Chemistry at Oxford: A History from 1600 to 2005 by Robert J.P. Williams, John S. Rowlinson, Allan Chapman

By Robert J.P. Williams, John S. Rowlinson, Allan Chapman

This interesting and specified heritage finds the key effect of the Oxford Chemistry university at the development of chemistry. It indicates how the character of the college, and participants inside it, have formed the college and made nice achievements either in educating and examine. The ebook will attract these drawn to the heritage of technology and schooling, the town of Oxford and chemistry commonly. Chemistry has been studied in Oxford for hundreds of years yet this booklet makes a speciality of the final four hundred years and, particularly, the seminal paintings of Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, and the proto- Royal Society of the 1650's. prepared in chronological type, it contains expert experiences of specific parts of innovation. The e-book indicates that chemistry has complicated, not only as a result of study yet, as a result of the idiosynchratic nature of the collegiate approach and the characters of the members concerned. In different phrases, it demonstrates that technology is a human endeavour and its improve in any establishment is conditioned by means of the association and other people inside of it. For chemists, the most allure stands out as the book's exam of ways separate branches of chemistry (organic, actual, inorganic and organic) have advanced in Oxford. It additionally permits comparability with the improvement of the topic at different universities resembling Cambridge, London and Manchester. For historians and sociologists, the e-book unearths the motivations of either scientists and non-scientists within the administration of the varsity. It exposes the bizarre personality of Oxford college and the tensions among technology and management. the will of the varsity to maintain its educational values within the face of exterior and fiscal pressures is emphasised.

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Yes, it is true that the apothecary, or ‘physician’s cook’, had fulfilled a time-honoured role in the compounding of medicines, but sixteenth- and seventeenth-century researches into anatomy and physiology had posed numerous questions about bodily substances and processes as well as opening up all manner of puzzles in pharmacology. Why, for instance, do some drugs, such as stupor-inducing opiates, have general effects upon the human body, whereas others such as the newly imported South American ‘Jesuits’ bark’ or crude quinine act only on very specific clinical conditions, such as malarial fevers?

We now know that, from his carefully described experiments, van Helmont had most likely made – and sniffed – carbon and sulphur dioxides, carbon monoxide, chlorine, and a few more ‘wild spirits’ as well. On the other hand, he had no coherent concept of chemically specific gases as elements or fundamental building blocks, as came to be developed in the late eighteenth century. 11 And by the early 1660s, Robert Boyle had all but abandoned his last remaining loyalties to any Aristotelian ideas of substance that he might ever have entertained, if we take his The Sceptical Chymist (1661) as a touchstone.

For mercury induced copious salivation, which contemporary aetiological theory claimed must be good for the new disease syphilis. Likewise, the newly discovered antimony was a powerful ‘diaphoretic’, capable of inducing abundant perspiration and vomiting, which were held to be potent weapons in the ‘breaking’ of debilitating and deadly fevers; while white arsenic preparations were used on all manner of diseases, from malarial fevers to cancerous tumours. These metallic drugs were seen as powerful purgatives in so far as they drove out of the body the excessive heat or superfluous moisture that physicians held lay at the heart of life-threatening fevers.

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