INTRODUCTION AND SURVEY
Our task is to learn the mineral substance as medicinal agents for the living organism and primarily for man. This requires looking over an almost infinite amount of scattered material and arranging it for practical purposes. On the one side we have the psychosomatic unit man who seems to present an enormous diversity in systems of powers, and infinite source of problems which from all our physiochemical, physiologic and psychologic and pathologic interrogation seems to grow ever more complex- on the other side we have the apparently simple natural mineral bodies, indeed the original material. It is the power relationships of these two types of natural forms which we desire to learn. It is logical that we look over at first the simplest, the basic materials or elements from which the entire character of the world accessible to our senses and from which the human body is composed.
THE PERIODIC SYSTEM OF ELEMENTS
Materially considered the entire world is composed of ninety-two elements or, more correctly, the analysis of the world shows ninety-two elements. Of these only two, elements 85 and 87, are unknown. If elements exist of higher atomic weight than uranium which is the 92nd, then it must be assumed that they are still less stable than uranium which is continually in the process of destruction. The newer investigation has pressed to the immediate vicinity of a claim to a complete knowledge of all the elements of the world. But not only the delineation of the diversity of all possible elements and their almost complete knowledge is attained but also the requirement towards unification has been widely accomplished for, in principle, it is plausible from exact atom investigation that these ninety-two elements are composed ultimately of one basic substance, hydrogen, H. Still, at present, this is only of theoretic interest.
The series of elements has become a system through the discovery of a principle of classification. Mendelejeff and Lothar Meyer in 1869 and 1870 arranged the elements then known according to their atomic weights and, by breaking down the series according to seven elements obtained a periodic system. In broad outlines it was thereby shown that the elements whose chemical relationship were then known came to stand under each other as a alkalies lithium, Li, natrium, Na, potassium, K, rubidium, Rb, caesium, Cs, in the first column and the halogens fluorine, F, chlorine, Cl, bromine, Br, iodine, I, in the seventh. But new investigation has brought a final arrangement of the system of elements and also the correct arrangement principle. Thereby the periodic system of elements has become a natural system. Now we finally have certain ground beneath our feet (see Table 1). We call the horizontal series the periods; at the beginning stands a period with only two elements, hydrogen, H, and helium, He; then follows two periods of eight, then two periods of eighteen, then a period of thirty-two. After the great period of thirty-two elements there follows an incomplete period of six remaining elements.
The period numbers of 2,8,18,32 are not an accident but they are connected with the structure of the atom. As is well known, today we believe that the atom consists of a positive nuclear charge around which one or more tracks of negative electrons circulate. Now the period numbers depend on the number of tracks and the number of electrons. Here one need not go into further details.
Nowadays the standard arrangement or division principle is no longer the atomic weight but the so-called ordinal number, which in the table stands over each atom symbol. This ordinal number is equal to the number of positive charge units of the atom nucleus involved. Since the atom nucleus again consists of positive protons and negative nuclear electrons, the ordinal number Z equals the excess of positive protons P over the negative nuclear electrons, E, Z,=P-E. The atomic weight which was formerly the basis of classification is only an approximation function of the true ordinal number. Since the ordinal number represents only a definite positive nuclear excess, the total number of nuclear charges and thereby the atomic weight is not unequivocally demonstrated by this difference. Actually it is known of many elements that in spite of equal ordinal numbers they are still of different composition, and they differ in the total number of charges. One more or one less pair of protons or nuclear electrons allows the ordinal number to remain unchanged, giving a so-called isotope, that is, a type of elements belonging to the same place in the periodic system. The union of such isotopes in which the absolute number of charges is different is actually decisive for the atomic weight of an element. Therefore the atomic weight for oxygen=16 should not be a whole number (see Table 2). But since the chemical separation can go no farther than to the elements and the isotopes are only physical masses, for our consideration the chemical elements remain the ultimate units. But it is indeed possible that the individual isotopes of an element are definitely different for living processes. We do not know. The position number in the periodic system, the ordinal number, or, what is the same, the number of excesses in positive charge units, is the characteristic for each element. Only in few elements is there a spontaneous radiation of nuclear charges, radioactive destruction, with the transmutation of the element to a lower ordinal number and in single ones, an artificial attack on the nucleus has been successful, particularly by destruction with cathode rays.
