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Full text of "Mikhail Vasil Evich Lomonosov"

Mikhail VasiTevich Lomonosov 
on the Corpuscular Theory 

Translated, with an Introduction, 
, by Henry M. Leicester 



fa* , 




M. v Tf nmonosov was an eighteenth-century 
Ru? polymath who worked in chemistry, 
physics, meteorology, geography, geology, and 
electricity, as well as philology and history. He 
was also a poet. Soviet historians of science 
regard him as the founder not only of Russian 
science but of much of modern science. Al- 
though his works have been publis hed exten- 
sively in the U.S.S.R., Lomonoso v 1 s scientific 
theorbs are little known throughc * it the rest of 
the world, and much of die frfornation about 
him that has accumulated ia the literature is 
inaccurate. 

In this book Henry M, Leicester presents trans- 
lations of the papers c >n chemist ' ' and physics 
in which Lomonosov aevHcpeJ h i. atomic 
(corpuscular) theater, IL Jaaptirgthe cor- 
puscular theory of h s day, Lcmci j )sov in some 
ways went beyond su n , i contempc rary scientists 
as Boyle and Newton, and r : . nr ways fell 
behind them. Thirteen of the ftUcn papers are 
on the corpuscular theoi^ , ne is a sample 
criticism of his works, and JLu h ^ is 
Lomonosov's answer to sonu of his critics. 
Each is published in English i. lie entirety for 
the first time. 

In his introduction Mr. Leiceste : iscusses 
Lomonosov's life and analyzes I i 5 scientific 
theories, examines the sources of his ideas, and 
considers the place of his corpuscular theory in 
the history of science. 

Mr. Leicester is Professor of Biochemistry, 
Schc ol of Dentistry, University of the Pacific. 



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Mikhail asil ! evich Lomonosov 
on the Corpuscular fcheo^r 




Mikhail Vasil'evich Lomonosov 
on the Corpuscular Theory 




M. V. Lomonosov 



Mikhail Vasil'evich Lomonosov 

I-" 

on the Corpuscular Theory 

Translated, with an Introduction, by 
Henry M. Leicester 



Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1970 



Copyright 1970 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College 

All rights reserved 

Distributed in Great Britain by Oxford University Press, London 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 73-95927 

SEN 674-57420-6 

Printed in the United States of America 



Preface 



The works of Lomonosov are widely known and discussed today 
in the Soviet Union, but they have been much less studied out- 
side the borders of that country. Fragmentary translations into 
Western languages have been made of some of the papers of 
this versatile scientist, but most of his writings are available 
only in the original Latin or in Russian versions. Russian 
historians of science have accorded him a high place in the 
development of their own science and have attributed to him 
the discovery of many laws which were later developed by other 
men. These statements have been disputed by historians of sci- 
ence outside the U.S.S.R. It therefore seems desirable to present 
Lomonosov's writings to a wider audience, so that a just esti- 
mate may be made of the significance of his work. Besides this, 
the intellectual ability of the man himself deserves to be better 
known. 

The papers translated here admittedly show only one aspect 
of the thought of this polymath. His works in other branches 
of physics, in astronomy, geology, geography, mineralogy, me- 
teorology, as well as his historical, philological, and literary 
activities must be considered by specialists in those fields. How- 
ever, the papers presented here reveal clearly his remarkable 
originality and his ability to follow his theories to their logical 
ends, even though his conclusions were sometimes erroneous. 

Most of Lomonosov's scientific works were written in Latin 
and have since been translated into Russian and published in 
the collection of his complete works in ten large volumes. The 
translations given here were first made from the Russian, and 
then compared with the Latin versions for greater accuracy in 
translation. I am, of course, responsible for any errors which 
have occurred. 

I wish to express my thanks to Professor N. A. Figurovskii 
of the Institute of the History of Science and Technology in 
Moscow for generously supplying me with much of the source 
material which I have used. Thanks are due to Emanuel Davi- 
dove for his aid in translating certain of the eighteenth-century 
Russian terminology. 

The frontispiece, a portrait probably painted in the 1750's, is 

CITY (M0.1 

o 7056308 



Preface 

taken from Lomonosov Polnoe Sobrannie Sochinenii (Complete 
Collection of Papers of Lomonosov), 10 vols., published by the 
Academy of Sciences, Moscow and Leningrad, 1951-1959. 

Henry M. Leicester 
San Francisco, California 
August 1969 



Contents 



INTRODUCTION 

1. The Life of Lomonosov 3 

2. The Sources of Lomonosov's Ideas 11 

3. The Chemistry and Corpuscular Theories of 
Lomonosov 21 

4. The Place of Lomonosov's Corpuscular Theory in the 
History of Science 40 



THE PAPERS OF LOMONOSOV 
ON CORPUSCULAR THEORY 

Introductory Note 50 

Elements of Mathematical Chemistry 51 

Introduction to the True Physical Chemistry 59 
An Attempt at Physical Chemistry. Part First. Empirical. 94 

Meditations on the Cause of Heat and Cold 99 

Dissertation on the Action of Chemical Solvents in 

General 119 

On the Luster of Metals 138 

Dissertation on the Origin and Nature of Niter 149 

Oration on the Use of Chemistry 186 

An Attempt at a Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 203 

Supplement to Meditations on the Elasticity of Air 217 
On the Relation of the Amount of Material and Weight 224 



Contents 

Meditations on the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 233 

Oration on the Origin of Light. A New Theory of Color 247 



Criticism of the Theories of Lomonosov 270 

Dissertation on the Duties of Journalists in the Accounts 
Which They Give of Works Intended to Maintain the 
Liberty of the Philosopher 275 

Index 287 



Vlll 



Introduction 



1. THE LIFE OF LOMONOSOV 

Mikhail VasiTevich Lomonosov 1 was born on November 8, 
1711 (November 19, n.s.), in the village of Mishaninsk not far 
from Kholinogory, near the White Sea. 2 This region along the 
northern coast of Russia was separated from the rest of the 
country by vast forests and swamps, nearly impassible in sum- 
mer, but easily crossed when frozen in winter. The inhabitants 
of this isolated region had never been exposed to the Tatar 
conquest nor to the institution of serfdom which had affected 
much of the rest of Russia. They were, however, in close con- 
tact with the foreign trade and traders, for their ports of 
Archangel and Kholmogory were the main gateways through 
which foreign goods from western Europe reached the Russians. 
As a result, most of the natives of this region, though classed as 
peasants, were far more independent and progressive than their 
counterparts in more southerly areas. 

Lomonosov's father, Vasilii Dorofeevich Lomonosov, was the 
prosperous owner of fishing and trading vessels in which he 
carried on an active life at sea during the summer. In winter, 
the goods accumulated during the summer were sent in large 
convoys to Moscow to be traded for the materials needed by the 
northerners. Vasilii Dorofeevich's son was raised like most 
boys of his class to aid his father in fishing and trading, but 
he was early distinguished from most of his companions by his 

1. There are many Russian biographies of Lomonosov reflecting the various 
phases of his career. These are in large part based on the lengthy biography by 
P. P. Pekarskii in Istoriya Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk v Peterburge (Academy 
of Sciences Press, St. Petersburg, 1873), II, 259-892. The chief source in English 
is the translation of the biography by B. N. Menshutkin, Zhizneopisanie 
Mikhaila Vasil'evicha Lomonosova (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow and 
Leningrad, 1937), which was published as Russia's Lomonosov (Princeton Uni- 
versity Press, Princeton, N.J., 1952). This has been the source of the biographical 
details given here except as otherwise noted. Shorter accounts in English of 
Lomonosov are given by H. M. Leicester in Great Chemists, ed. Eduard Farber 
(Interscience Publishers, New York, 1961), pp. 201-210, and by Alexander Vuci- 
nich, Science in Russian Culture (Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif., 
1963), pp. 105-116. 

2. This statement is given in Letopis Zhimi i Tvorchestva M. V. Lomonosova, 
ed. A. V. Topchiev, N. A. Figurovskii, and V. L. Chenakal (Academy of 
Sciences Press, Moscow and Leningrad, 1961), p. 17. Menshutkin, Russia's 
Lomonosov, following Pekarskii, does not mention the place of Lomonosov's 
birth, but states that his father lived in the village of Denisovka. 



Introduction 

love for reading. At first the only books available to him were 
theological treatises obtained from nearby monasteries, and 
from these he learned to read the Old Church Slavic in which 
they were written. At the age of about fourteen, he obtained 
copies of two textbooks which were standard at that time, the 
Slavic Grammar of Smotritskii and the Arithmetic of Magnit- 
skii. The first, in addition to grammar, contained instructions 
for writing verses, and the second included a survey of many 
sciences of the day. Young Lomonosov evidently absorbed from 
these much of the love of learning which characterized his 
later life. 

