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In 1912 another German physicist, Max von Laue, realized that X-rays were scattered and deflected at regular angles when they passed through a copper sulfate crystal, and so he produced the first X-ray diffraction pattern on a photographic film.
A year later William Bragg of Britain and his son Lawrence perceived that such a pattern reflects the layers of atoms in the crystal structure, and they succeeded in determining for the first time the atomic crystal structure of the mineral halite (sodium chloride).
Working at the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D. Experimental petrology, both at the low-temperature range explored by van ’t Hoff and in the high ranges of temperature investigated by Bowen, continues to provide laboratory evidence for interpreting the chemical history of sedimentary and igneous rocks.
Experimental petrology also provides valuable data on the stability limits of individual metamorphic minerals and of the reactions between different minerals in a wide variety of chemical systems.
Jacobus Henricus van ’t Hoff, one of the founders of physical chemistry.
Between 18 he elucidated the complex sequence of chemical reactions attending the precipitation of salts (evaporites) from the evaporation of seawater.
These minerals are common to many igneous and metamorphic rocks.
Such techniques have had an enormous impact on scientific knowledge of Earth history because precise dates can now be obtained on rocks in all orogenic (mountain) belts ranging in age from the early Archean (about 4 billion years old) to the early Neogene (roughly 20 million years old).
Another technological development is the ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer), which is able to provide the isotopic age of the minerals zircon, titanite, rutile, and monazite.
These discoveries had a long-lasting influence on crystallography because they led to the development of the X-ray powder diffractometer, which is now widely used to identify minerals and to ascertain their crystal structure.
Advanced analytic chemical equipment has revolutionized the understanding of the composition of rocks and minerals.
With all these deformation experiments, it is necessary to scale down as precisely as possible variables such as the time and velocity of the experiment and the viscosity and temperature of the material from the natural to the laboratory conditions.
In the 19th century crystallographers were able to study only the external form of minerals, and it was not until 1895 when the German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays that it became possible to consider their internal structure.
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Versions of the modern mass spectrometer were invented in the early 1920s and 1930s, and during World War II the device was improved substantially to help in the development of the atomic bomb. By determining the amount of the parent and daughter isotopes present in a sample and by knowing their rate of radioactive decay (each radioisotope has its own decay constant), the isotopic age of the sample can be calculated.