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The Search for Simple Substances

A Nature of Science reader that tells the story of how scientists have searched for some simple substances from which everything else might be made. The story starts with the discovery that fire could help to obtain metals from rocks and ends with Mendeleev’s triumphant discovery of the periodic law and the development of his table of the elements. Other chemists whose work is outlined include Ibn Hayyin, Al-Razi, Robert Boyle, Antoine Lavoisier, Humphry Davy and Cannizaro.

The chapters are:
1. Many different kinds of matter
2. The four elements
3. Islamic science – balance of the elements
4. From tricks to unmixed substances
5. Lots more elements
6. The pattern appears, at last

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