Although the boy accompanied his father on the fishing and 
trading expeditions, he was not happy at home. His mother had 
died when he was still very young, and his father had married 
twice afterward, his second wife having also died early. The 
stepmother considered Lomonosov lazy because of his constant 
reading, and he reported later that he "was obliged to read and 
study, when possible, in lonely and desolate places and to en- 
dure cold and hunger." Therefore when he was nineteen, he 
resolved to go to Moscow to seek further education. 

He left his home on December 7, 1730, and reached Moscow 
with one of the trading convoys in mid- January of 1731. Since 
he was legally classed as a peasant, he was not entitled to enter 
any of the better schools of the city; but he knew that he had 
to learn Latin in order to progress in any scholarly field. He 
therefore applied to the Slavo-Greco-Latin Academy, a training 
school for theological students. He represented himself as the 
son of a priest, and since he could read Church Slavic, his claim 
was accepted and he was admitted. 3 Here he progressed rapidly 
through three classes in one year and quickly became fluent in 
Latin. 

Living conditions were difficult for the students, who were 
given a very small stipend with which to feed and clothe them- 
selves, and Lomonosov's father refused to help him since he had 
not returned to engage in the family trade. Nevertheless, the 
library of the Academy contained books on philosophy which 
included much of the contemporary science, and Lomonosov 
eagerly studied these. His teachers were greatly impressed by 

3. N. A. Figurovskii, Lomonosov (Zjjanie Press, Moscow, 1961), p. 6. 



The Life of Lomonosov 

his ability, and even when they discovered his peasant origin, 
they did not prevent him from continuing his studies. How- 
ever, they recognized that his interests did not lie in the direc- 
tion of theological studies. When, in 1735, the head of the 
Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, Baron Korf, 
requested the school in Moscow to send twenty of its best 
students to study at the Academy, Lomonosov was the first 
choice. Only twelve students could be found, but these were 
duly sent, and on January 1, 1736, Lomonosov began his 
studies at the St. Petersburg Academy. 

This Academy had been founded by Peter the Great in im- 
itation of the Academies of Science in Paris and Berlin. Owing 
to the lack of Russian scientists, it had to be staffed by foreign 
scholars, and these had been chosen largely by Christian Wolff 
(1679-1754), the leading teacher of philosophy in Germany at 
the time. He had advised Peter during the formation of the 
Academy and was always interested in its activities. The 
Academy was formally opened in 1725, shortly after Peter 
himself had died. A number of political figures nominally 
succeeded one another as the head of the institution, but 
almost from the beginning the actual control was in the hands 
of Johann Daniel Schumacher (1690-1761), an Alsatian who 
had been Peter's librarian, and who became director of the 
chancellery of the Academy. 

At the time Lomonosov entered the Academy, it was chiefly 
occupied in conducting great expeditions to discover and ex- 
ploit the natural resources of Siberia, then newly opened to 
the Russians. Almost all the academicians who took part in 
this work were foreigners who received generous salaries and 
were supplied with excellent living accommodations. 

Soon after Lomonosov reached St. Petersburg, the authori- 
ties of the Academy realized that no one trained in chemistry 
was taking part in any of the expeditions. They therefore re- 
quested Johann Friedrich Henkel (1679-1744), a leading Ger- 
man chemist and metallurgist then teaching at Freiberg, to 
recommend a suitable scientist for this duty. He reported that 
he knew of no one who was available in Germany, and there- 
for he advised them to send him students from Russia to 
study chemistry and mineralogy and so be ready for the next 
expedition. Baron Korf at once accepted the idea and ap- 



Introduction 

pointed three students from the Academy to study in Germany. 
The three chosen were Gustav Reiser, Dmitrii Vinogradov, 
and Mikhail Lomonosov. Since it was realized that they lacked 
a proper background in science and philosophy, they were first 
sent to Marburg to study with Christian Wolff. Then they 
were to proceed to Freiberg to study with HenkeL 

Accordingly, in the autumn of 1736 they reached Marburg 
and at once began to study German, philosophy, and physics 
under Wolff and elementary chemistry under J. G. Duising 
(1705-1761), the professor of medicine. The Russian students 
found much more personal liberty in Germany than they had 
at home, and they took full advantage of this, leading a rather 
wild life and incurring many debts. This latter fact was com- 
plicated by the failure of the Academy to keep up regular pay- 
ment of their stipends, and Wolff was often obliged to give 
them financial aid. Nevertheless Lomonosov in particular was 
zealous in carrying on his studies, and his later work shows 
how greatly he was influenced by Wolff's teaching (see Chap- 
ter 2). Wolff in turn recognized the ability of the student, as 
is shown by the interim reports he sent to Baron Korf. Though 
Wolff was compelled to report on the dissolute lives and heavy 
debts of the Russian students, he and Duising still praised 
Lomonosov's diligence and learning. Thus, in August 1738, 
he wrote: "Lomonosov is evidently the brightest among them; 
he can be taught much by his great diligence and shows a great 
desire and wish to study/' 4 

In 1739 the three students went to Freiberg to complete 
their studies with HenkeL Lomonosov certainly learned much 
of contemporary chemistry from Henkel, but found him a much 
less sympathetic character than Wolff. When funds failed to 
arrive from Russia, Henkel and Lomonosov quarreled con- 
tinuously. In May 1740, Lomonosov left Freiberg and wandered 
for some time through Germany and Holland, trying to locate 
the Russian ambassador who, he hoped, could supply him with 
funds to return to Russia. He was unable to find him, how- 
ever, and so returned to Marburg, where he lived with friends. 

4. G. E. Pavlova, M. F. Lomonosov v Vospommaniyakh i Kharakteristikakh 
Sovremennikov (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow and Leningrad, 1962), p. 96. 



The Life of Lomonosov 

There, on June 6, 1740, he married Elizabeth Zilch, the 
daughter of a former city councilor of Marburg. The marriage 
was kept secret for several years, perhaps because he feared that 
the authorities would not approve of the foreign marriage. At 
last he was able to get in touch with the Academy in St. Peters- 
burg and received an official recall to the capital. He reached it 
on June 8, 1741. It was not until 1744 that he felt able to send 
for his wife, who rejoined him in the summer of that year. 

In spite of his difficulties in Germany, he had been able to 
complete several dissertations on scientific subjects, and to 
begin to compose the odes which later brought him fame as a 
poet. The high regard for his abilities attested by his favorable 
reports from Wolff, Duising, and even Henkel, made a deep 
impression at the Academy, and soon after his return he was 
made adjunct in the Class of Physical Science. His salary was 
360 rubles a year, an ample sum at the time, but unfortunately 
the Academy had no funds to pay it, and so he was given the 
privilege of buying books at the Academy bookshop for a 
nominal sum and then selling them for whatever he could get. 

Affairs at the Academy at this time were in a very confused 
state. Schumacher had been running the Academy in a very 
despotic fashion and had favored the German members at every 
turn, Russia was then governed by Biron, the incompetent 
favorite of the Empress Anne, but when she died the throne 
was taken by Elizabeth II, daughter of Peter the Great, and 
Biron fell from power. The enemies of Schumacher (and he 
had made many) were then able to attack him openly and 
finally bring about his arrest. Lomonosov sympathized with 
Schumacher's opponents, since as a patriotic Russian he felt 
that the German party had gained too much power in the 
Academy, and he believed that Schumacher himself was re- 
sponsible for many of the difficulties which had occurred. His 
own position was not too strong, for he himself was engaged 
in quarrels with various employees of the Academy, sometimes 
resulting in physical violence. As a result he was placed under 
house arrest and was freed only after a public apology. Schu- 
macher was soon cleared of the charges against him and re- 
sumed his former position of authority. After this, however, 
there was constant discord between the two men, and their 



Introduction 

struggles for advantage greatly Interfered with Lomonosov's 
later scientific activities. 5 

In spite of this, the years between 1741 and 1750 were ex- 
tremely productive for Lomonosov, and most of his theoretical 
work in physics and chemistry and the development of his 
corpuscular theories were carried out during this period. In 
1745, after completion of his paper "On the Luster of Metals/' 
he was appointed Academician and Professor of Chemistry in 
the Academy. From this time on he was in a better position to 
challenge Schumacher's authority, and he frequently did so. 

