The binary conception of compounds held by Berzelius received apparent support from the observations of Gay Lussac, in 1815, on the vapour densities of alcohol and ether, which pointed to the conclusion that these substances consisted of one molecule of water and one and two of ethylene respectively; and from Pierre Jean Robiquet and Jean Jacques Colin, showing, in 1816, that ethyl chloride (hydrochloric ether) could be regarded as a compound of ethylene and hydrochloric acid.
Single binary forms of higher and finite order have not been studied with complete success, but the system of the binary form of infinite order has been completely determined by Sylvester, Cayley, MacMahon and Stroh, each of whom contributed to the theory.
That for the conversion of a fraction into decimals (giving the complete period for all the prime numbers up to 997) is a specimen of the extraordinary love which Gauss had for long arithmetical calculations; and the amount of work gone through in the construction of the table of the number of the classes of binary quadratic forms must also have been tremendous.
This view was accepted in 1817 by Leopold Gmelin, who, in his Handbuch der Chemie, regarded inorganic compounds as being of binary composition (the simplest being oxides, both acid and basic, which by combination form salts also of binary form), and organic compounds as ternary, i.e.
They may thus be fairly regarded as constituting a binary system, though the gravitational attraction between some of the wider pairs must be very weak.
A distinction was formerly made between double stars of which the components were in revolution around each other, and those in which no relative motion was observed; but it is now considered that all double stars must really be binary systems.
Perpetuants.-Many difficulties, connected with binary forms of finite order, disappear altogether when we come to consider the (p1p2p3...) to where form of infinite order.
By assuming the truth of the associative law of multiplication, and taking account of the reducing formulae for binary products, - 'el ' 'e2 ' 'e3 we may construct derived units of the third, fourth ...
These facilities, coupled with the wide and fascinating field of research opened up by Sir William Herschel's discovery of the binary character of double stars, gave an impulse to micrometric research which has continued unabated to the present time.
The nomenclature of acids follows the same general lines as that for binary compounds.