By Bernard Jaffe
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Additional info for Crucibles: The Story of Chemistry - From Ancient Alchemy to Nuclear Fission
For eight years this beautiful relationship lasted, and it was during these years that Priestley few weeks later performed his most productive experiments. On this trip to the Continent, Priestley accompanied his patron. While in Paris, Priestley was introduced by Magellan, a descendant of the circumnavigator of the globe, to most of the famous chemists of PRIESTLEY 43 France. In Lavoisier's laboratory, in the presence of a number of natural philosophers, he mentioned some of the startling results of his experiments.
A mind so free of dogma could not stand the strict religious tests applied to candidates for degrees at the universities. After spending four years at Cambridge, where he knew the poet Gray as a classmate, Cavendish left without taking a degree, and went to London. Unlike Priestley, when the phlogiston theory began to crum- he did not cling to it to the last, even though he did not openly accept the newer chemistry of Lavoisier, believing it at best "nearly as good" as phlogistonism. Elusive phlogiston still remained only a word, while all the natural philosophers of Europe and America went hunting for it in every school and private laboratory.
Speaking about this memorable occasion some years later, Priestley said, "I cannot at this distance of time recollect what it was that I had in view in this making experiment; but I had no expectation of the real issue of it. If I had not happened to have a lighted candle before me, I should probably never have made the trial, and the whole train of my future experiments relating to this kind of air might have been prevented. " At this time Priestley had no notion of the real nature of this air.
Crucibles: The Story of Chemistry - From Ancient Alchemy to Nuclear Fission by Bernard Jaffe