The enmity of Schumacher had one fortunate result for 
Lomonosov. The former had attempted to block Lomonsov's 
appointment as academician, and, failing in this, secretly sent 
several of Lomonosov's dissertations to the famous mathema- 
tician Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) in Berlin. He hoped that 
an unfavorable report on them would injure Lomonosov's ca- 
reer. Euler had been one of the first academicians in St. 
Petersburg, accepting an appointment in 1727. In 1741, just 
before Lomonosov returned to Russia, Euler had gone back 
to Berlin since he felt that the anti-German feeling in the 
Academy made his position there uncertain. 6 He remained in 
Berlin until 1766, when, at the request of Catherine the Great, 
he returned to Russia where he spent the rest of his life. He 
was always interested in the affairs of the Academy, and his 
established position lent great authority to any decision he 
made. His report on Lomonosov's dissertations must have been 
a great disappointment to Schumacher, for Euler wrote to 
Count Razumovskii, then the president: "All the communica- 
tions are not merely good, but excellent, for they explain most 
needed and difficult physical and chemical matters which have 
been entirely unknown and inexplicable to the most intelligent 
learned men, with such soundness that I am completely con- 
vinced of the accuracy of the demonstration. In this case I do 
justice to Lomonosov, for he is endowed with most fortunate 
ingenuity in explaining chemical and physical phenomena. 

5. For a detailed account of the state of the Academy at this time and of the 
quarrels between Lomonosov and Schumacher, see B. G. Kuznetsov, Lomonosov, 
Lobachevskii, Mendeleev (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow and Leningard, 
1945), pp. 19-40. 

6. Vucinich, Russian Culture, p. 96. 



The Life of Lomonosov 

We must hope that all the members of the Academy can dis- 
play the ingenuity that Lomonosov does." When Lomonosov 
learned of this estimate, he wrote a grateful letter of thanks 
to Euler, and this initiated a correspondence which lasted for 
the rest of Lomonosov's life. Some of his most important re- 
sults were first communicated to Euler and thus reached the 
world of Western science. 7 

During most of his early years in the Academy, Lomonosov 
had to carry out such experiments as he could in his own home, 
and thus many of his early papers lack any experimental 
descriptions. He applied constantly to the authorities for funds 
to build a laboratory, but it was not until 1748 that he was 
able to erect a chemical laboratory to his own specifications. 
Thus was built the first laboratory in Russia to be devoted to 
pure and applied research in general chemistry. 8 

After the construction of this laboratory, Lomonosov turned 
his attention to more practical problems, especially the prepara- 
tion of various pigments, and then of colored glasses. He had 
always been interested in optics, and in this connection he de- 
veloped his theories of color which were among his last im- 
portant works in corpuscular theory. However, with the 
development of various colored glasses he became interested in 
their use in making mosaic pictures. He devoted much time to 
testing various mixes to make all shades of mosaic glass, and 
the work of the laboratory centered on this activity. 

In 1753 he received permission to manufacture these colored 
glasses, and accordingly he built a factory at Ust Ruditsky. 
After 1755 much of his time and energy were taken up with 
the operation of this factory. He was very successful from a 
technical and artistic standpoint, but financially the plant was 
a failure, and for the last ten years of his life it kept him con- 
stantly in debt. In spite of this, he designed and built a large 

7. The exchange of letters is given by V. L. Chenakal in Lomonosov Sbornik 
Statei i Materialov (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow and Leningrad, 1951), 
III, 249-259. 

8. There had been a number of specialized laboratories in industrial plants 
in Russia before this time. They are descibed by P. M Luk'yanov, "The First 
Chemical Laboratories in Russia," Chymia 9, 59-69 (1964). The construction and 
work of Lomonosov's laboratory is treated in N. M. Raskin, Khimicheskaya 
Laboratoriya M. V. Lomonosova (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow and 
Leningrad, 1962). 



Introduction 

number of mosaics, of which the most notable was his "Battle 
of Poltava," showing the victory of Peter the Great over 
Charles XII of Sweden. 9 

After 1750 Lomonosov's activities grew more and more 
varied. His work in the field of physics and metallurgy in- 
creased, and he began important studies in geography, min- 
eralogy, astronomy, and meteorology. He taught a course in 
physical chemistry at the Academy in 1752 and was very active 
in the establishment in 1756 of the University of Moscow, the 
first university in Russia the university which was supposed 
to have been part of the Academy of Sciences having never 
operated successfully. His literary activities increased steadily. 
He composed poetry all his life, but in his later years he also 
occupied himself with writing books on the history of Russia 
and on Russian grammar. He was influential in establishing 
the literary form of modern Russian. 

During all this time his quarrels with other academicians 
increased. This was especially true for Schumacher, and later 
for the latter's son-in-law, I. K. Taubert, who succeeded to the 
directorship of the chancellery when Schumacher died in 1761. 
Much of Lomonosov's time in his later years was taken up with 
bitter recriminations against his scientific and literary oppo- 
nents. Thus, although he was constantly planning to prepare 
enormous treatises on various phases of science in which he 
would explain his whole system in the various fields of knowl- 
edge, he was never able to complete more than the introductory 
sections of each. Many of his experimental and theoretical 
studies never went beyond the walls of the Academy, and were 
buried in the archives of that institution. Therefore most of 
his genius remained unappreciated, though his earlier works, 
which included much of his corpuscular theory, received more 
general recognition in his day. The extent of his influence is 
discussed in Chapter 4. 

The last years of Lomonosov's life were not happy ones. He 
was plagued with debts from the factory at Ust Ruditsky and 
by almost constant ill health. His quarrels with his colleagues 
became ever more bitter. During his final illness he gave way 

9. Lomonosov's work with pigments and mosaics is described by H. M. 
Leicester, Journal of Chemical Education 46, 295-298 (1969). 



10 



The Sources of Lomonosov's Ideas 

to pessimism, saying: "I see that I must die and I look on death 
peacefully and indifferently. I regret only that I was unable to 
bring to completion everything I undertook for the benefit of 
my country, for the increase of learning, and for the greater 
glory of the Academy, and that now, at the end of my life, I 
realize that all my good intentions will vanish with me." 10 He 
died on April 4, 1765. 

A large part of his work did remain obscure until B. N. 
Menshutkin in 1903 began to unearth it. Menshutkin devoted 
much of his life to the recovery of Lomonosov's writings. 11 As 
a result, Lomonosov's prestige in the U.S.S.R. has risen steadily, 
and there is a great volume of Soviet literature devoted to all 
phases of his activities. To him the Russian historians of sci- 
ence attribute the foundation of Russian science. In Leningrad 
they have established the Lomonosov Museum in which are 
assembled the various instruments which Lomonosov made, 
and most of the other items relating to him which have been 
preserved. 



2. THE SOURCES OF LOMONOSOV'S IDEAS 

There can be no doubt that the philosophical basis of Lomono- 
sov's approach to science was strongly influenced by the teach- 
ing he received from Christian Wolff at Marburg. Wolff was 
generally considered in his day to be the chief expositor of the 
philosophy of G. W. Leibniz (1646-1716), whose philosophical 
works he systematized and published. 1 The philosophy of 
Leibniz was essentially metaphysical. It underwent marked 
changes as it passed through the hands of Wolff, and Lomono- 
sov still further adapted it to his own ideas. Lomonosov's mind 
was essentially practical, and he preferred physical models to 
metaphysical speculation. Nevertheless, certain of Leibniz's 
ideas can be recognized in the writings of Lomonosov. 

Both Wolff and Lomonosov constantly stressed the two 

10. Menshutkin, Russia's Lomonosov, p. 191. 

11. See the evaluation of Menshutkin's work by Tenney L. Davis, Journal of 
Chemical Education 15, 203-209 (1938). 

1. H. W. Carr, Leibniz (Boston, 1929; Dover, New York, 1960), p. 186; subse- 
quent page references are to the Dover edition. 



11 



Introduction 

Leibnizian principles of contradiction and sufficient reason. 
These were expressed by Wolff in his early work on logic, 
Vernunfftige Gedanken von den Kraften des menschlichen 
Verstandes und ihrem richtigen Gebrauche in Erkdntniss der 
Wahreheit, first published in 1713, in the following way: 

I. Philosophy is the science of all possible things, to- 
gether with the manner and reason of their possibility. 

II. By Science I understand, that habit of the under- 
standing whereby, in a manner not to be refuted, we estab- 
lish our assertions on irrefragable grounds or principles. 
What grounds are irrefragable, and what manner is irre- 
futable, will appear in the course of the following treatise. 

III. I call possible, whatever thing can be, or whatever 
implies no contradiction, whether actually existing or not. 

IV. As of nothing we can form no conception, so neither 
can we of the actual existence of any thing, without a suf- 
ficient ground or Reason; which shows why it rather is than 
is not; as will appear in its proper place. For the present 
let it suffice that the assertion is grounded in experience. 