The ordinal number is the quantitative expression for the property of each element. Likewise the still less accessible structure of the system of charges is certainly of even greater significance. The specificity of an element is to be sought in the number and structure of charges; through them both the speed and the impulse of movement is given so that one might well say: the rhythm of self-radiation of the single elementary atom. By the number of nuclear charges from within will the arrangement of electrons rule out to the outer limit of electron atmosphere as a solar system by its sun. The law by which the atom structure is controlled will be dictated by the size of the nuclear charge through the intervention of electrical attractions and repulsions whose uniform adjustment extends out to the atom periphery.
And this outermost atom periphery is the site of origin of chemical valences. The chemical actions of the atoms are determined by the electrons of the outermost ring and on their number and their arrangement depend the chemical properties of the element. While we see fixed in the nuclear charges, their number and structure, the inner autonomy of the element, we find in the number and arrangement of the outer valence electrons the outward connection of atoms to each other, its combination possibilities and chemical relationships.
The equalities in the outer electron rings of the elements come in to expression in the vertical series or groups of the periodic system. The position in these groups is the standard for the manner of chemical reaction and thereby the chemical similarity of the single elements. These groups of affinity are given compulsorily in the natural erection of the system. A glance over the vertical series of the system on the 8 chief and 7 accessory series and the 3 triads in which Group VIII stands in the middle and moreover the sister group of rare earths informs without further ado that the chemical affinities of the elements in this classification are brought into the correct arrangement. Because of the great significance the periodic system and the chemical kinships have for us, we should devote a brief genetic and general chemical consideration to it.
Let us represent the formation of elements as they must have occurred in the world development. An atom is made out of the one preceding it in the periodic system through addition (or better, inclusion, because it concerns the internal structure) of a hydrogen particle, that is, a nuclear charge unit and an outer electron. In it the number of outer electrons grows only stepwise in the formation of a new element, for the capturing power of the outer ring attains a limit which cannot be surpassed or it could no longer maintain an equilibrium. For reasons of stability further electrons must take a place on a new outer ring. As with the year rings of a tree the ring, outer- most until then, will pass within. Exactly as living organisms can maintain development only in certain forms so there is a law of self-preservation for the development of materials. The difference is merely that in inanimate objects it can be calculated what forms have the best durability and what have not. Then entire idea of the development of the atom rests upon the Bohr atom model conception which is well founded on chemical systematics and spectroscopic facts. We have every reason for the belief that the outermost ring of electrons (or better, electron shell) cannot surpass the number of 8 electrons without losing its stability. But those elements whose outer ring is saturated by 8 electrons are chemically inert and among these is the so-called noble gas helium, He (which, naturally, since it has an ordinal number of only 2, can have only 2 electrons in the outer ring, neon, Ne, argon, Ar, krypton, Kr, xenon, Xe and emanation, Em). This group in our table is designated as the O-group. The noble gases are stable because their outer electron ring is complete, they have no loosely locked electrons which they can detach and no electron hunger. Since they do not enter into chemical reactions, we can leave them out of consideration. Theoretically they interest us as types of electromechanical stability or saturation of the atom form.
The striving after greater stability is the impulse to all chemical combinations in which atoms have a common property, that is, to insure a common electron shell. In order to abolish the compound it requires the application of energy from without, and on the contrary the entrance into a compound in general needs no application of energy and frequently is associated with the giving off of energy. In order to understand the tendencies of the individual elements or their groups for we desire to penetrate into their nature we shall again cast a glance at the periodic system. However, it is better if in place of taking a flat surface as a perfect representation we employ a cylinder or a curved surface. One should place Table 1 as rolled together so that on the surface of the cylinder there is a sequence of the elements in a spiral. It is for this reason that the horizontals are oblique.
