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How do you know that water is H2O?

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Everyone knows that the water is H2O , but how did 19th-century chemists with no access to atoms and molecules discover that fact? When Dalton first published his atomic theory in 1808 he gave the formula of water as HO, and never changed his mind. Within a few years Avogadro gave the H2O formula, but it was promptly rejected and not taken up widely until 50 years later. Why did this take so long, and what changed in the 1860s? It can be instructive to take the simplest things in science and question how we came to know such things.

This talk is part of the Trinity College Science Society (TCSS) series.

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