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OXYGEN, ACIDS, AND WATER: Eight Chapters from Elementary Treatise on Chemistry

OXYGEN, ACIDS, AND WATER: Eight Chapters from Elementary Treatise on Chemistry
One of the most revolutionary scientific works ever written, and also one of the most accessible, Lavoisier's Elementary -Treatise on Chemistry established the constancy of weight in chemical reactions, revealed the composition of water, and set forth a clear concept of the nature of gases. The Treatise cemented a new, -rational nomenclature that accurately expressed the nature of materials, overthrowing such colorful but deceptive names as "flowers of sulfur" and "butter of arsenic." Impressed by Condillac's maxim, "the art of reasoning is, at bottom, nothing else but a well-constructed language," Lavoisier presents experimental facts in expressions that are vivid, exact, and often poetical. As a result, the Treatise is still, after more than 200 years, a model of clarity and a beautiful example of scientific reasoning. Lavoisier's magnificent work was last translated into English in 1790, in a style that even then could be considered wooden and excessively formalistic. Now Chester Burke and Matthew Holtzman, faculty members at St. John's College in Annapolis, have provided a rendition that preserves the -natural and unadorned liveliness of Lavoisier's narrative prose. Even more valuable to nonspecialist readers of this Module is Howard Fisher's commentary, unobtrusively keyed to the text at the bottom of each page. For each word or phrase that is likely to be unfamiliar, Fisher gives a clear explanation. Obsolete chemical terms, physical concepts, archaic or obscure words, and unfamiliar references are fully explained. And, most important for those unable to repeat Lavoisier's experiments, Fisher lucidly describes the equipment and the procedures, and discusses the significance of the results. Readers who think, "Oh, this is science--I never could understand it," will be surprised to discover the clear and persuasive way that Lavoisier's beautiful language, assisted by Fisher's notes, brings this extraordinary and foundational work of science to life as human thought, and even as poetry.
Publication Date: 
January 1, 2020