SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Ambix

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This paper presents some of Santorio’s marginalia to his Commentaria in primam fen primi libri Canonis Avicennae (Venice, 1625), which I identified in the Sloane Collection of the British Library in 2016, as well as the evidence for their authorship. The name of the Venetian physician Santorio Santori (1561-1636) is linked with the introduction of quantification in medicine and with the invention of precision instruments that, displayed for the first time in this work, laid down the foundations for what we today understand as evidence-based medicine. But Santorio’s monumentale opus also contains evidence of many quantified experiments and displays his ideas on mixtures, structure of matter and corpuscles, which are in many cases clarified and completed by the new marginalia. These ideas testify to an early interest in chemistry within the Medical School of Padua which predates both Galileo and Sennert and which has hitherto been unknown.

Concepts: Medicine, The Canon of Medicine, Systematic review, Avicenna, Physician, Alternative medicine, Medical literature, Venice

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This paper examines the continuing role of consultants within the profession of chemistry in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Consultants were a prominent part of the profession in the late nineteenth century, but were overtaken in numerical terms by chemists working in academia, government and industry in the first half of the twentieth century. The paper demonstrates, however, that numbers later stabilised and then goes on to examine the characteristics of those chemists who worked as consultants as compared to the wider chemical community. It argues that the survival of consultancy is best explained in terms of a number of differing models of consultancy work. Whilst for some chemists, consultancy was their main occupation, for others it was a phase in their careers or a secondary occupation alongside another post. The continuing value of consultancy work was related to its very versatility.

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Robert Warington (1807-1867) was a central figure in the mid-nineteenth century chemical community, notably through his role in the foundation of the Chemical Society of London in 1841. As demand for chemical services grew, Warington constructed an ultimately lucrative career in chemistry in which consulting played a major part. His formative years laid ideal foundations for establishing himself as a consultant, whilst his appointment as chemical operator to the Society of Apothecaries' pharmaceutical trade provided the status and infrastructure to sustain this activity. Here I explore the nature of the chemical services he performed for a range of customers through a survey of his experimental notes. At a time when professional boundaries in the subject were being delineated, this case study provides an example of how chemistry could be commercialised outside the academic environment and how consulting merged into a broader scientific career.

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This paper examines the relationship between Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), the company that discovered tamoxifen, and Dr Craig Jordan, who played a major part in its success as a breast cancer drug, and who worked as a consultant for the company, but without ever being paid a consultancy fee. Instead, ICI funded junior staff working in his laboratory on topics of his choice. They later paid his expenses as an expert witness in patent-litigation cases, as a result of which the US became a major lucrative market for tamoxifen, and ICI’s other anti-cancer drugs. This case study illustrates that, like consultants, drugs play an important part at the boundary between the academic and industrial spheres. However, even if it is blurred, the boundary remains. Owing to the secrecy that often surrounds industrial research, this boundary may lead to a different understanding of what constitutes innovation, and to different narratives with regard to respective contributions.

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The Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH) was established in Trondheim in 1910, shortly after the country had gained its independence from Sweden. The establishment of NTH coincided with the beginning of large-scale industry in Norway, and expectations were high as to what the Institute could contribute in terms of competence to establish new industries. Its professors were expected to be not just teachers or academics, but also to be involved in projects with industry. Consultancy was one way of exercising authority in relevant areas, and to acquire experience with industrial projects. Historical accounts about NTH often mention that its professors were consultants for industry, but what this entailed is rarely discussed. In this paper, I will investigate how two chemistry professors, appointed around 1910, formed their roles as consultants: Peder Farup, who experimented with the pigment titanium white for the successful company Elektrokemisk (now Elkem) in the 1910s; and Sigval Schmidt-Nielsen, who became the country’s authority on nutrition, and served both the state and the margarine industry as a consultant from World War I into the 1930s. I will argue that both Farup and Schmidt-Nielsen created “hybrid careers,” using a concept introduced by Eda Kranaki in 1992.

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This article explores how George Davis’s vision for chemical engineering was contingent upon both the national economic conditions of the period (1870-1900) and the critical transition to more economic production for chemical manufacture. Trade tariffs and international competition exacerbated an already challenging economic climate and stricter government regulation of pollution from chemical manufactories added further pressure. Sectors of the British chemical industry faced over-capacity and over-production, while most sectors were wasteful of materials and energy and were over-manned. Davis’s motivation was borne of his work as a chemist, as a consultant, and as an inspector with the Alkali Inspectorate. His search for knowledge and understanding was garnered from on-going investigations in the field and in his Technical Laboratory, coupled with developments in equipment and machinery. Recognising his own limited capability to overhaul the British chemical industry, Davis promoted his framework of chemical engineering to increase the cadre of chemical engineers.

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The article explores the practical and social circumstances of the alchemical experiments performed by the Norwegian priest and missionary Hans Egede (1686-1758) in the Colony of Hope in Greenland. Sources not previously used in connection with Egede’s alchemy are used to investigate in which ways his situation in the colony affected alchemical practice. A lack of fuel is found to have been a main obstacle which may have limited the number of experiments that Egede was able to perform in Greenland. At the same time, the area had natural resources that were useful to the alchemist, and Egede’s position as head of the colony gave access to resources that facilitated alchemical practice.

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Julius Lothar Meyer, John Newlands, and Dmitrii Mendeleev were amongst the discoverers of the periodic system of the elements. Although their systems are similar enough to be recognised as the precursors for the modern periodic system, they were also different. Here, I argue that many of their differences can be explained in terms of how the chemists emphasised different values in the process of developing their systems. In particular, Newland highlighted the simplicity of his arrangements; Meyer was more careful about the quality of data that gave rise to his system of elements; and Mendeleev sought to make his system more complete. By shedding light as to how the values of simplicity, completeness and carefulness guided the development of early periodic systems, this paper contributes to a broader understanding of how values influence science.

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The article explores the use of minerals and the nature of chemical methods employed in Lima in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It does so through examining the availability of mineral resources, including pre-European knowledge of their use, through surveying the books and equipment used by physicians and apothecaries, and finally by examining prescriptions for medicines that were used to treat patients. It concludes that minerals were probably more commonly employed in medicines in Lima than in Spain but suggests that their preparation and use at this time drew on Spain’s alchemical tradition rather than on writings by Paracelsus and his followers. It argues that this did not reflect the effectiveness of censorship by the Inquisition.

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The article examines the two Latin versions of Artephius’s Clavis sapientiae (Key of Wisdom) that have been preserved in early modern collections of alchemical texts. A comparative analysis of the two versions shows that one of them has undergone a process of textual manipulation. In particular, an interpolation of short philosophical passages concerning the doctrine of prime matter has relevant interpretative implications. These additions appear to be grounded in the early thirteenth-century philosophical debate on cosmology and the first Latinate reception of Aristotle’s metaphysics.