A Brief History of ChemistryMichael Ridenour
The foundation for much of modern thought was laid in the science and philosophy of ancient Egypt and classical Greece. The chapter will compare ancient and modern and address the changes that led from one to the other. In Egypt: the land of Chem, myth and legend, the three “gifts” of Hermes Trismegistus and the doctrine of “as above so below.” The times change but we share a need to understand the nature of substance with older cultures. The science of substance has a dark side: Frank Oppenheimer’s concern during the making of the first atomic bomb and the blind rush to “get this thing to go.” Contrasts in classical and modern thought, deductive and inductive reasoning. Greek philosophy and parallels to modern thought. Medieval alchemy and the Philosopher’s Stone. Paracelsus the man and scientist. The advent of experimental medicine begins to break free of the philosophical school of science. Becher and the last fires of alchemy. Mithridates, saturated with poison. The ever puzzling mystery of fire gives rise to the theory of phlogiston.