pH question!

Phil Harrison arsphys at cc.usu.edu
Wed Dec 22 15:31:44 EST 1999


At 07:30 PM 12/22/99 +0000, you wrote:
 
>  Could someone tell me what the letters pH  Not the
definetion
>or what pH is. I think it means the POWER of HYDROGEN but I am
>not quite sure. 
>vdrake at wgn.net 

You are certainly right that H refers to hydrogen, but power is
not
a term frequently used in chemistry, other than the
mathematical
use indicating exponents (x squared = x to the second power).
I was going to suggest that the "p" might stand for potential,
or
partial, which are both used in referring to concentrations or
amounts.
But then I read in a basic chemistry text the following:

"The p notation to indicate -log is used extensively when
dealing
with small numbers.  The values of Ka, Kb, and Kw are often
listed 
in terms of pKa, pKb, and pKw." 

So I guess p means "-log", which goes right along with the
definition
of pH as the negative log of the hydrogen concentration.  I know
you
said you didn't want the definition, but it seems the definition
is the
answer to your question.

Phil Harrison


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