From Alchemy to Chemistry in Picture and Story

March 22, 2007
A new book by University of New Hampshire professor Arthur Greenberg chronicles the mystery, truths, lies, art, and even humor of chemistry.
An engraved plate attributed to Augsburg printmaker Martin Engelbrecht in the early eighteenth century depicts an 18th-century engraving of a ragged, impoverished alchemist.
Before he was a well-known artist, Maxfield Parrish (1870 1966) took chemistry. Here is a page from 19-year-old Parrish's laboratory notebook from Haverford College. Part of the Quaker Collection of the Haverford College Library.

published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., connects five centuries of chemistry developments to human history with 200 essays and over 350 illustrations. Greenberg gives an engaging account of chemistry's history, introducing some notable characters along the path from alchemy and birth of metallurgy to nanotechnology and femtochemistry. They include Herbert Hoover, who before his presidency collaborated with his wife Lou Henry Hoover, in writing the first English translation of Agricola's 1556 De Re Metallica, which charted early developments in mining and metallurgy.

Among the essays are: Dragons, Serpents and Order Out of Chaos; Strange Doings in an Alchemist's Flask; A Good Old Fashioned Purge; and Do Anonymous Passersby Defecate At Your Doorstep? A Solution.

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