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History Of Chemistry Essay

998 words - 4 pages

History of chemistry encompasses a span of time reaching from ancient history to the present. By 1000 BC, ancient civilizations used technologies that would eventually form the basis of the various branches of chemistry. Examples include extracting metals from ores, making pottery and glazes, fermenting beer and wine, extracting chemicals from plants for medicine and perfume, rendering fat into soap, making glass, and making alloys like bronze. The protoscience of chemistry, alchemy, was unsuccessful in explaining the nature of matter and its transformations. However, by performing experiments and recording the results, alchemists set the stage for modern chemistry. The distinction began to emerge when a clear differentiation was made between chemistry and alchemy by Robert Boyle in his work The Sceptical Chymist (1661). While both alchemy and chemistry are concerned with matter and its transformations, chemists are seen as applying scientific method to their work.Chemistry is considered to have become a full-fledged science with the work of Antoine Lavoisier, who developed a law of conservation of mass that demanded careful measurements and quantitative observations of chemical phenomena. The history of chemistry is intertwined with the history of thermodynamics, especially through the work of Willard Gibbs. Early civilizations, such as the Egyptians and Babylonians amassed practical knowledge concerning the arts of metallurgy, pottery and dyes, but didn't develop a systematic theory.A basic chemical hypothesis first emerged in Classical Greece with the theory of four elements as propounded definitively by Aristotle stating that that fire, air, earth and water were the fundamental elements from which everything is formed as a combination. Greek atomism dates back to 440 BC, arising in works by philosophers such as Democritis and Epicurus. In 50 BC, the Roman philosopher Lucretius expanded upon the theory in his book De Rerum Natura (On The Nature of Things).Unlike modern concepts of science, Greek atomism was purely philosophical in nature, with little concern for empirical observations and no concern for chemical experiments.In the Hellenistic world the art of alchemy first proliferated, mingling magic and occultism into the study of natural substances with the ultimate goal of transmuting elements into gold and discovering the elixir of eternal life. Alchemy was discovered and practised widely throughout the Arab worlds after the Muslim Conquest, and from there, diffused into medieval and Rennaissance Europe through Latin translations. Under the influence of the new empirical methods propounded by Sir Francis Bacon and others, a group of chemists at Oxford, Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke and John Mayow began to reshape the old achemical traditions into a scientific discipline. Boyle in particular is regarded as the founding father of chemistry due to his most important work, the classic chemistry text The Sceptical Chymist where the...

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