Posted here: March 26, 2001 9:30pm Pacific Time  Latest Update: March 26, 2001 
The following is the approximate text of my talk on Thursday, April 18, 1986 at the 191st American Chemical Society National Meeting in New York City given to one session of the Division of Chemical Education. I wrote it down immediately after the talk and have edited it here for the web:
SpHt = specific heat
AtWt = atomic weight
S%D = standard % deviation
Cp = molar heat capacity at constant pressure
Cv = molar heat capacity at constant volume
* = multiplication operator, "times"
Scientists form hypotheses and, from them, devise experiments to prove their expectations correct. These expectations serve the useful purpose of keeping us from doing experiments which might not lead anywhere. Occasionally, when expectation is too high, things go awry.
In the current book, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" the author tells us of the course of events following Millikan's disclosure of measuring the charge on the electron in his famous oildrop experiment. It seems that Millikan's value was a bit low because he used a value for the viscosity of air which was not quite right. Workers repeating his work in the ensuing years felt satisfied if they measured a value close to Millikan's but would look very critically at any results which were too "high" and, maybe, find some reason to throw out high values. In this way, the value of the electronic charge only rose slowly over the years to the currently accepted value. This is how it goes with expectation: usually it helps us in the laboratory, but sometimes we are lead astray.
Needing a topic for a discovery class suitable for highschool students, I chose the DulongPetit Law.
(SpHt = specific heat; AtWt = atomic weight; Cp = heat capacity at constant pressure)
For Solid Elements:
Alexis T. Petit & Pierre L. Dulong, Ann. chim. phys., 10, 395 (1819).
What I found (graphic to left) were 10 points in a pretty good straight line which DID NOT pass through the origin but gave a small positive ordinate intercept. This was intriguing for it meant that the equation of the line was not the DulongPetit equation but the equation given in the graph below. From this, one can derive the equation for the molar heat capacity and, Cp is not a constant 6 but a nonlinear function (at 298°K) of atomic weight.
Cp 
= 
AtWt

The graphic at the left shows plots at 298°K for the alkalimetal family, lithium through cesium. One can see that the points lie very nicely along a straight line, the actual curvefitting being done by computer. Originally, I began by using the leastsquares method for this but found with low ordinate values, particularly with an element like lithium, that leastsquares would give a rather high %error when comparing the measured value with the estimation from the equation. This happens because leastsquares fits curves by minimizing only the standard deviation. Therefore, I derived equations which minimize the standard%deviation (S%D), and I call this method "least error." If you are interested in using this method, I have a page with the derivation of the equations that you can pick up after the talk.
Using the leasterror method with the alkali metals, one gets a straight line of slope, 0.1319; constant, 0.27; and S%D of 2.3. There is no correlation coefficient for this method yet. The points at the top of the slide on the curved line are the measured Cp values and the line is from my Cp equation from the above table using the given slope and constant. The Cp equation starts at 0 calories at 0 AtWt and rises rapidly going close to all the measured points finally asymptoting at the reciprocal of the slope (1/0.1319). Before getting this far it goes through the principal atomic weight of francium giving a predicted value of 7.52 calories/mole. This value is not likely to be challenged any time soon since all known isotopes of francium have very short halflives.
Below is your "Generic" Periodic Table :
Reiterating, as you go down a file the molar heat capacity increases with increasing atomic weight. As you go across a row from lower to higher atomic weight, at first the heat capacity decreases until you get to the transition metals where Cp changes erratically sometimes rising and sometimes falling. After the transition metals, the Cp again begins to fall. Travelling through the rare earths from lower to higher atomic weights, the Cp falls although the trip is bumpy.
In addition to the lone gas in a family of solids, I have had to exclude both boron and carbon since they do not fall in line with the other elements of their families at 298°K. I will, however, explain very shortly the reason for this.
CALCULUS: OF X Deriving and using the derivative of X 
PURIFY SOLIDS New technique for distilling volatile solids! 
ABOUT PAUL: 
SAN DIEGO: 
HISTORY: 
COMPUTERS: 
MAKING REAL MAPLE FLAVORING: 
SPANISH: 