Department of Mathematics

IDEA: Internet Differential Equations Activities

History of Oscillating Chemical Reactions

History of Oscillating Chemical Reactions

Modern chemists are aware that certain chemical reactions can oscillate in time or space. Prior to about 1920 most chemists believed that oscillations in closed homogeneous systems were impossible. The earliest scientific evidence that such reactions can oscillate was met with extreme scepticism. You can read about the early history and the heated debate surrounding oscillating reactions in several references.

The most famous oscillating chemical reaction is the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction. This is also the first chemical reaction to be found that exhibits spatial and temporal oscillations. You can demonstrate and carry out experiments on this reaction by following recipes to be found in standard references.

Theoretical models of oscillating reactions have been studied by chemists, physicists, and mathematicians. The simplest one may be the Lotka-Volterra model . Some other models are the Brusselator and the Oregonator . The latter was designed to simulate the famous Belousov-Zabotinskii reaction (the BZ reaction for short).

return to contents.

With the advent of HTML5, Javascript is now ready for prime time for mathematical applications. There are new Javascript demos illustrating how we might use interactive web objects to help students learn Calculus.

Department of Mathematics, PO Box 643113, Neill Hall 103, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-3113, 509-335-3926, Contact Us
This project is supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation. Opinions expressed are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the Foundation.
Copyright © 1996-2016 Thomas LoFaro and Kevin Cooper