V. A philosopher ought therefore, not only to know the 
possibility of a thing, but also assign the reason of that 
possibility. 2 

These ideas appealed greatly to Lomonosov, and he used 
them constantly throughout his works. He often sought to dis- 
prove a theory by showing that its rigorous application led to 
directly contrary conclusions, and he frequently referred to the 
principle of sufficient reason in his arguments. 

Leibniz, a mathematician of the first rank, tended toward 
the abstract in his thinking. He interpreted the world in 
mathematical and metaphysical terms. He thought of mathema- 
tics as a science in itself, while Wolff, equally convinced of the 
importance of this discipline, felt that it should be applied in 
other sciences, at least as a method of treatment. 3 Lomonosov 

2. The selection is taken from the English translation: Logic or Rational 
Thoughts on the Powers of the Human Understanding with their use and appli- 
cation in the Knowledge and Search of Truth, translated from the German of 
Baron Wolfius (London, 1770), p. 1. 

3. W. H. Barber, Leibniz in France; from Arnauld to Voltaire: A Study in 
French Reactions to Leibnizianism, 1670*1760 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1955) 
p. 124. 



12 



The Sources of Lomonosov's Ideas 

was also convinced that some form of mathematics should be 
used in explaining the nature of the world. In many cases he 
introduced algebraic or geometric proofs into his papers, and 
he obviously felt that these strengthened his case. It should be 
noted that his mathematics was of a rather elementary kind. 
He was not a mathematically minded scientist; in place of the 
abstract thinking of a Leibniz, he preferred concrete pictures 
and mechanical models to aid him in his speculations, and he 
was fond of reasoning by analogy from such models. 

One of the chief features of the Leibnizian philosophy was 
his concept of monads. Atomistic ideas were in the scientific 
air at this time, as will be noted later, but most of these con- 
cerned atoms as physical realities. The Leibniz monads had 
little in common with these except that they were indestruc- 
tible and were the units of the world. However, they had 
neither shape nor extension and were in a sense force units 
rather than units of matter. 4 Nevertheless, in building the uni- 
verse they functioned in perfect harmony, since they had been 
created originally by God and subsequently worked only in 
accord with their own nature. Thus the world existed because 
of the pre-existent harmony among the monads. 5 

Probably the first exposure of Lomonosov to the concept of 
atomism came in terms of monads as interpreted by Wolff, but 
he must very soon have learned of the corpuscular philosophy 
of men such as Boyle and Newton. Their ideas of physical 
atoms and of the world as a "great mechanical clock'* fitted 
better into the thinking of Lomonosov, but there was enough 
similarity to the metaphysical ideas of Leibniz so that the tran- 
sition from a purely philosophical approach to the world to a 
mechanical one was not too difficult. It is perhaps significant 
that in his earliest papers Lomonosov spoke of his unit par- 
ticles as "physical monads," but later abandoned this term and 
spoke of "elements." 6 

A further characteristic of some of Lomonosov's writings 
may have also stemmed indirectly from Leibniz. This was his 
evident aversion to Newton. Although he spoke of the "cele- 

4. Carr, Leibniz, pp. 83-96. 

5. Ibid., pp. 103-108. 

6. N. A. Figurovskii in M. V. Lomonosov Izbrannye Trudy po Khimii i 
ike; ed. A. V. Topchiev (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow, 1961), p. 374. 



13 



Introduction 

brated" Newton on a number of occasions, it was usually to 
criticize some of his conclusions or to attempt to refute some 
of his statements. One has only to read his papers to note this 
apparent antipathy to Newton, which may have had its origin 
in the well-known polemic on the discovery of the calculus. 
It may also have had something to do with Lomonosov's an- 
tipathy for Boyle. Boyle and Newton were associated in men's 
minds at that time. 

A direct example of the influence of Wolff on Lomonosov 
may also be cited. In his Discursus praeliminaris de philosophia 
in genera, published in 1728, Wolff drew up an elaborate 
classification of human knowledge, dividing it into three ma- 
jor classes: history, by which he meant factual information; 
philosophy, one of whose branches was physics; and mathema- 
tics, which dealt with the quantity of things. Physics was fur- 
ther subdivided into general physics, cosmology, meterology, 
oryctology (the science of minerals), phytology, physiology, and 
teleology. It is noteworthy that there is no room for chemistry 
as such in Wolff's classification. 7 Wolff believed that the true 
scientist should possess historical, philosophical, and mathema- 
tical knowledge of anything he studied. 

These ideas are clearly reflected in one of the first works 
Lomonosov wrote after he returned to St. Petersburg, the 
"Elements of Mathematical Chemistry/' a thoroughly Wolffian 
document. Since Wolff had not included chemistry in his 
classification, Lomonosov apparently decided to show that it too 
could be fitted into the definition of a science. He began the 
work in 1741, and though he did not complete it, he finished 
enough to show that chemistry could be treated in mathema- 
tical format from the standpoint of mechanics. His definition, 
"chemistry is the science of changes occurring in mixed bodies 
insofar as they are mixed/' closely resembles Wolff's "philosr 
ophy is the science of the possibles insofar as they can be." His 
distinction between the historical (or factual) and philosophical 
(or theoretical) knowledge of chemistry is taken directly from 
the definitions of Wolff, and his introduction of the principle 
of sufficient reason in developing his ideas also comes from 

7. Preliminary Discourse on Philosophy in General by Christian Wolff, trans. 
Richard J. Blackwall (Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis and New York, 1963), pp. 3-19, 



14 



The Sources of Lomonosov's Ideas 

that philosopher. However, his conclusion that "a true chemist 
should be theoretical and practical' ' and should be an adept in 
mathematics is his own synthesis. To be such a chemist, 
Lomonosov felt that the scientist must rely on mechanics. This 
view forms the basis of many ideas which he later worked out 
in more detail. 

It is a matter of some interest and a further indication of 
the influence of Wolff that Lomonosov also drew to some ex- 
tent at a later time on the final chapter of Wolff's Preliminary 
Discourse. This chapter was entitled "The Freedom to Philos- 
ophize/' 8 and is a defense of free speech for scientists. It was 
undoubtedly inspired by the fact that Wolff had been expelled 
from his teaching position at Halle in 1723 because of alleged 
teaching of atheism. Although he was later recalled to Halle, 
his feelings while in exile at Marburg were certainly strong, 
and this chapter reflected his personal distress. When Lomono- 
sov in 1754 felt strongly the criticisms of his theories which 
had been published in certain German journals, he wrote a 
violent rebuttal which he entitled "The Duties of Journalists 
in the Accounts which They Give of Works Intended to Main- 
tain the Freedom of Philosophers." Though the attack on free- 
dom was not here as severe as in the case of Wolff, Lomonosov 
felt that unqualified critics should not be allowed to review the 
works of reputable scientists which represented their freedom 
to philosophize. It is perhaps significant that his article was 
published by J. H. S. Formey (1711-1797) in the journal Nou- 
velle Bibliotheque Germanique which he edited, since Formey 
was one of the chief disciples of Christian Wolff. 9 

On the basis of the philosophical teachings of Wolff and his 
own tendency to use the principles of macromechanics in form- 
ing a picture of the action of minute particles of matter, it was 
inevitable that Lomonosov should become an adherent of the 
mechanical or corpuscular theory of matter which had been 
prominent in the seventeenth century. 10 

8. Ibid., pp. 88-120. 

9. Barber, Leibniz in France, pp. 131-135. 

10. The Democritean atomic theory had never completely died out, though 
owing to the influence of Aristotle it was in eclipse through most of the pre- 
Renaissance period. A useful chronology of the continued existence of atomic 
ideas is given by L. L. Whyte, Essay on Atomism from Democritus to 1960 



15 



Introduction 

In // Saggiatore, Galileo (1564-1642) expressed the idea that 
ihe properties of matter could be explained in terms of size, 
shape, and motion of the particles of matter. 11 All later 
mechanical philosophies, no matter how varied in detail, con- 
tinued to insist on the primary importance of these properties, 
especially of motion. Gassendi (1592-1665) was most influential 
in reviving the old Democritean-Epicurean atomic theory 
which stressed the existence of individual atoms, separated by 
a void, which by their size, shape, and motion gave the proper- 
ties of the visible world. However, he added that chemical 
properties were due to association of the atoms into molecules. 
Descartes (1596-1650), while denying the existence of atoms 
and the void, assumed that matter was particulate and divided 
into three categories. The third form consisted of large, dif- 
ferently shaped particles which as a result of friction from their 
slow motion had worn away, giving rise to smaller particles of 
a second matter (the ether), rapidly moving and also subject 
to abrasion, which gave rise to the first matter whose very small 
particles filled all the remaining space. Thus Descartes denied 
the occurrence of action at a distance, since there was always 
contact between the various particles. Distant action was gen- 
erally denied by scientists of the time. Descartes also believed 
that heat and cold were due simply to the acceleration and 
deceleration of the movement of the material particles, and 
he explained solidity and fluidity by similar mechanical 
analogies. 

