrit in scientific terminology

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at
Fri Sep 13 22:38:32 EDT 1996

One should not overlook the possibility that Mendeleev could have learnt 
Sanskrit when he was in Heidelberg, or during his other visits to Europe. 

Between 1859 and 1861, he was studying at the University of Heidelberg. He
attended the famous First Internation Chemical Congress in Karlsruhe in
1860, where he made contacts with French and Italian scientists. He was
very much influenced by Avogadro's pupil, Stanislao Cannizzaro, whom he
met at Karlsruhe. Cannizzaro was responsible for reviving Avogadro's
principle, viz. any gas at the same temperature, pressure and volume has
the same number of particles (atoms or molecules), and extended it to 
gram-molecular weights of all materials, gaseous or otherwise. These ideas
about atomic and molecular weights were significant in the development
of the periodic table. 

Mendeleev returned to St. Petersburg in 1861, but became a professor there
only in 1864. He was in Paris in 1867, organizing the Russian pavilion at
a scientific conference. His final version of the periodic table with its
predictions of as yet unknown elements appeared in 1871. 

S. Vidyasankar

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