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Vangelis Antzoulatos
Why did Marcellin Berthelot turn away from his successful research in organic synthesis around 1864 to devote himself to the difficult and uncertain path of thermochemistry? Jean Jacques and others have argued that Berthelot's shift can be seen as a result of his flawed understanding of the emerging atomistically based theories of structural chemistry; a sense that he was being left behind by this field, it is maintained, led him to try something different. In contrast, I will argue that thermochemistry was a logical progression of Berthelot's overarching desire to predict chemical action, a great challenge in the middle of the nineteenth century...
November 3, 2018: Ambix
William H Brock
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
October 22, 2018: Ambix
Cornelis J Schilt
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
October 17, 2018: Ambix
Didier Kahn
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
October 5, 2018: Ambix
Stephen T Irish
The three mineral species that constitute the common "calamines," or non-sulphurous ores of zinc, were first definitively identified in 1803 by the British chemist and mineralogist James Smithson. The present article proposes a close exegesis of Smithson's argument, which has not previously been studied in any detail. His reasoning integrated chemical, natural historical, and crystallographic considerations, and illustrates important features of the practice of mineral chemistry at this time. Whereas zinc ore was an essential component of the rapidly expanding brass industry, the context for Smithson's work was not commercial, but rather that of mineral collecting and natural history...
November 2018: Ambix
Rafał T Prinke, Mike A Zuber
Based on four extant letters the famous Polish alchemist Michael Sendivogius wrote to Emperor Rudolf II and his first chamberlain Hans Popp between 1597 and 1602, this paper adds to a growing body of revisionist scholarship on alchemy in Rudolfine Prague. Unlike most of his many rivals - including luminaries such as John Dee and Michael Maier - who hoped for the Emperor's patronage in vain, Sendivogius officially became a courtier at the imperial court in 1594. As such he was in the privileged position of having access to the Emperor and his close advisors...
November 2018: Ambix
Seth C Rasmussen
This essay seeks to clarify existing confusion in terminology regarding the history of polymers, plastics, and macromolecules, and explores various factors that complicate the early history of macromolecules. It also suggests reasons why materials such as polyaniline, an early fully synthetic polymer that found widespread commercial application in dyes, have not previously been treated in accounts of polymer history.
November 2018: Ambix
Marieke M A Hendriksen
In the eighteenth century, the use of mineral or fossil substances was relatively common in European medicine and pharmacy. However, this period also saw profound changes in ideas about the nomenclature, chemistry, and curative properties of minerals. Jonathan Simon has recently argued that an increasing orientation towards the mineral kingdom and the chemical transformation of minerals, and a rise in the number of mineral preparations demanded of the pharmacist, were characteristic for eighteenth-century chemistry within pharmacy...
November 2018: Ambix
Peter Murray Jones
This essay reinserts friars into the story of alchemy and medicine in late medieval England. Much of the evidence for the activity of friars, mostly Franciscans, is to be found in a Latin text compiled in 1416-1425, the Tabula medicine. Here friars appear as sources for remedies, and a significant number of these remedies are alchemical. The quintessence found in the writings of John of Rupescissa is used for a variety of medical complaints. Some of the alchemical remedies are selected for closer examination here...
August 2018: Ambix
Andrew Campbell, Lorenza Gianfrancesco, Neil Tarrant
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
August 2018: Ambix
Justin Rivest
This article explores the links between chymical medicine, charity, and vocation in the writings and careers of Henri Rousseau de Montbazon and Nicolas Aignan, known as "the Louvre Capuchins" (les capucins du Louvre) because they operated a royally sponsored medical laboratory at the Louvre from 1678 to 1679. It shows that Rousseau and Aignan's hybrid persona as chymical physicians and mendicant friars allowed them to leverage courtly values surrounding charitable poor relief into lucrative patronage under Louis XIV...
