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Origin of Chemistry: the Definition of Flame

Naturevolume 135page916 (1935) | Download Citation



IN a recent publication1 I have shown that practically all the technical achievements on the chemical side which have been credited to the Classical Period, to the Middle Ages, or even (by the least instructed) to our own times, in reality go back to the much earlier civilisations, the crafts of which were largely destroyed by the irruption of the people of the Iron Age, those cruder but better armed ancestors of many of the present inhabitants of Europe.

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  1. 1

    Partington, “Origins and Development of Applied Chemistry”, Longmans, 1935; pp. xii + 597.

  2. 2

    “Beiträge zur Geschichte der Chemie”, 3 parts, Braunschweig, 1869–75; iii, 84. Kopp, ibid., 70, is in error when he says Geber's name is not quoted by Albertus, since Geber Hispalensis is mentioned in “De Mineralibus”, II, ii, 3; but since the passage deals with gems, not alchemy, probably Jabir is not meant.

  3. 3

    Meteororam”, I, iii, 5; IV, iii, 17; Opera omnia, ed. Borgnet, 38 vols., Paris, 1890–99 ; vol. iv, pp. 504, 787.

  4. 4

    “De Coelo”, ii, 4; “Meteorologicorum”, iv, 9; the word, phlogista, occurs frequently in the latter work, for example, ed. Fobes, 1918, 387b ff., and Stahl's views are much less original than is commonly supposed.

  5. 5

    “Meteor.”, IV, iii, 17; Borgnet, iv, 787.

  6. 6

    “Complexionum atque mistionum elementalium figmentum”; Ortus Medicinae, Amsterdam, 1648, p. 106; 2 ed., Venice, 1551, p. 66.

  7. 7

    “Meteororum, III, iii, 4; Borgnet, iv, 643: sicut est videre in ventositate sicca egrediente de ventro hominis: haec enim si per pannum subtilem emittatur, et candela adhibeatur tota inflammatur flamma lata et dispersa; also in “Philosophia Pauperum”, Pars. IV, cap. 17; Borgnet, v, 491: this is the origin of van Helmont's gas pingue.

  8. 8

    Borgnet, xxxvii, 545–573; the text is merely a reprint of that in vol. xxi of the edition of Jammy, Lugduni, 1651, and is obviously based on a very late, 16th cent., manuscript.

  9. 9

    Brit. Mus. Sloane 323, fols. 61 ff.; 14th cent.

  10. 10

    Also extensively used and quoted by Roger Bacon.

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