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From Alchemy to Chemistry in Picture and Story

ISBN: 978-0-471-75154-0
688 pages
January 2007
From Alchemy to Chemistry in Picture and Story (0471751545) cover image
Praise for From Alchemy to Chemistry in Picture and Story

"The timeline from alchemy to chemistry contains some of the most mystifying ideas and images that humans have ever devised. Arthur Greenberg shows us this wonderful world in a unique and highly readable book."
—Dr. John Emsley, author of The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison

"Art Greenberg takes us, through text and lovingly selected images, on a 'magical mystery tour' of the chemical universe. No matter what page you open, there is a chemical story worth telling."
—Dr. Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Laureate and coauthor of Chemistry Imagined

"Chemistry has perhaps the most intricate, most fascinating, and certainly most romantic history of all the sciences. Arthur Greenberg's essays-delightful, learned, quirky, highly personal, and richly illustrated with contemporary drawings (many of great rarity and beauty)-provide a kaleidoscope of intellectual landscapes, bringing the experiments, the ideas, and the human figures of chemistry's past intensely alive."
—Dr. Oliver Sacks, author of Awakenings

From Alchemy to Chemistry in Picture and Story takes you on an illustrated tour of chemistry's fascinating history, from its early focus on the spiritual relationship between man and nature to some of today's most cutting-edge applications. Drawing from rare publications and artwork that span over five centuries, the book contains nearly 200 essays and over 350 illustrations-including 24 in full color-that tell the engaging story of the development of this fundamental science and its connection with human history.

Join Arthur Greenberg as he combines the "best of the best" from his previous works (as well as several new essays) to paint a colorful picture of chemistry's remarkable origins!

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Suggestions for Further Reading and Touring.



The Birth of Metals.

The Essence of Matter: Four Elements (or Five); Three Principles (or Two); or Three Subatomic Particles (or More).

Unifying The Infinite and the Infinitesimal.

Seeding The Earth with Metals.

Chymicall Characters.

Practical Metallick Chemistry.

A Promising President.

These Are A Few of Our Nastiest Things.

"The Sun Rains Gold; The Moon Rains Silver."

Catawba Indian Pottery: Four Colors and the Miracle of Survival.


Eastern and Western Spiritual Alchemy.

The Philosopher’s Stone Can No Longer Be Protected by Patent.

Mystical and Majestic Numbers.

Twelve Keys of Basil Valentine: The Impure King.

Ratzo Rizzo and the Poet Virgil as Transmuting Agents?

Natural Magick: Metamorphoses of Werewolves and Metals.

An Alchemical Bestiary.

Dragons, Serpents, and Order Out of Chaos.

Albert The Great and "Albert The Pretty Good."

A Canterbury Tale of Alchemy.

The Ship of Fools.

The First Modern Encyclopedia.

Today's Specials: Oil of Scorpion and Lady's Spot Fade-In Cream.

"Vulgar and Common Errors."

What Is Wrong with this Picture?

Protecting the Roman Empire's Currency from the Black Art.

Who Is Athanasius Kircher and Why Are They Saying Those Terrible Things About Him?

Alchemists as Artists' Subjects.

Allegories, Myths, and Metaphors.

The Wordless Book.

Strange Doings in an Alchemist's Flask.


Geber and Rhazes: Alchemists from the Biblical Lands.


The Alchemist in the Pit of My Stomach.

A Salty Conversation.

The Magic of Distillation.

Distillation By Fire, Hot Water, Sand, or Steamed Boar Dung.

The Joy of Sextodecimo.

The Compleat Apothecary.

"Rare Effects of Magical and Celestial Fire."

Secrets of a Lady Alchemist.

"Pray and Work."

A Good Old-Fashioned Purge.

"Opening Metals"—The Art of Chymistry.

The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony.


The Ancient War of the Knights.

The First Ten-Pound Chemistry Text.

A Tree Grows in Brussels.

