By William R. Newman,Lawrence M. Principe

Winner of the 2005 Pfizer Prize from the historical past of technological know-how Society.

 

What really happened within the deepest laboratory of a mid-seventeenth century alchemist? How did he direct his quest after the secrets and techniques of Nature? What tools and theoretical ideas did he employ?

Using, as their consultant, the formerly misunderstood interactions among Robert Boyle, well known as "the father of chemistry," and George Starkey, an alchemist and the main favorite American medical author earlier than Benjamin Franklin as their consultant, Newman and Principe show the hitherto hidden laboratory operations of a well-known alchemist and argue that a few of the rules and practices attribute of contemporary chemistry derive from alchemy. by way of interpreting Starkey's impressive laboratory notebooks, the authors exhibit how this American "chymist" translated the wildly figurative writings of conventional alchemy into quantitative, conscientiously reasoned laboratory practice—and then encoded his personal paintings in allegorical, secretive treatises below the identify of Eirenaeus Philalethes. The fascinating "mystic" Joan Baptista Van Helmont—a favourite of Starkey, Boyle, or even of Lavoisier—emerges from this learn as a shockingly important determine in seventeenth-century "chymistry." a typical emphasis on quantification, fabric creation, and analysis/synthesis, the authors argue, illustrates a continuity of objectives and practices from overdue medieval alchemy all the way down to and past the Chemical Revolution.

For an individual who desires to know the way alchemy used to be really practiced in the course of the clinical Revolution and what it contributed to the improvement of recent chemistry, Alchemy attempted within the Fire might be a veritable philosopher's stone.

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