A Letter from Dalton
Length: 1 Hour or Less
Level: Introductory (majors and non-majors)
Author: Groh, Susan
In this problem students must analyze mass data to test a hypothesis proposed by Dalton as a consequence of his postulates concerning the atomic nature of matter. The analysis is done using only concepts available in 1804, forcing the students to wrestle with the proper way to compare mass data in order to find meaningful relationships among elements. They discover, among other things, the ambiguities associated with writing formulas in the absence of standard atomic masses.