Curing Wounds by Treating the Sword with Powder of Sympathy.

Do Anonymous Passersby Defecate At Your Doorstep? A Solution.

A House Is Not a Home Without a Bath Tub and a Still.

Skeptical about "Vulgar Chymical Opinions."

The Atmosphere is Massive.

Boyle's Law.

Enhancing Frail Human Senses.

Gun Powder, Lightning, Thunder, and Nitro-Aerial Spirit.

Who Would Want an Anti-Elixir?

A Harvard-Trained Alchymist.

Lucifer's Element and Kunckel's Pills.

The Emperor's Mercantile Alchemist.

Phlogiston: Chemistry's First Comprehensive Scientific Theory.

The “Modern” Phlogiston Concept.

The Humble Gift of Charcoal.

Beautiful Seventeenth-Century Chemistry Texts.

What Are Effluviums?

The Surprising Chemical Taxonomies of Minerals and Mollusks.

Chemical Affinity.

Double-Bottom Cupels, Hollow Stirring Rods, and Other Frauds.

There Is Truth in Chalk.


Peas Produce Lots of Gas.

Black’s Magic.

Cavendish Weighed the Earth but Thought He Had Captured Phlogiston in a Bottle.

In the Early Hours of the Chemical Revolution.

Making Soda Pop.

Fire Air (Oxygen): Who Knew What and When Did They Know It?

Nice To His Mice.

Laughing Gas or Simply "Semi-phlogisticated Nitrous Air."

Eulogy for Eudiometry.

Where Is The Invective of Yesteryear?

La Revolution Chimique Commence.

Simplifying The Chemical Babel.

Water Will Not “Float” Phlogiston.

Ben Franklin—Diplomate Extraordinaire.

Mon Cher Phlogiston, "You're Speaking Like An Ass!"

Lavoisier In Love.

Requiem for a Lightweight.

Okay, I Now Know What "Oxidation" Means, But What Is "Reduction"?

The Guinea Pig as Internal Combustion Engine.

The Man in the Rubber Suit.

"Poor Old Marat"? I Think Not.

Poor Old Lamarck.

Elective Attractions.

The Phoenix Is a "Her"?

Chemistry in the Barrel of a Gun.

A Boring Experiment.

Laughing Gas for Everybody!

Some Last-Minute Glitsches Before the Dawn of the Atomic Theory.

Atmospheric Water Molecules and the Morning Dew.

Exclusive! First Printed Pictures of Dalton’s Molecules.

The Atomic Paradigm.

"We Are Here! We Are Here! We Are Here!"

Was Avogadro's Hypothesis A Premature Discovery?

Chemistry Is Not Physics.


If You Do Find The Philosopher's Stone, "Take Care To Lose It Again"—Benjamin Franklin.

Saltpetre, Abigail. Pins, John.

"It Is a Pity So Few Chemists Are Dyers, and So Few Dyers Chemists."

Two Early Visions: Oxidation Without Oxygen and Women as Strong Scientists.

'Tis A Bonnie Chymistrie We Brrring Ye.

"For It's Hot as Hell . . . In Phila-del'-phi-a."

Adams Opposes Atoms.

Twelve Cents for A Chemistry Lecture.


The Electric Scalpel.

Chemical Scalpels Through The Ages.

Davy Rescues The Industrial Revolution.

The Dualistic Theory of Chemistry.

The Chemical Power of a Current of Electricity.

Colorful "Notions of Chemistry."

A Primeval Forest of the Tropics.

Taming The Primeval Forest.

The Atomic Weight of Carbon and Related Confusions.

Why's The Nitrogen Atom Blue, Mommy?

I Cannot Hold My Chemical Water—I Can Make Urea!

Two Streams in the Primeval Forest.

Never Smile at a Cacodyl.

Want a Great Chemical Theory? Just Let Kekulé Sleep on It.

"My Parents Went to Karlsruhe and All I Got Was This Lousy Tee-Shirt!"

