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Advanced early modern chemistry

Isaac Newton

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Advanced early modern chemistry

Newton spent untold hours of his life practicing alchemy. Like other alchemists, he sought to turn base metals into gold, find a universal cure for disease, and secure the elixir of life, which promised perpetual youth and eternal life. In his garden shed outside his rooms at Trinity College, Cambridge, in the midst of phials and furnaces, mortars and pestles, Newton pored over ancient texts and performed endless experiments. Yet while he never found what he and other alchemists sought, and while he only published one short paper that grew out of his alchemical experiments (a two page speculation on acids), his work was not for naught. As the historian Jed Buchwald has said, As historians have shown in the last several decades, there was a much more profound element to the practice of alchemy which really makes it deserving of being called early modern chemistry. Through his meticulous efforts, Newton greatly furthered the practice and techniques of chemical science.


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