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Newton the Alchemist$
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William Newman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174877

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174877.001.0001

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The Shadow of a Noble Experiment

The Shadow of a Noble Experiment

Newton’s Laboratory Records to 1696

(p.296) Fourteen The Shadow of a Noble Experiment
Newton the Alchemist

William R. Newman

Princeton University Press

This chapter deals with Newton's experimental notebooks, containing dated chymical laboratory records from 1678 to 1696. Beyond the glassware and ceramic implements described in these experimental notebooks, the most obvious feature of his laboratory would have been the charcoal-burning furnace or furnaces located there. Like many contemporary chymists, Newton regularly performed his experiments at the high temperatures required for metallurgical operations. It is by means of these “Vulcanian implements” along with the apparatus referred to piecemeal in his experimental notebooks, that Newton managed to produce such exotic desiderata as “liquor of antimony,” “the net,” and “sophic sal ammoniac”. The chapter also considers Newton's instructions for making these and other material precursors to the philosophers' stone.

Keywords:   Isaac Newton, alchemy, experimental notebooks, chymical laboratory, philosophers' stone

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