Chemical Waves and Patterns

Springer Science & Business Media
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The concept of macroscopic waves and patterns developing from chemical reaction coupling with diffusion was presented, apparently for the first time, at the Main Meeting of the Deutsche Bunsengesellschaft fur Angewandte Physikalische Chemie, held in Dresden, Germany from May 21 to 24, 1906. Robert Luther, Director of the Physical Chemistry Laboratory in Leipzig, read his paper on the discovery and analysis of propagating reaction-diffusion fronts in autocatalytic chemical reactions [1, 2]. He presented an equation for the velocity of these new waves, V = a(KDC)1/2, and asserted that they might have features in common with propagating action potentials in nerve cell axons. During the discussion period, a skeptic in the audience voiced his objections to this notion. It was none other than the great physical chemist Walther Nernst, who believed that nerve impulse propagation was far too rapid to be akin to the propagating fronts. He was also not willing to accept Luther's wave velocity equation without a derivation. Luther stood his ground, saying his equation was "a simple consequence of the corresponding differential equation. " He described several different autocatalytic reactions that exhibit propagating fronts (recommending gelling the solution to prevent convection) and even presented a demonstration: the autocatalytic permanganate oxidation of oxalate was carried out in a test tube with the image of the front projected onto a screen for the audience.
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Springer Science & Business Media
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Dec 6, 2012
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Science / Chemistry / Physical & Theoretical
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