The tendencies of affinities of the elements are arranged by the electron status of its outer ring. Let us take, for example, the element sodium with an electron number of 11. The innermost ring has 2 electrons, the middle 8, and the outer ring 1 electron. This single electron tends to be given off from the remaining solid hull. This tendency to give off an electron we call electropositive, because after the departure of the electron, the positive nuclear charge is predominant. Sodium is univalent electropositive. This holds for all the elements of Group I, or the alkali metals in the same way. Let us now take the chlorine atom Cl, with an ordinal number of 17. This has in its outer ring 7 electron. For its stabilization it needs 1 electron, it has an electron hunger of 1, and it is univalent electronegative. One might also say: it is 7 valent electropositive, but the departure of 7 electrons is not as easily effected as the acceptance of 1 electron. Univalent electronegativity is again the characteristic of the entire Group VII the halogens. No wonder that the atoms of Group I and Group VII combine easily and neutralize each other if the medium in which they are present is satisfactory in any way. Group II for example magnesium, Mg, with the ordinal number of 12 has 2 electrons in the outer ring, is divalent electropositive, Group III, trivalent electropositive, Group VI for example sulphur, S, with the ordinal number of 16 lacks 2 electrons of the 8 for stability, so it is divalent electronegative. Also here one might speak of 6 valent electropositivity. Group V is trivalent electronegative, Group III, trivalent electropositive and pentavalent electronegatively, both being of significance for the tendencies to combination. Group IV stands in the middle being tetravalent electropositively and electronegatively.
The electropositive valences can also be designated as oxygen valences as they tend to combine with oxygen, O, as well as the electronegative hydroxyl, OH and the electronegative as hydrogen valences which tend to combine with hydrogen. We see the steplike increase of value or valence in the positive sense from left to right, in the negative sense from right to left. Whether the individual atoms make more use of their positive or their negative valences depends upon the external conditions. It is to be observed that for example the tendency to give off electrons, likewise to charge itself positively, predominates in actuality. This is particularly the case of the elements with higher ordinal numbers. A glance at chemical compounds teaches, for example, that the OH compounds, also the O valence in Groups V and VI are very significant and further the positive 5 and 6 valences are as important as the 3 and 2 valent negativity.
For the giving off or acceptance of valence electrons the cooperation of the medium is essential. In general the discussion will follow the most common agent of solution, water H. OH. Such a medium one calls dielectric and the material which exchanges electrons by its separation (dissociation) through the dielectric medium is called an electrolyte. The charged atoms (or atom complices) thereby arising are called ions, that is wanderers, because they wander through the electrolyte solution by the conduction of an electric current and moreover the positively charged atoms wander to the negative pole, the cathode and the negatively charged to the positive pole, the anode. The positively charged cathode wanderers are therefore called cations and the negatively charged anode wanderers, anions. Yet the ions probably do not develop first as charged atoms by the introduction of an electric current, but their presence, their charge, is the presumption for the conductivity of a solution for an electric current.
The type and stability of union of atoms to molecules determines in the dissociation in water whether the separated ions react with the H plus and the OH- ions of the neutral water and produce a predominance of H plus ions, an acid reaction, acidity or predominance of OH- ions, that is, an alkaline reaction, alkalinity, or whether it will remain in equilibrium with the ions of the water, that is, react as neutral. The number of freed H plus or OH- depending on the type and stability of the compound designates the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a compound. So one speaks of strong or weak acids or bases.
We must mentally review the compounds in inorganic chemistry with their reactions in order to further characterize the elements of the periodic system in detail. Here it is sufficient to outline the broadest tendencies of the elements because after that we may give a preliminary survey of their connections to the organism.
But a special consideration must be given to the middle position of the carbon-group, IV. It is no accident that exactly here the tendency exists for the chemical compounds of the carbon atom to combine with each other, so- called homeopolar compounds while otherwise homonymous charges are repelled. Here, where equally many positive as negative charges are present, an enormous number of compounds take their point of departure which forms the subject of so-called organic chemistry.