Gassendi and Descartes presented their corpuscular theories 
as parts of their systems of general philosophy. These ideas 
were brought to the level of scientific theories chiefly by 
Robert Boyle (1626-1691). His corpuscular theory formed the 
basis on which Lomonosov erected his system. Boyle accepted 
the fundamental idea that motion, size, and shape of corpuscles 
were responsible for most of their properties. Like Gassendi, 

(Harper Torchbooks, The Science Library, New York, 1963), pp. 40-84. A general 
account of the revival of atomism is given by A. G. Van Melsen, From Atomos to 
Atom (Harper Torchbooks, The Science Library, New York, 1960). A specific 
account of the rise of the mechanical philosophy and the ideas of Boyle and 
Newton is found in Marie Boas, Osirh 10, 412-541 (1952). For Boyle's debt to 
Gassendi, see Robert Kargon, Isis 55, 184-192 (1964). 

11. Stillman Brake, Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo (Doubleday Anchor 
Books, New York, 1967), p. 274. 



16 



The Sources of Lomonosov's Ideas 

he recognized that these alone could not account for chemical 
properties, and so he believed that the simplest particles, his 
elements, were combined into larger aggregates. According to 
his well-known definition, the elements are the ultimate par- 
ticles which are not themselves separable, but which can com- 
bine to form relatively simple substances that remain un- 
changed through a whole series of reactions. Gold is such a 
combination of elementary particles, and it can combine with 
similar simple aggregates to form mixed bodies of a higher 
order of combination. The simple aggregates are the corpuscles 
of which substances are composed, and their interactions and 
behavior produce the physical and chemical properties of the 
mixed bodies. 

Isaac Newton (1642-1727), well acquainted with the corpus- 
cular theory of Boyle, accepted most of its essentials, but in his 
theory of gravity he adopted the idea of action at a distance, 
and a number of later chemists assumed a force similar to that 
of gravity to explain chemical affinity. Lomonosov, who knew 
the work of Boyle and Newton well, utilized these ideas ex- 
tensively, though, as stated earlier, he usually mentioned these 
scientists only to criticize some of their ideas. In the definitions 
given in the "Elements of Mathematical Chemistry" for ele- 
ments, corpuscles, principles, and mixed bodies, we see essen- 
tially the same ideas as those of Boyle. They were to some 
extent superior to Boyle's, since the latter did not conceive of 
the existence of aggregates of homogeneous particles 12 while 
Lomonosov did. Lomonosov, like Boyle, thought of the atom 
as a physical rather than a chemical particle. It was not until 
the work of Dalton that the latter concept appeared. 13 Lomono- 
sov's most original contributions came when he developed these 
ideas into his own theories. 

While Boyle was primarily a chemist, he had made studies 
in his earlier work of the pressure-volume relation in gases and 
had stated the law now known by his name. However, he did 
not attempt to give a physical model to explain his results. 
The first attempt to present such a physical model, and to 
deduce from it mathematically the behavior of gases, was made 



12. Boas, Osiris 10, 498 (1952). 

13. A. W. Thackray, Isis 57, 36-37 (1966). 



17 



Introduction 

by Daniel Bernoulli (17004782) in his Hydrodynamica, pub- 
lished at Basel in 1738. Bernoulli, like his great friend Euler, 
had been an early member of the Academy in St. Petersburg, 
which he had left in 1733, and his work was well known and 
appreciated in Russia. In his kinetic theory, he assumed that 
the pressure of a gas was due to innumerable minute particles 
in constant motion which produced the pressure by striking 
the walls of the containing vessel. He showed that by this 
theory a mathematical statement of Boyle's law could be ob- 
tained, and he recognized that temperature increase would 
increase the rate of motion of the particles and thus affect the 
pressure. He also attempted to determine the effect of the size 
of the particles on the pressure at very high compressions. 
These ideas must have influenced Lomonosov greatly, for his 
picture of the elasticity of gases was practically the same. He 
cited Bernoulli directly in his paper in which he tried to find 
deviations from Boyle's law at high pressures. 

Lomonosov was chiefly interested in the mechanism of ma- 
terial change and interpreted the behavior of matter almost 
entirely by macromechanical analogies. Therefore he was in- 
terested from his earliest studies in theoretical chemistry, or, in 
the terminology of his teacher Wolff, philosophical chemistry. 
Even when he was investigating a purely chemical reaction, he 
thought of it as a mechanical process. There was a practical 
chemistry (the historical part in Wolff's terms), and Lomonosov 
himself actively carried on intensive laboratory studies of glass 
and mosaics. However, he felt that the theoretical, or philo- 
sophical, side of chemistry required a rigorous treatment if 
chemistry were to become a true science. Accordingly, when 
he gave his course in chemistry in 1752, he "ventured to call 
this work physical chemistry ... to bring together in it only 
what is contributed by a scientific explanation of mixed 
bodies." He added, "no one can deny that however little we 
have succeeded in explaining chemical phenomena by the 
methods of physics, we should properly use these methods with 
the same right as does physics itself." 

In carrying out these ideas in his course, he also devoted 
much attention to what we now call the physical properties of 
the substances he was describing. Thus in two senses he was 
using the term "physical chemistry" in a systematic and charac- 



18 



The Sources of Lomonosov's Ideas 

terlstic way. As Figurovskii has pointed out, 14 the expression 
had been used previously, at least as early 1716 by Kunckel 
and probably by others. However, they did not apply it on 
the logical basis which led to Lomonosov's choice of the phrase. 
Therefore Soviet historians of science have called him the first 
physical chemist. It would be well to recognize, however, that, 
as Lomonosov himself said, the term to him meant the same 
thing as "chemical philosophy/' that is, theoretical as opposed 
to practical chemistry and not what the modern chemist means 
by this expression. 

The course entitled "Introduction to the True Physical 
Chemistry" was given in the years from 1752 to 1754 and was 
even more an attempt to show that chemistry is a true science 
than was his earlier "Elements of Mathematical Chemistry." 
The two courses are given consecutively in the translations 
here to show how his ideas changed between 1741 and 1752. 
Much of the later course is descriptive of the methods to be 
employed in studying the physical properties of bodies, and 
the short fragment quoted at the end shows how carefully 
Lomonosov thought laboratory studies should be carried out. 
In this course Lomonosov called his elements "principles/' and 
he found in their "cohesion" an explanation of many physical 
properties. 

It can be seen that Lomonosov drew heavily on the physical 
science of the philosophers and physicists who preceded him. 
The application of their theories led him to many original 
ideas. His chemical views were more conventional, but they 
comprised an essential part of his thinking, He was well 
acquainted with the writings of the more chemically minded 
scientists of his period, and these men usually regarded the 
physical world from a somewhat different viewpoint than did 
the "natural philosophers." The two leading schools of chem- 
ical thought in the early eighteenth century were those 
stemming from the schools of Stahl (1660-1734) and Boerhaave 
(16684748). 15 

14. Earlier and contemporary uses of this term are discussed by Figurovskii, 
Izbrannye Trudy f pp. 468-469. 

15. Maurice Crosland in Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 
(Transactions of the First International Congress on the Enlightenment, 
Geneva 1963), pp. 393-400. 



19 



Introduction 

Stahl accepted some of the corpuscular ideas, speaking of 
atoms which could combine to simple, stable "mixts" which in 
turn could form larger complexes. 16 These ideas resembled 
those of Boyle, and probably reinforced Lomonosov's confi- 
dence in his own version of the corpuscular theory. However, 
Stahl was interested almost entirely in chemical properties and 
so did not even consider changes in weight when metals were 
calcined. The chemical behavior could be explained by assum- 
ing a loss of the fire principle, phlogiston, and this was all that 
mattered. Since phlogiston was a principle which could not be 
isolated and could be known only by its effects, Stahl confined 
himself to the subject which interested him, the chemical 
changes in combustion, and only incidentally considered physi- 
cal properties. Boerhaave had a more theoretical approach to 
chemistry, but he did not believe that air could take part in a 
chemical reaction, a belief shared by Lomonosov. He believed 
with Boyle that fire consisted of particles of fire material. Of 
course, Boyle, as part of his mechanical philosophy, thought 
that heat was due to rapid motion of the fire particles, since 
they were smaller than other particles and so could move faster. 

