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The Story of Alchemy and the Beginnings of Chemistry (LibriVox Audiobook)

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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.


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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.

30 review for The Story of Alchemy and the Beginnings of Chemistry (LibriVox Audiobook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    This book traces the development of the science from its beginnings as the mysterious discipline, alchemy, to modern atomic theory highlighting alchemical theory, alchemical elements, and alchemists and Greek thinkers.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

    A good concise history of Alchemy and science in relation to nature.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    I listened to the LibriVox audio recording of this book. Pretty interesting. I like learning about all the old alchemical ideas.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Valentin Chirosca

    It is a pregnant example of the contrast between the scientific and the emotional methods of regarding nature; and it admirably illustrates suggestive, hypotheses, and baseless speculations.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sacapsie

    Heard on Librivox, as read by the wonderful Peter Yearsley. I enjoyed this far more than I would have expected. For anyone who had a reasonably good science education, the "modern" parts of this book will be familiar ground, somewhat outdated of course as this was written in 1902. At that time, they had just discovered radiation--literally seven years before this book, 1895. The implications for understanding matter, atomic structure, and particle physics were profound, and Pattison Muir was cle Heard on Librivox, as read by the wonderful Peter Yearsley. I enjoyed this far more than I would have expected. For anyone who had a reasonably good science education, the "modern" parts of this book will be familiar ground, somewhat outdated of course as this was written in 1902. At that time, they had just discovered radiation--literally seven years before this book, 1895. The implications for understanding matter, atomic structure, and particle physics were profound, and Pattison Muir was clearly doing his best to explain it all in accessible terms. It is hard to tell how accessible this would all be to someone who didn't know things that Pattison Muir does not explain. For example, we know about valency, atomic weights, and what makes an acid an acid (hydrogen cations... wow, I am amazed I remembered which ones were cations and which ones were anions). Ol' P.M. is a bit hazy on this--I do not think this was unknown at the time, but he does not explain it. Perhaps it is not essential to his point. But Pattison Muir is clear and interesting when it comes to alchemy, which of course we would not have covered in our middle school chemistry classes. They just told us that alchemy was a pseud-science, but that the alchemists stumbled upon a few interesting things by accident, and of course that they perfected some of the equipment that is still used in the labs today. Alchemy is of historical and cultural interest, so one generally picks things up about it here and there, but it was good to see a thorough review of the alchemists' philosophy. The blind poking around, working from a theory without any foundation in evidence... it is amazing how long that persisted. Equally amazing are people like Lavoisier, who had the clarity and the careful approach to experimentation that methodically destroyed so many harebrained ideas prevailing at the time, like Phlogiston theory. I remember in our chem classes, when we had to weigh things carefully, contain everything in sealed beakers and such, capture the steam--but we knew about the law of the conservation of matter. The medieval scientists did not. When reading books like this, one is reminded of how many things we take for granted with the benefit of current knowledge. One of Pattison Muir's preoccupations is whether an element can be properly defined except through reference to its properties. I can appreciate the philosophical issue here, but I kept saying to myself, "yes, of course you can define an element independent of its properties... it is a collection of the atoms that have the same structure." I mean, no? I can explain what hydrogen is, without knowing all of its properties (other than, don't try the Hindenburg thing). But, we all have our pet peeves, and this particular one is Pattison Muir's, and he is entitled to it. I chuckled at PM's take on Paracelsus. I went through a little Paracelsus phase, and some of the stuff I read about him was somewhat mystifying. PM made it all a lot clearer. Paracelsus was an alchemist first and foremost, and while he might have been an intuitive and gifted "healer", he was no scientist. He was also a big arrogant asshole, from the sound of it. One gets that sense from other sources, but PM just comes out and says it. Bravo. I think this book should be required reading for all the kids who did not know that the Philosopher's Stone was a real (well, imaginary) thing that existed before J K Rowling wrote her first book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Kirby

    Hilarious and humbling. Each era’s attempt to make sense of the world falls laughably short of what we “know” today which obviously makes you wonder what we currently have laughably wrong. It was very fun to see the progression of atomic theory originating with ancient philosophers, blossoming into modern understanding with many tangents along the way. The book really helps develop an appreciation for the little things that lubricate scientific advancement like the actual scientific method or un Hilarious and humbling. Each era’s attempt to make sense of the world falls laughably short of what we “know” today which obviously makes you wonder what we currently have laughably wrong. It was very fun to see the progression of atomic theory originating with ancient philosophers, blossoming into modern understanding with many tangents along the way. The book really helps develop an appreciation for the little things that lubricate scientific advancement like the actual scientific method or universal acceptance of meaning of even basic words. We have certainly come a long way from the gold-obsessed alchemists of the dark ages.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    A concise history of Alchemy and its transition to chemistry written from the point of view of a scientist at the turn of the 20th century. It gets a bit condescending, but at the time the book was written chemists and physicists had a lot going for them, so its somewhat understandable. The original book was written just 4 years after the discovery of the electron, and the 1913 revisions were made just before the Bohr Model of the atom was theorized. Very cool read and a must for any chemist, ph A concise history of Alchemy and its transition to chemistry written from the point of view of a scientist at the turn of the 20th century. It gets a bit condescending, but at the time the book was written chemists and physicists had a lot going for them, so its somewhat understandable. The original book was written just 4 years after the discovery of the electron, and the 1913 revisions were made just before the Bohr Model of the atom was theorized. Very cool read and a must for any chemist, physicist, and materials engineer!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Munqith Gharib

    Had to repeat certain chapters as I found much of it very confusing, through no fault of the writer. The alchemist's worldview and understanding of matter was all over the place. It felt like reading Dr. Faustus with all that talk about spirits and analogies that likened gold to a king taking his clothes off as he prepares for a swim (chapter 5). Pleasurable reading into the minds of self proclaimed quacks who nevertheless unintentionally (they thought it blasphemous to say that matter had no sp Had to repeat certain chapters as I found much of it very confusing, through no fault of the writer. The alchemist's worldview and understanding of matter was all over the place. It felt like reading Dr. Faustus with all that talk about spirits and analogies that likened gold to a king taking his clothes off as he prepares for a swim (chapter 5). Pleasurable reading into the minds of self proclaimed quacks who nevertheless unintentionally (they thought it blasphemous to say that matter had no spirit) paved the road for the science of Chemistry as it is today.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sandeep Ellawala

    It started off as one of the best non-fiction books I had ever read... and then it started going round and round on one fixated point. It kind of got boring and eventually made me realize that I was not enjoying this book anymore. Back in the days I would have just read through this just so that I had started reading it and I do not want to abandon it. But, No! This is an okay book for an ardent fan of Chemistry, but not for someone simply looking for an enjoyable book for time pass.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Victor Vilchiz

    a good book to learn the basics about alchemy and the beginnings of chemistry. I read it in preparation for my History of Chemistry course.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steven moran

  12. 4 out of 5

    Azizah Myriam

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pierre-Emmanuel

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amber Whitaker

  15. 5 out of 5

    JOHN KLEIMAN

  16. 4 out of 5

    brianfitz

  17. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

  18. 5 out of 5

    Medardo

  19. 4 out of 5

    CR

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  21. 4 out of 5

    Johannes Vriend

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christophere Kartes

  23. 5 out of 5

    pratik gupta

  24. 5 out of 5

    Geary Johns

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peg Keller

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brett

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  28. 5 out of 5

    Estefania Velez

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

  30. 5 out of 5

    bak

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