By Ball P.

This Very brief advent is an exhilarating and non-traditional method of knowing the terminology, homes, and class of chemical components. It strains the heritage and cultural influence of the weather on humankind, and examines why humans have lengthy sought to spot the ingredients round them. The booklet contains chapters on specific components similar to gold, iron, and oxygen, displaying how they formed tradition and know-how. having a look past the Periodic desk, the writer examines our courting with subject, from the basic imaginative and prescient of the Greek philosophers, who believed there have been 4 elements-earth, air, fireplace, and water-to the paintings of modern day scientists in developing components resembling hassium and meitnerium. choked with anecdotes, the weather is a hugely enticing and exciting exploration of the elemental query: what's the international made up of?

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Agricola retells the account by the Roman Strabo of how gold was extracted in antiquity from alluvial deposits in Colchis, the land between the Caucasus, Armenia, and the Black Sea: 48 The Colchians placed the skins of animals in the pools of springs; and since many particles of gold had clung to them when they were removed, the poets invented the 'golden fleece' of the Colchians. This was the magical hide sought by Jason and his crew of the Argo (Fig. 4). The fleece came from the winged ram Chrysomallus ('golden ram'), and hung in a sacred grove in Colchis protected by a dragon.

The Babylonian god Marduk was 'Lord of Gold'. At the same time, these craftspeople concocted recipes for making artificial electrum by alloying gold and silver. It might seem strange that anyone would want to adulterate gold in this way, but electrum goblets were thought to have the invaluable property of detecting poison. Parting silver from gold was not just a concern of those who took it from the ground; it was an essential skill in commerce too. Traders needed ways of assaying the purity of the gold they acquired, which could all too easily be degraded by amalgamation with silver.

There was, for example, the 'fixed air' studied by Scottish chemist Joseph Black (1728-99). In the 1750s, Black found that a gas was 26 produced when carbonate salts were heated or treated with acid. The air, he reasoned, was 'fixed' in the solids until liberated. Unlike common air, fixed air turned lime water (a solution of calcium hydroxide) cloudy. We now recognize that this is due to the formation of insoluble calcium carbonate - basically chalk. Black found that human breath, the gases given off during combustion, and the gaseous product of fermentation, all have the same effect on lime water.

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