August 2018: Ambix
Lorenza Gianfrancesco
In the early modern period Naples was a European centre of learning where a number of scholars engaged with alchemy. Variously perceived as a legitimate scientific practice or as a mendacious trick for gullible minds, alchemy engaged Neapolitan scholars in an ongoing dispute that involved members of the clergy. In this article I consider convents as research centres mainly engaged with medical alchemy. Specifically, I reconstruct the activity of the Dominican friar Tommaso d'Eremita. Upon his arrival at the Neapolitan convent of Santa Caterina a Formello in 1609, d'Eremita set up a laboratory where he spent years working on alchemical procedures in order to produce an elixir of life for the benefit of all...
August 2018: Ambix
Neil Tarrant
In the latter half of the sixteenth century the Roman Inquisition developed criteria to prosecute a series of operative arts, including various forms of divination and magic. Its officials had little interest in alchemy. During that period the Roman Inquisition tried few people for practising alchemy, and it was rarely discussed in official documents. Justifications for prosecuting alchemists did exist, however. In his influential handbook, Directorium inquisitorum, the fourteenth-century inquisitor Nicholas Eymerich had developed a clear rationale for the investigation and prosecution of alchemists as heretics...
August 2018: Ambix
Mike A Zuber
By the time it was published in 1705, the Speculum Sapientiae claimed to have had a long history going back to 1672. However, the fact that exaggerated stories were commonplace in alchemical literature leads us to question its credibility. This paper explores the secret lives of this alchemical text prior to its print publication to clarify the roles of manuscripts in early-modern alchemy. Specifically, I argue that there were three aspects that could distinguish manuscript from print: provenance, materiality, and exclusivity...
May 2018: Ambix
Ignacio Suay-Matallana, Ximo Guillem-Llobat
This paper describes the resources, scientific spaces, and experts involved in the study of a mass poisoning caused by the drinking of arsenic-contaminated wine exported from Spain to France in 1932. Local and international periodicals record the poisoning of 300 French sailors, and stressed the commercial implications of the case. We discuss the reports prepared by different experts (mainly physicians, agricultural engineers, and customs chemists). Their work was not limited to preparing technical publications or chemical analyses; they also actively defended the quality of their local wine, and played a major role in the discussions regarding the regulation of the international wine market in the 1930s, when new standards regarding the analysis of wine were being considered...
May 2018: Ambix
Andrei Vinogradov, Stanislav Petriashin
This article explores interactions between the chemical industry, the environment, and Russian provincial society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, using the example of the Kokshan chemical works, in the Elabuga District, Viatka Province, Russian Empire (today Mendeleevsk District, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation). The plant's location facilitated its rapid development due to a number of factors, including a cheap labour force, the availability of raw materials, and the absence of local competition...
May 2018: Ambix
Amy Fisher
As a professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, Robert Hare actively shaped early American science. He participated in a large network of scholars, including Joseph Henry, François Arago, and Jacob Berzelius, and experimented with and wrote extensively about electricity and its associated chemical and thermal phenomena. In the early nineteenth century, prominent chemists such as Berzelius and Humphry Davy proclaimed that a revolution had occurred in chemistry through electrical research. Examining Robert Hare's contributions to this discourse, this paper analyzes how Hare's study of electricity and the caloric theory of heat led him to propose a new theory of galvanism...
May 2018: Ambix
Mary Jo Nye, Stephen J Weininger
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
February 2018: Ambix
Michael D Gordin
This essay elaborates on Ursula Klein's methodological concept of "paper tools" by drawing on several examples from the history of the periodic table. Moving from John A. R. Newlands's "Law of Octaves," to Dmitrii Mendeleev's first drafts of his periodic system in 1869, to Mendeleev's chemical speculations on the place of the ether within his classification, one sees that the ways in which the scientists presented the balance between empirical data and theoretical manipulation proved crucial for the chemical community's acceptance or rejection of their proposed innovations...
February 2018: Ambix
Stephen J Weininger
The emergence of physical organic chemistry, which focuses on the mechanisms and structures of organic reactions and molecules using the tools of physical chemistry, was a major development in twentieth-century chemistry. It first flourished in the interwar period, in the UK and then in the US. Germany, by contrast, did not embrace the field until almost a half century later. The great success of classical organic chemistry, especially in synthesis, encouraged indifference to the new field among German chemists, as did their inductivist research philosophy, as enunciated by Walter Hückel's ground-breaking textbook (1931)...
February 2018: Ambix
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