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A History of Science, Volume 4(of 5)_Henry Smith Williams

A History of Science, Volume 4(of 5)_Henry Smith Williams

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 The Project Gutenberg EBook of A History of Science, Volume 4(of 5), byHenry Smith WilliamsThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.orgTitle: A History of Science, Volume 4(of 5)Author: Henry Smith WilliamsRelease Date: November 18, 2009 [EBook #1708]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ASCII*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HISTORY OF SCIENCE, V4***Produced by Charles Keller, and David Widger
A HISTORY OF SCIENCEBY HENRY SMITH WILLIAMS, M.D., LL.D.
ASSISTED BY EDWARD H. WILLIAMS, M.D.IN FIVE VOLUMESVOLUME IV.
 
CONTENTS
 
 I. THE PHLOGISTON THEORY IN CHEMISTRYII. THE BEGINNINGS OF MODERN CHEMISTRYIII. CHEMISTRY SINCE THE TIME OF DALTONIV. ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURYV. ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURYVI. THEORIES OF ORGANIC EVOLUTIONVII. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY MEDICINEVIII. NINETEENTH-CENTURY MEDICINEIX. THE NEW SCIENCE OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGYX. THE NEW SCIENCE OF ORIENTAL ARCHAEOLOGYAPPENDIXBOOK IV. MODERN DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICALSCIENCESAS regards chronology, the epoch covered in the present volume is identical with thatviewed in the preceding one. But now as regards subject matter we pass on to those diversephases of the physical world which are the field of the chemist, and to those yet moreintricate processes which have to do with living organisms. So radical are the changes herethat we seem to be entering new worlds; and yet, here as before, there are intimations of thenew discoveries away back in the Greek days. The solution of the problem of respirationwill remind us that Anaxagoras half guessed the secret; and in those diversified studieswhich tell us of the Daltonian atom in its wonderful transmutations, we shall be remindedagain of the Clazomenian philosopher and his successor Democritus.
 
Yet we should press the analogy much too far were we to intimate that the Greek of theelder day or any thinker of a more recent period had penetrated, even in the vaguest way,all of the mysteries that the nineteenth century has revealed in the fields of chemistry andbiology. At the very most the insight of those great Greeks and of the wonderfulseventeenth-century philosophers who so often seemed on the verge of our later discoveriesdid no more than vaguely anticipate their successors of this later century. To gain anaccurate, really specific knowledge of the properties of elementary bodies was reserved forthe chemists of a recent epoch. The vague Greek questionings as to organic evolution wereworld-wide from the precise inductions of a Darwin. If the mediaeval Arabian endeavoredto dull the knife of the surgeon with the use of drugs, his results hardly merit to be termedeven an anticipation of modern anaesthesia. And when we speak of preventive medicine
 — 
of bacteriology in all its phases
 — 
we have to do with a marvellous field of which noprevious generation of men had even the slightest inkling.All in all, then, those that lie before us are perhaps the most wonderful and the mostfascinating of all the fields of science. As the chapters of the preceding book carried us outinto a macrocosm of inconceivable magnitude, our present studies are to reveal amicrocosm of equally inconceivable smallness. As the studies of the physicist attempted toreveal the very nature of matter and of energy, we have now to seek the solution of the yetmore inscrutable problems of life and of mind.I. THE PHLOGISTON THEORY IN CHEMISTRYThe development of the science of chemistry from the "science" of alchemy is a strikingexample of the complete revolution in the attitude of observers in the field of science. Ashas been pointed out in a preceding chapter, the alchemist, having a preconceived idea of how things should be, made all his experiments to prove his preconceived theory; while thechemist reverses this attitude of mind and bases his conceptions on the results of hislaboratory experiments. In short, chemistry is what alchemy never could be, an inductivescience. But this transition from one point of view to an exactly opposite one wasnecessarily a very slow process. Ideas that have held undisputed sway over the minds of succeeding generations for hundreds of years cannot be overthrown in a moment, unless theagent of such an overthrow be so obvious that it cannot be challenged. The rudimentarychemistry that overthrew alchemy had nothing so obvious and palpable.The great first step was the substitution of the one principle, phlogiston, for the threeprinciples, salt, sulphur, and mercury. We have seen how the experiment of burning orcalcining such a metal as lead "destroyed" the lead as such, leaving an entirely differentsubstance in its place, and how the original metal could be restored by the addition of wheatto the calcined product. To the alchemist this was "mortification" and "revivification" of themetal. For, as pointed out by Paracelsus, "anything that could be killed by man could alsobe revivified by him, although this was not possible to the things killed by God." Theburning of such substances as wood, wax, oil, etc., was also looked upon as the same

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