Atoms and Alchemy

Atoms and Alchemy

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Since the Enlightenment, alchemy has been viewed as a sort of antiscience, disparaged by many historians as a form of lunacy that impeded the development of rational chemistry. But in Atoms and Alchemy, William R. Newmana€”a historian widely credited for reviving recent interest in alchemya€”exposes the speciousness of these views and challenges widely held beliefs about the origins of the Scientific Revolution. Tracing the alchemical roots of Robert Boylea€™s famous mechanical philosophy, Newman shows that alchemy contributed to the mechanization of nature, a movement that lay at the very heart of scientific discovery. Boyle and his predecessorsa€”figures like the mysterious medieval Geber or the Lutheran professor Daniel Sennerta€”provided convincing experimental proof that matter is made up of enduring particles at the microlevel. At the same time, Newman argues that alchemists created the operational criterion of an a€œatomica€ element as the last point of analysis, thereby contributing a key feature to the development of later chemistry. Atomsand Alchemy thus provokes a refreshing debate about the origins of modern science and will be welcomeda€”and deliberateda€”by all who are interested in the development of scientific theory and practice.corruptione and serving perhaps as a prolegomenon to Aristotlea#39;s biological works.6 As we have pointed out, the ... the chrysopoetic content of seventeenth- century chymical books and pluck out the elements that seem appealing from the perspective of modern chemistry. ... Chemistry: The Etymological Origins of a Historiographic Mistake, a€ in Early Science and Medicine 3 (1998): 32a€“65, especially pp.

Title:Atoms and Alchemy
Author:William R. Newman
Publisher:University of Chicago Press - 2006-05-15


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