Rus Articles Journal

What is flogiston? Delusion or engine of progress?

In series of scientific delusions many theories took away science aside or even back (in our today`s understanding). But were also such which pushed science forward with great strides. Alchemists, without having the systematized knowledge, nevertheless ordered the empirical supervision in works which very strongly helped then chemists. Astrologers created excellent base for astronomy, and scientists in search of an elixir of longevity advanced physics, chemistry and medicine. By the way, phosphorus was discovered in attempt to find a longevity elixir.

One of new concepts which was entered by scientists to try to explain some phenomena - a heatsort, or flogiston. When burned a tree - its weight, naturally, decreased. But where it disappears? And in general - that for reagent such - fire? To explain it, the following model was offered:

Matter consists of substance and a flogiston. Flogiston, in turn, can separate from her when burning in the form of fire. Thus, reaction of burning registered approximately so:

A tree === Coal + flogiston

In spite of the fact that this theory did not pass test time, it helped to develop science substantially from - for the fact that replaced quite difficult transition of matter to energy with simple concept. It as a substitution method in mathematics: if to replace the repeating expression of a variable, then to carry out intermediate calculations much more simply...

By the way, with flogistony one interesting story is connected.

addressed the owner of factory on production of sugar the remarkable chemist Lavoisier Once. The problem was that sugar had a yellowish shade which was not pleasant to buyers - it to them seemed dirty. The manufacturer asked the chemist to understand this problem.

Lavoisier, having armed with knowledge and theories of those years, considered this problem so: by production of sugar in it remains flogiston which, of course, does not change properties of sugar (taste was the same!) but paints steklopodobny (transparent) sugar in yellowish color. The conclusion was right there drawn - flogiston has yellowish color, but its shade is so weak that it is noticeable only in transparent substances.

And, according to the above-stated equation, it is necessary to add coal to sugar as a result to receive wood sawdust and the clarified sugar. Lavoisier made the corresponding recommendations and coal was entered into process. Sugar - became white!

Lavoisier`s work was valued according to the merits, the theory of a flogiston strengthened once again the positions - still, the scientific theory which predicted behavior of substances is worthy recognitions. And unless someone then could think that impurity were removed from sugar thanks to ADSORPTION, and absorbent carbon, several centuries later, became the conventional adsorbent No. 1...

A can and the theory of adsorption just did not face that phenomenon which will not leave from it a stone on a stone?

Studying of history of science is not less interesting, than studying of the science!