Lomonosov drew on the ideas of all these men for his chem- 
ical and mechanical theories, accepting and rejecting portions 
of their thought as he wished. It is sometimes possible to 
judge the importance which Lomonosov attributed to the work 
of various scientists by noting the number of citations of their 
papers which he gives. He was not in the habit of citing the 
work of others very often, and so when he did cite them, he 
must have felt their work was important. He was most strongly 
impressed by Stahl and Boerhaave, if we may judge by the 
number of his references to them. He quoted Stahl directly 
seventeen times and Boerhaave seven in the papers included 
here, while no other chemist was mentioned more than three 
times, and most only once. 

It has been noted that Wolff did not include chemistry 
among the sciences, but Lomonosov had been sent abroad es- 
pecially to study this subject. Presumably he learned the basic 
principles from Duising at Marburg, but it was probably at 

16. H&fene Metzger, Newton, Stahl, Boerhaave et la doctrine chimique 
(Mean, Paris, 1930), pp. 121-124. 



20 



Lomonosov's Corpuscular Theory 

Freiberg that he gained most of his chemical ideas, since 
Henkel was an abler chemist than Duising, and Lomonosov 
respected his knowledge even though he did not like him per- 
sonally. He referred to Henkel at times in his papers, but 
Duising was never mentioned. 

Henkel was a firm believer in the phlogiston theory, as were 
almost all chemists of his day, accepting the fact that addition 
of phlogiston to base metals raised them to noble metals and 
that by this process formation of ores and metals was con- 
tinually occurring in the earth. These ideas were common at 
the time, and Lomonosov accepted them completely. When he 
was concerned with chemical changes, he showed much less 
originality than he did in developing his mechanical models 
and thus the concept of phlogiston which he held was clearly 
derivative. It should be noted, however, that even in his use 
of this concept, he tended more to stress the effect of phlogiston 
on the physical properties of metals than on their chemical 
behavior. 

Thus, the studies of philosophy, physics, and chemistry dur- 
ing his three years at Marburg and Freiberg formed the basis 
on which all of Lomonosov' s later thinking rested. However, 
as he continued his work at St. Petersburg, he developed his 
own interpretations of these ideas. The continuous develop- 
ment can be followed in his successive papers. 

3. THE CHEMISTRY AND CORPUSCULAR 
THEORY OF LOMONOSOV 

The corpuscular or mechanical viewpoint was employed by 
Lomonosov in his scientific thinking perhaps more completely 
and more consistently than by any of its other adherents. He 
applied it to physics, physicochemistry, and pure chemistry. He 
disapproved of Boyle's idea of rapidly moving fire particles 
since he considered motion alone the cause of heat. He re- 
jected Newtonian gravity as an occult quality and proposed his 
own theory of a corpuscular gravity material. He converted 
Descartes's theory of the three matters into his own peculiar 
but still corpuscular theory of light and color. Thus in follow- 
ing his papers in more or less chronological order, we see how 
consistently he applied the mechanical philosophy to whatever 



21 



Introduction 

phenomenon happened to attract his attention at a given time. 

One of Lomonosov's earliest scientific papers, and certainly 
one of his most important, was the "Meditations on the Cause 
of Heat and Cold," for in this he first introduced his concept 
of the three types of motion progressive, oscillatory, and ro- 
tary by which he subsequently explained all material phe- 
nomena. That he himself considered it basic to his later work 
is shown by the fact that he cited it more often in the papers 
included in this book than he did any of his other papers. It 
has also been the paper best known to Western scientists, 
largely because B. N. Menshutkin in 1910 published excerpts 
from it in the series of Ostwald's Klossiker* 

Since Lomonosov was not concerned in this paper with chem- 
ical phenomena, he mentioned phlogiston only incidentally, 
and since he was developing a mechanical theory of heat, he 
denied the existence of a fire material, the caloric of later 
chemists. This has led to a belief among Western historians of 
science that Lomonosov did not believe in phlogiston. This 
idea was strengthened by the fact that even in his last biography 
of Lomonosov, published in 1937 (translated into English in 
1952), Menshutkin, who had spent a lifetime in the study of 
Lomonosov, apparently still did not like to admit that his hero 
could believe in phlogiston. He therefore said that "in ex- 
plaining chemical phenomena he [Lomonosov] makes use of 
the theory of phlogiston, probably in order to be more com- 
prehensible to his hearers and readers who were undoubtedly 
acquainted with the basic chemical hypothesis of the time/' 2 

Actually, as will be seen, Lomonosov believed fully in the 
reality of phlogiston and used the concept in explaining many 
facts, though he did use it more in relation to physical effects 
than to its action in combustion. This point has recently been 
stressed by Soviet historians of science. 3 

1. Wilhelm Ostwald, Klossiker der exacten Wissenschaften, no. 178 (W. 
Engelman, Leipzig, 1910). 

2. B. N. Menshutkin, Zhizneopisanei Mikhaila VasiVevicha Lomonosova 
(Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow and Leningrad, 1937), p. 187; English 
translation, Russia's Lomonosov (Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 
1952), p. 156. 

3. See, for example, N. A. Figurovskii in M. V. Lomonosov Izbrannye Trudy 
po Khimii i Fizike, ed. A. V. Topchiev (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow, 
1961), pp. 410-420, and N. M. Raskin, Khimicheskaya Laboratoriya M. V. 
Lomonosova (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow, 1962), pp. 100-101. 



22 



Lomonosov's Corpuscular Theory 

In his paper on the cause of heat and cold, Lomonosov 
proved by logical argument that heat consists in internal mo- 
tion of the corpuscles of a material and, in fact, in internal 
rotary motion. It is rather characteristic that in many of 
Lomonosov's scientific papers he did not appeal directly to ex- 
periment, but rather to general experience and common knowl- 
edge, and from these he built up a theory. The fact that he 
did not obtain suitable laboratory facilities until 1748 prob- 
ably accounts for this in part, but his own fondness for macro- 
mechanical analogies would also seem to have been a factor. 

The picture which Lomonosov composed to explain his 
theory of the solid state was that of a mass of solid corpuscles 
cohering to one another in mutual contact. He did not believe 
in action at a distance, and so always had to have some sort of 
physical contact between particles. For greater ease of rotation 
about one another the particles should be spherical in shape. 
This became one of his most characteristic concepts. The pre- 
vious mechanical theories had based the properties of matter 
on motion, size, and shape of the particles. Lomonosov retained 
motion and size, but reduced all shapes to spherical and ap- 
plied geometric reasoning to show how physical and chemical 
properties could be explained on this assumption. He later 
developed the idea of spherical corpuscles in much greater de- 
tail, but he suggested it in his earliest papers. Between the 
corpuscles there were pores of various sizes which could be 
penetrated by smaller corpuscles. This idea was also greatly 
expanded in his later writings. Heat was due to rotary motion 
of the corpuscles, and was greater when rotation was rapid, less 
when rotation was slower. 

This picture of the structure of matter made it possible to 
represent the action of the invisible corpuscles in terms of 
macromechanics, and Lomonosov offered a number of examples 
of model mechanisms. His kinetic viewpoint permitted him to 
deduce that there could be no upper limit to temperature, but 
that a lower limit must exist when complete cessation of move- 
ment of the corpuscles would occur. He thus foresaw the con- 
cept of absolute zero. Further consideration of his theory led 
him to reject completely the idea of a fire material which Boyle 
and Boerhaave had incorporated into their systems. He criti- 
cized Boyle's explanation of his experiments on making fire 
and flame stable and ponderable, pointing out that the increase 



Introduction 

in weight of calcined metals might well be due to "particles 
flying around in the air, which flows continually around the 
calcining bodies" and that something could thus be added 
which would increase the weight. 

In the original form of his paper on the cause of heat and 
cold which he read to the Academy of Sciences in January of 
1745, he criticized Boyle's account of his experiments in very 
strong terms. Thus, referring to the experiments on burning 
copper plates with sulfur he said: "I am amazed that a scholar, 
cautious in other cases, has not here made sufficient study and 
does not remember the acid spirit which flame draws from 
sulfur and which, penetrating metals, causes swelling and in- 
crease weight by its combination/' 4 

Such an attack on a world-famous figure by a young adjunct 
of the Academy of Sciences apparently alarmed the academi- 
cians, for the report of the session included the following 
statement: 

The purpose and industry of the Adjunct deserve com- 
mendation in the search concerning a theory of heat and 
cold, but it seems that he too hastily sets about a matter 
which appears to be beyond his strength; especially insuf- 
ficient is his argument in which he tries in part to confirm, 
in part to refute the different internal motions of bodies, 
and this the Adjunct himself admits when he wishes only 
a demonstration of his special explanation, giving an ac- 
count in the form of a syllogism. The opinion was also 
expressed that the Adjunct should not try to name the 
work of Boyle which is, however, treated with fame in the 
learned world, for he notes in his communication only such 
a place in which as it were he [Boyle] goes astray, and passes 
over in silence many other points where he shows examples 
of deep learning. 5 

Lomonosov did modify his criticism somewhat in the final 
published form of the paper, as shown in paragraph 31 of the 

4. M. V. Lomonosov Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenii (Academy of Sciences Press, 
Moscow and Leningrad, 1951), II, 95-97. 

