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Joseph Le Bel. Portrait of Joseph Achille Le Bel (1847-1930), the French organic chemist who showed that carbon compounds which are chemically ident- ical can be structurally different. In 1874 Le Bel and J. van't Hoff independently published results which showed that the bonds formed by carbon radiated in three dimensions rather than all lying in a plane. This allows different arrangements of atoms within a molecule. The various forms of molecules can have different properties; Le Bel had discovered this effect of stereochemistry because of the way that different forms polarised light. Le Bel spent the rest of his career between his family's factory and a private laboratory.
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