Books for the News, History and Philosophy of Science

The Latest Advances in 17th Century Science

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What’s in your garage? A car? Some bikes and boxes and bins? Boring. We know a guy that’s turning lead into gold in his. Or at least recreating Isaac Newton’s experiments. Meet the proud owner of the world’s only (that we know of) suburban alchemical garage, William R. Newman, professor of the history of science at Indiana University and author of, most recently, Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution.
Discover magazine recently visited Bloomington, Indiana, to see Professor Newman’s unusual lab firsthand and noted: “[Newman] has recreated 17th Century laboratory conditions and experiments, including a homemade replica of Isaac Newton’s laboratory furnace in his backyard. Newman’s research shows that alchemists were not just tinkering blindly—they produced ‘A solid body of repeated and repeatable observations of laboratory results.'”
Intrigued yet? (Boing Boing was. They linked to the story yesterday afternoon.) Want to learn more? Check out all of Professor Newman’s books on the history of alchemy, as well as George Starkey’s Alchemical Laboratory Notebooks and Correspondence, which Newman edited along with Lawrence M. Principe (who teamed up with Newman once before, to produce the award-winning Alchemy Tried in the Fire: Starkey, Boyle, and the Fate of Helmontian Chymistry).