5. Quoted in G. E. Pavlova, M. V. Lomonosov v Vospominaniyakh i Khardk- 
teristikakh Sovremennikov (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow and Leningrad, 
1962), p. 104. 



24 



Lomonosov's Corpuscular Theory 

work (see p. 114), but he did not really change the sharpness 
of his attack. He continued to be interested in this problem, 
and in 1756 he reported to the Academy of Sciences: "In chem- 
istry. 1) Among the various chemical experiments in this 
journal of 13 pages we made experiments in tightly sealed glass 
vessels so as to study whether the weight of the metals increased 
from pure fire; by these experiments it was found that the 
opinion of the famous Robert Boyle was false, for without en- 
try of the external air, the weight of the burned metal re- 
mained at the same measure." 6 

This brief note indicates that in 1756 Lomonosov performed 
the same experiment which Lavoisier later carried out. In 
both cases the aim was to refute Boyle's theory of fire particles 
which could penetrate glass and increase the weight of a 
calcined metal. There is no doubt that this was Lomonosov's 
aim, but he never published these results and so they could 
not have affected Lavoisier later. He had stated in his paper 
on heat and cold, published in 1750, that the increase in weight 
of a calcined metal could come from * 'par tides flying around 
in the air," and so his experiment of 1756 can be considered 
to be an attempt to check this experimentally. It has been 
so considered by Soviet historians of chemistry. However, 
Pomper 7 has pointed out that this was not the only explanation 
offered by Lomonosov. In a long letter to Euler in 1748, 
Lomonosov suggested that during calcination the surfaces of 
the metallic corpuscles might be more freely exposed to a 
gravitational fluid which he assumed gave weight to substances 
by striking their surfaces. In 1748 this could have been merely 
one of a number of hypotheses by which the phenomenon of 
change in weight was explained. However, in 1758, two years 
after performing the experiment described above, Lomonosov 
presented a paper on the relation of amount of material and its 
weight in which he printed in practically unchanged form the 
letter which he had sent to Euler ten years earlier. He included 
the section on gravitational fluid and weight. As Pomper says, 
the problem of Lomonosov's views on combustion must remain 
open until further evidence is obtained. 

6. Raskin, Khimicheskaya, p. 147. 

7. Philip Pomper, Ambix 10, 119-127 (1962). 



25 



Introduction 

At about the same time that he was writing on heat and cold, 
Lomonosov also developed his ideas on solution, which he re- 
garded as a chemical phenomenon. To Lomonosov chemical 
usually meant what we would call physicochemical, and, in- 
deed, as has been seen, he was the first to use this name in a 
systematic way. Thus, although his theories of solution were 
based on his mechanical viewpoint, he entitled his paper "On 
the Action of Chemical Solvents in General." In this paper he 
reported a number of relatively simple experiments which he 
had actually performed, and he attempted to give these a quan- 
titative character. Here also for the first time he considered 
phlogiston seriously, ascribing the luster and ductility of metals 
to its presence in them. He distinguished two types of solu- 
tion, that of metals in acids, which was accompanied by evolu- 
tion of heat, and that of salts in water, which often occurred 
with cooling. In explaining the first, he showed the interest in 
the elasticity of air which he later developed in detail. He be- 
lieved that air already in the pores of the solute lacked elastic- 
ity, but when the air in the pores of the solvent was added to 
it, the elasticity became so great that it tore off particles of 
the solute, and solution occurred. The heat came from the fric- 
tion of the torn-off particles. The calculations which he used 
to support his theory did not involve any complex mathema- 
tical ideas, but they did show his lack of comprehension of 
significant figures. It is not often, in modern scientific papers 
at least, that a fraction such as 886,717,312/63,207,309,312 is 
encountered. 

He thought that the pores of salts were already filled with 
water and so, when salts were placed in water, it was not air 
but water particles themselves which excited to faster rotary 
motion the salt particles, for conversion of a solid to a liquid 
resulted when rotary motion was increased (as in melting). 
Thus the now more rapidly rotating salt particles separated 
and scattered through the water. Here Lomonosov made use 
of another principle which he was later to emphasize, that if 
anything is given by a body to another, so much must be taken 
away from the donor. Since rotary motion of the salt particles 
was increased, rotary motion of the water particles must cor- 
respondingly be decreased, and so the water was cooled. Thus 
the physical effects of the two types of solution were explained. 

Following these papers, which belong rather to the field of 



26 



Lomonosov's Corpuscular Theory 

physics, Lomonosov turned to purely chemical subjects. Here 
he showed himself less of an innovator, for he accepted the doc- 
trine of phlogiston and quoted frequently from various chem- 
ical authorities. Nevertheless, he still introduced his mechanical 
theories and macromechanical models, and he showed that at 
all times he was more interested in the physical than the chem- 
ical properties of the substances concerning which he wrote. 

In his paper entitled "The Luster of Metals/' he developed 
in detail the idea which he had mentioned in his paper on 
solution, that the luster and ductility of metals were due to 
their phlogiston content. This was an idea which came from 
Stahl himself. Stahl conceived of phlogiston not as a material 
substance, but as the principle of combustibility, the "fatty 
earth" of Becher, which probably did not possess weight but 
could affect the properties of substances which contained it. 
One such property was color. 8 

This idea was expanded by Stahl's follower, J. H. Pott (1692- 
1777), who wrote in 1716: 

I maintain the most usual idea of the word sulfur, and 
I mean by sulfur of metals that fatty and so to speak shin- 
ing earth which gives to metals their color and ductility, 
which is in part incombustible, and which has its place 
with the other earthy principles of metals and which alone 
is capable of receiving color or light. I willingly allow those 
who prefer the philosophy of Descartes to believe that this 
principle is composed of branching, flexible particles made 
with hooks or some other shape. 

The sulfur of metals, independently of all these opinions, 
differs in degree of purity and fixity. For example, in ordi- 
nary sulfur, because of the great quantity of undigested 
bituminous substance, our volatile principle is superabun- 
dant in it; it is more fixed and more digested in minerals; 
this degree of fixity and maturity increases in the imperfect 
metals and finally becomes as perfect as possible in gold 
and silver. 9 



8. J. H. White, The History of the Phlogiston Theory (Arnold, London, 1932), 
pp. 54-56. 

9. J. H. Pott, Dissertation on the Sulfur in Metals. The work was first 
published in 1716 and was reprinted in Dissertations chymiques de M. Pott (Jean 
Thomas Herrisant, Paris, 1759). The citation was taken from this edition, I, 8-9. 



27 



Introduction 

Lomonosov was well aware of these ideas, since he quoted 
this work of Pott in his paper. However, the foregoing para- 
graphs form only a small and incidental part of Pott's book, 
which, like most of his writings, is of a practical nature. Lo- 
monosov expanded the concept in a largely theoretical manner. 
Accepting the theory that when metals were converted into 
calxes and glasses by combustion they lost their phlogiston, he 
drew the conclusion that they would also lose their luster and 
ductility. The greater the phlogiston content and the more 
firmly it was held, the nobler would be the metal. Thus gold 
and silver, which by analogy with the baser metals also owed 
their luster and ductility to phlogiston, had to hold the latter 
more firmly, since they could not easily be converted to calxes. 
He was convinced that metals were continually being formed 
in the earth by gain of phlogiston from sulfur or arsenic (sul- 
fur was a compound of vitriolic acid with phlogiston). When 
iron was treated with an acid, an inflammable vapor was given 
off "which is nothing else than phlogiston" (an anticipation of 
Cavendish, who also considered hydrogen to be phlogiston). 
He thought it should be possible to transmute metals by addi- 
tion of phlogiston to them. Thus, Lomonosov's chemical the- 
ories were those common in his day which he had learned from 
Henkel, but he never stressed the role of phlogiston in com- 
bustion very heavily. 

All the papers discussed up to this point were published in 
Latin in the journals of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sci- 
ences, which circulated generally among scientists of the time. 
The next paper to be considered was not so well known, since 
it was submitted to the Berlin Academy of Sciences in compe- 
tition for a prize which Lomonosov did not win. Nevertheless 
it was read and approved by Euler and must also have been 
discussed when the award of the prize was being considered. 
Thus it was not as unavailable in the West as were many of 
Lomonosov's writings, which reached only the members of 
the St. Petersburg Academy who heard them read. The paper 
was "On the Origin and Nature of Niter," and it is the only 
one in which Lomonosov attempted a purely chemical discus- 
sion of the composition of a substance. It is well to consider 
it in the light of his basic theories and those of his time. 



