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A Speculum Of Chemical Practice: Lister, Newton, And Telescopic Mirrors

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Chapter Summary

Lister's preparation of the "glass of antimony," and antimonial compounds in general are of recent historiographic interest. Lawrence Principe's work demonstrated that the making of the glass of antimony was central to discussions of the role of impurities of reactants in the identification and clarification of early modern chemical processes. This chapter examines Lister's method to demonstrate the importance of considering these impurities when attempting to interpret early chemical procedures. Secondly, the extent to which antimony was significant to Newton's creation of alloys to make telescopic specula remains relatively unexplored, and it analyzes to what extent Lister's procedure informed Newton's creation of telescopic mirrors. Lastly, recent work by William Newman has demonstrated the centrality of the properties of ores to Newton's theories about the transmutation of matter and metallogenesis. Lister's discovery of cawk ore and its interaction with antimony may have informed Newton's ideas about the formation of minerals.

Keywords: cawk ore; glass of antimony; Martin Lister; minerals; Newton; telescopic mirrors; William Newman



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