What Are Organic Chemists Good For?

Mendeleev's Early Thoughts About Relationships Between Elements.

The Icon on The Wall.

The Electric Oxygen.

The People's Chemistry.

Ink from Peanuts and the Finest Sugar in the South.



Michael Faraday's First Chemistry Teacher.

"Chemistry No Mystery."

The Chemical History of a Candle.

Into the Heart of the Flame.

Poof! Now You Smell It. Now You Don't.

My Chem Professor Took The First Photograph of the Moon!

Chlorine Fairies?

"Rascally" Fluorine: A Fairy With Fangs?

A Mid-Semester Night's Dream.

And Now Turn to Page 3 of Our Chemical Psalm Book.

What Else Could a Woman Write About?


Riding Pegasus to Visit Chemistry in Space.

Lævo-Man Would Enjoy the "Buzz" But Not the Taste of His Beer.

Is The Archeus a Southpaw?

John Read: Stereochemist.

Finding an Invisible Needle in an Invisible Haystack.

But Argon is a Monoatomic Gas—And There are Others.

Searching for Signs of Neon.

Just How Many Different Substances Are in Atmospheric Air?

Atoms of the Celestial Ether.


A "Grouch" or a "Crank"?

Why Is Prout's Hypothesis Still in Modern Textbooks?

Crystals Can Diffract X-Rays.

Two Nobel Prizes? Not Good Enough for the Academie Des Sciences!

It's The Atomic Number, Dmitri!

The Periodic Helix of the Elements.

X-Rays Measure The Distances Between Atoms or Ions.

Where Did We Dig Up the Mole?

Xenon Is Slightly Ignoble and Krypton Is Not Invincible.

The Atom As a Solar System.

'Tis A Gift To Be Simple.

Transmuting Quantum Mechanics Into Chemistry.

Pauling's Cartoon Carnival.

Here's To Long Life (L'Chaim)!

Mercury Can Be Transmuted to Gold.

Modern Alchemists Approach Atlantis.

The Chemistry of Gold Is Noble But Not Simple.

The "Perfect Biological Principle."

So You Weren't Joking, Mr. Feynman.

Nanoscopic "Heavens."

Moving Matter Atom-By-Atom.

A Nanocar Rolling on a Gold-Paved Road.

Femtochemistry: The Briefest Fleeting Moments in Chemistry.


Clairvoyant Pictures of Atoms—A Strange Chymical Narrative.

White Lightning in an Atom, a Kiss, or a Star.

The Secret Life of Wanda Witty.

"Trade Ya Babe Ruth for Antoine Lavoisier!"

Jive Molecules Doin' The Jitterbug.


A Natural Scientist.

Descended From Fallopian Test Tubes?


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Arthur Greenberg is Professor of Chemistry and former Dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of New Hampshire. He has authored or edited several books, including A Chemical History Tour, The Art of Chemistry, and The Amide Linkage, all published by Wiley.
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The fun that Greenberg evidently had in writing this mix of landmarks and light-hearted stuff is absolutely contagious. (Ambix, November 2008)

"My advice to everyone who is interested in the history of chemistry: give your old versions of Greenberg's books away and buy the new one." (Angewandte Chemie International Edition, July 2, 2007)

" a book that the reviewer would have been delighted to have discovered as a student in high school or college " (Bulletin for the History of Chemistry, Fall 2007)

"'A light-hearted tour through selected highlights of chemical history' has been admirably achieved in this generously illustrated book." (CHOICE, July 2007)

can be strongly recommended it will put a smile on your face on the way to the lab. (Chemistry World, July 2007)

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Buy Both and Save 25%!

From Alchemy to Chemistry in Picture and Story (US $101.95)

-and- A Chemical History Tour: Picturing Chemistry from Alchemy to Modern Molecular Science (US $126.00)

Total List Price: US $227.95
Discounted Price: US $170.96 (Save: US $56.99)

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