COSMIC FREQUENCY OF THE ELEMENTS
So much for the present on the periodic system of elements in general. Now we must consider the elements in their significance for the composition of the world in order to subsequently apply the same consideration to the composition of the organism and the significance of the elements in it. In regard to the participation of elements in the structure of world bodies Harkins has shown two facts worthy of consideration. The first is that in the world composition the elements with even ordinal numbers are significantly predominant over the elements with odd ordinal numbers, in chaotic meteorites about seventy times, in the more differentiated world crust about seven times. For the cosmos in general the rule of the Oddo and Harkins holds that elements of even ordinal numbers are about ten times as frequent as the neighboring elements with odd ordinal numbers. What now is the significance of the even or odd ordinal numbers? As we have seen this proceeds out of the intra-atomic structure, the nuclear structure of the element. One can think of the even- numbered elements as composed purely out of helium particles with an ordinal number of 2, whereas the odd numbered only from helium plus hydrogen particles. The predominance of even-numbered elements in the composition of the world speaks distinctly for their stability in contrast to the odd numbered. It is the same with elements as with living organisms. Their existence or possibility of self-preservation is so much the better, that is, they are more frequently able to maintain themselves the better and they are able to defend themselves against external influences by virtue of their composition. That the helium particle itself is an especially stabile structure is known from other proof and it may be shown mathematically as well.
The second fact is that the first twenty-nine elements of the periodic system are significantly preponderant in frequency throughout the world. These twenty-nine lightest elements form 99.99 per cent of the total content of meteorites and 99.85 per cent of the solid earth crust. But therein the very light elements, lithium, beryllium and boron are quite rare and geochemistry has shown the reason for this in their structure (V. M. Goldschmidt). The elements with higher atomic weights beyond the ordinal number of twenty-nine play a subordinate role in he percentual composition of world bodies. These two facts state: the less complex the atom nucleus is, the sooner its formation occurs and the more frequent its existence. Since one can conceive of the development of elements only according to ordinal numbers it is clear that the elements with lower ordinal numbers predominate ceteris paribus, but only ceteris paribus. So far as they particularly satisfy the requirements of external powers in their stability they will combine the greater part of the available world materials in their form.
Of these two rules of frequency, the second, or rule of weight, has the greater universality. The first, the ordinal number rule will stop with the increasing differentiation of the world from chaos to the earth and its crust to the organism. With the inauguration of chemical affinities new periodicities, as we have seen above in the groups of periodic system, gain in significance for the selection of elements, in other words: the outer electron ring with increasing differentiation of natural bodies annexes influence on the frequency of the elements.
So far as the cosmos is accessible to human observation on the earth, in meteors, in the atmosphere, the sun and stars, not only is the earthly material found everywhere but also the frequency of the elements everywhere finds extensive agreement. Evidence suggesting that the development of elements from hydrogen to uranium has not ended everywhere in the cosmos or that only lighter elements deviating from the earthly ratios appear frequent, has not been found as yet in spite of extensive astrophysical investigations.
GEOCHEMIC DISTRIBUTION LAW
Type and average frequency of elements in the world may be taken as a constant point of departure. The differentiation of the solid structure, like the earth, depends upon the distribution of the elements. The law for this distribution in the earth has been brought to light particularly through the geochemic investigations of V.M. Goldschmidt. Between the theory of distribution of the elements according to their chemical or physiochemical properties and the analytic and experimental findings there exists a remarkable agreement.
The stratification of the earth is primarily the result of a separation of the original molten fluid according to atom-volume (the relation of atomic weight to the specific weight of an element). Niggli has divided the elements into the petrogenous and metallogenous (stone and ore builders). The petrogenous elements prevail in the outer strata of the earth (as oxides and silicates), the metallogenous belong to the deeper strata (chiefly as sulphides and the like). In the periodic system of elements the petrogenous elements belong almost entirely to the chief group, the metallogenous to the accessory group. This is associated with atom volume which is essentially greater in the elements of the chief group than in the elements of the accessory groups. The metallogenous metals form a condensed type of material and therefore their characteristic position in the deeper strata of the earth.
The outermost shell of the earth which chiefly interests us, the lithosphere, is rich in the elements which have a strong affinity for oxygen. Silicates are the chief constituents, next to bound oxygen, calcium, iron, aluminum, magnesium sodium and potassium (lithophile elements). Among the elements of the earth’s crust there also exists a frequency law to which Niggli has drawn attention; the most frequent elements are oxygen, sillicum, calcium and iron with ordinal numbers of 8, 14, 20, 26. This equal difference of six between the ordinal numbers of the most frequent elements of the earth crust must have some connection with the stability of the nucleus. The nuclear structure, by the addition of three helium particles, has obviously obtained a high grade of stability.