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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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A Final Interlude

A Final Interlude

Newton and Boyle

(p.482) Twenty-Two A Final Interlude
Newton the Alchemist

William R. Newman

Princeton University Press

Robert Boyle was one of the most famous scientists in Britain, known for his experimental expertise and for his prominent role in the Royal Society, and also a semicloseted seeker of the philosophers' stone. This chapter considers Newton's relationship with Boyle in the light of both men's attempts to arrive at a “sophic mercury” that would in principle dissolve gold into its primordial constituents and make it possible for the noble metal to “ferment,” as Newton says in his short text of 1692, De natura acidorum. The two major English representatives of public science in the seventeenth century had very different ideas about the path to chrysopoeia, though both, in the end, were alchemists in the fullest sense of the term.

Keywords:   Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, alchemy, sophic mercury, gold, alchemists, chrysopoeia

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