Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of by William R. Newman

By William R. Newman

Because the Enlightenment, alchemy has been considered as a kind of antiscience, disparaged through many historians as a kind of lunacy that impeded the improvement of rational chemistry. yet in Atoms and Alchemy, William R. Newman—a historian largely credited for reviving contemporary curiosity in alchemy—exposes the speciousness of those perspectives and demanding situations broadly held ideals in regards to the origins of the clinical Revolution.

Tracing the alchemical roots of Robert Boyle’s well-known mechanical philosophy, Newman indicates that alchemy contributed to the mechanization of nature, a stream that lay on the very center of clinical discovery. Boyle and his predecessors—figures just like the mysterious medieval Geber or the Lutheran professor Daniel Sennert—provided convincing experimental facts that topic is made of enduring debris on the microlevel. even as, Newman argues that alchemists created the operational criterion of an “atomic” point because the final aspect of research, thereby contributing a key characteristic to the improvement of later chemistry. Atoms and Alchemy thus provokes a clean debate concerning the origins of contemporary technological know-how and may be welcomed—and deliberated—by all who're attracted to the advance of clinical thought and perform.

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646 (Latin, pp. 280–281). 12. Newman, Pseudo-Geber, p. 666 (Latin, p. 328). 13 Geber’s reliance on a laboratory process to determine the practical limits of analysis and, hence, to establish the constituents of other bodies by means of experiment would have profound resonances in the later history of chemistry. We will consider this important point more deeply later. While focusing on the “very strong composition” of the principles, the Summa also refers to another factor responsible for their durability— their uniformis substantia (uniform substance).

Smith and Paula Findlen (New York: Routledge, 2002), pp. 201–222. 39. Principe, Aspiring Adept. Principe is now at work on a monograph on Wilhelm Homberg and his associates at the Acad´emie royale des sciences. A l c h e my i n t h e S c i e n t i f i c R e v o l u t i o n 19 the subject, seem to feel that chymistry was simply not a major contributor to the reformulation of science that heralded the birth of the modern world. My hope is that the present book, by revealing the violent rupture that alchemy helped to precipitate in traditional scholastic matter theory and by outlining the role of this discipline in the formation of the experimental version of the mechanical philosophy, will give cause for reconsideration of the traditional “grand narrative” of the Scientific Revolution.

20 This is simply the process of exposing a metal or other substance to intense heat until it becomes a dry, powdery substance or calx, as described in the case of iron and copper below— on account of their great quantity of earthiness, and large measure of burning, fleeing sulfureity, [iron and copper] are easily brought into a calx by this method. This occurs because the continuity of the quicksilver is broken, due to the abundant earthiness mixed into the substance of the said quicksilver; therefore a state of porosity is created in them, through which the sulfureity, 17.

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