Three Centuries of Chemistry: Phases in the Growth of a Science

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IT is a common complaint that men of science do not write readable books. We hear it especially to-day among those who, despite their complete ignorance of science, are known as “well-educated” people. The complaint is levelled in particular against representatives of physics and chemistry. Naturalists, it is said, have done better; even Darwin's great original contributions to science were issued in the stream of general literature and were intelligible to the non-scientific. The complaint about physicists and chemists has recently grown louder, because educated people know it is in physics and chemistry that great things are happening. It is exasperating to feel that vast horizons of new knowledge are being opened out, that something like a revolution of thought is taking place, and yet not to be able to get some clear notion of it. True, some excellent simple expositions of this new science have been written. They fail, however, because there is nothing to which they can be linked in the mind of a reader with no knowledge of the elementary principles of the old science. Unless he has something like a vista of the chief facts and the chief stages in the development of our knowledge of physies and chemistry, how hopeless it is to give him any conception of what the new knowledge really means!

Three Centuries of Chemistry: Phases in the Growth of a Science.

By Prof. Irvine Masson. Pp. vi + 191. (London: Ernest Benn, Ltd., 1925.) 10s. 6d. net.

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