28 



Lomonosov's Corpuscular Theory 

The production of potassium nitrate, then called saltpeter 
or niter, was of great importance in the eighteenth century 
because of its use in gunpowder. It was usually obtained by 
scraping the white efflorescence from walls of buildings located 
near piles of putrefying animal or vegetable materials, and so 
it was assumed that lime and "urinous salt" (ammoniacal com- 
pounds) were among its constituents. The production in the 
first half of the century was largely confined to Sweden and 
Germany. 10 

At the beginning of the century Stahl had recognized that 
niter was a salt, and he considered that the acid portion was 
vitriolic acid, the closest approach to the universal acid, but 
modified by the addition of phlogiston which came from the 
putrefying materials. This modified acid was the spirit of niter 
which combined with an alkali to give niter itself. 11 This the- 
ory was accepted until after the death of Lomonosov, when 
Abraham Granit in 1771 denied that nitric acid was a mod- 
ification of sulfuric acid and also denied that volatile alkali 
(ammonia) or lime entered into the composition of niter. He 
emphasized the need for a strong circulation of air in the 
manufacturing process. 12 Thus the theory first proposed by 
Stahl dominated in 1748. 

In that year the Berlin Academy of Sciences offered a prize 
for the best dissertation on the origin and nature of niter. At 
the suggestion of Euler, Lomonosov submitted a long paper 
on this subject, but his essay was passed over, and the prize 
was given to a certain Dr. Pietsch who, as his essay showed, 
was a practical chemist long associated with the manufacture 
of niter. It is of interest to compare the two essays, since the 
choice of the Academy well illustrates how contemporary chem- 

10. By 1776 France realized how backward it was in such production, and a 
commission was appointed by the Paris Academy of Sciences to rectify the matter. 
The members of the commission were Macquer, d'Arcet, Lavoisier, Sage, and 
Bamne". They began their work by making a historical survey of theories of the 
composition of niter and practical methods of its production. This was published 
as Recueil de mtmoires et d' observations sur la formation et sur la fabrication 
du Salpetre (Chez Lacombe, Paris, 1776). This work contained translations of 
many papers on niter. 

11. Ibid., pp. 20-21. 

12. Ibid., pp, 403-456. 



29 



Introduction 

ists felt when they had to choose between a practical chemical 
approach and a highly theoretical paper utilizing speculative 
mechanical principles to explain chemical facts. 13 

Both authors assume the Stahl theory of spirit of niter as a 
modified sulfuric acid and its combination with a fixed alkali. 
Both are concerned with the attempt to determine the propor- 
tions of each constituent in niter, though neither is able to do 
more than speculate on these proportions. Both describe the 
actual methods for preparing niter. Beyond this, the two papers 
differ completely in essence. Pietsch is entirely practical. He 
uses experiments to verify all his statements. He assumes that 
the lime which he believes is required is used to form "crude 
niter'' which is first formed on nitrifying walls, and then this 
crude niter reacts with fixed alkali (either spirit of tartar, po- 
tassium carbonate, to give "prismatic niter/' or marine salt, 
to give cubic niter). 14 He supported this view by a number 
of experiments which, in view of the impurities in the mate- 
rials he was using, are of high quality. Throughout his essay 
he appealed always to his own experiments, and he remarks 
at one point: "To wish to demonstrate in chemistry without 
experiments is to wish to construct a building without a foun- 
dation." 15 

In contrast, Lomonosov reported hardly any experiments, 
and when he did report any, they were not his own. Instead 
he began his essay with a general part explaining his basic 
principles of chemical combination in terms of a mechanical 
model of cog wheels interacting with one another. He went on 
to develop the theory of the nature of nitric acid in a way sim- 
ilar to but more detailed than that used by Pietsch, but his 
theory of the nature of the alkaline portion of niter was much 
more complicated. He assumed that the alkaline earth, which 
he also believed was an essential part of the alkali, was mod- 
ified by the presence of some acid material and phlogiston. He 

13. The Pietsch essay was published in Berlin in 1750 as a pamphlet in 
French. The full text is given in Recueil de memoir es, pp. 163-214. 

14. Potassium and sodium nitrates were distinguished by their crystal forms. 
See M. P. Crosland, Historical Studies in the Language of Chemistry (Harvard 
University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1962), p. 76. 

15. Recueil de memoires, p. 182. 



30 



Lomonosov's Corpuscular Theory 

used his corpuscular Ideas even to explain the crystal form of 
niter. His description of the actual manufacture of niter was 
more detailed than that of Pietsch, and each step was explained 
on theoretical grounds. It is easy to see why the Berlin Acad- 
emy gave the prize to Pietsch, for his paper was very clear and 
straightforward and its experimental approach must have been 
appealing, while the often involved explanations of Lomonosov 
and his use of mechanical analogies must have struck the mem- 
bers of the award jury as being too sophisticated. Nevertheless 
this essay, with its wide-ranging speculation and its often deep 
logic, shows how Lomonosov could accept the phlogiston the- 
ory and yet go beyond it into wholly new concepts of science. 

The only other paper entirely on chemistry which Lomono- 
sov prepared was his "Oration on the Use of Chemistry/' and 
this was not a piece of original research. It was a formal ora- 
tion prepared for the name day of the Empress Elizabeth, 
daughter of Peter the Great, and it is full of flattering allu- 
sions to her and of the poetic and rhetorical language which 
was expected at that time in a formal address. It does, how- 
ever, reflect in some respects the expansion of Lomonosov's 
scientific interests. Thus, he now adds optics to the mechanics 
and mathematics which the chemist should know, and he shows 
interest in color, specifically mentioning colored glass and mo- 
saics. Since at this time (1751) he was making his studies on 
the preparation of colored glasses for mosaic pictures, and was 
developing his own theory of color which he presented in 1754, 
these references are understandable. Of course, he did not fail 
to mention rotary motion as the cause of heat, for this was al- 
ways on his mind. Of interest is his claim that the invention of 
gunpowder had mitigated the horrors of war. This was not the 
only time that the invention of a new weapon had been seen 
as a deterrent to war. 

Beginning in 1748, Lomonosov became more and more in- 
terested in the physical consequences of his kinetic view of 
the behavior of corpuscles. His earlier papers had shown that 
he was interested in the elastic property of air, which, in com- 
mon with his contemporaries, he regarded as a purely physical 
substance unable to enter into chemical reactions. Boyle had 
made some attempt to develop a kinetic theory of the elasticity 



51 



Introduction 

of air, but had not pursued it. 16 Bernoulli had attempted a 
mathematical treatment of this phenomenon. Lomonosov per- 
ceived most of the implications of such a theory. Pneumatic 
chemistry was beginning to develop at this time, but there is 
no indication that Lomonosov was in any way involved in this. 
Therefore he was justified from his point of view in assuming 
that "those particles of air which produce elasticity, tending 
to separate from each other, lack any complexity and organized 
structure," but being unable to undergo any changes, can safely 
be called "atoms" as distinct from corpuscles or mixed bodies 
which, like our molecules, have structures specific to them and 
can undergo changes, that is, chemical reactions. However, the 
atoms do cause heat in other bodies, that is, excite them to 
rotary motion, and so these atoms are probably spheres with 
roughened surfaces which can excite heat by friction. Since 
there is no action at a distance ("one body cannot act directly 
on another without contact with it"), but air can be strongly 
compressed, there must be spaces between the atoms, and these 
atoms must be moving randomly in this space and striking 
each other with a following rebound which drives them apart. 
Once again a macromechanical model supplied Lomonosov 
with an explanation for his theory. It was the rough surfaces 
of the rotating atoms which caused their mutual repulsion on 
contact, and the higher the temperature, that is, the faster their 
rotation, the greater would be the force of their rebound and 
the greater the elasticity of the air. As usual, Lomonosov then 
proceeded to explain a number of other observations as a re- 
sult of his kinetic theory, in general quite correctly. 

When Lomonosov read this paper before the Academy of 
Sciences, his colleague Richmann pointed out that this theory 
did not explain the relation between the elasticity of air and 
its density. Lomonosov was not sure that the relation expressed 
by Boyle's law was entirely correct, and so he devoted a year 
to an experimental attempt to test it. Unfortunately, he based 
his experiments on the false premise that the expansion of ice 
when water froze was due to liberation of air from the pores 
of the water at the moment of freezing, and that this accounted 
for the expansion which could break the vessel in which the 

16. Marie Boas, Osiris 20, 476-477 (1952). 



32 



Lomonosov's Corpuscular Theory 

freezing occurred. He therefore believed that he could measure 
the elasticity of air by measuring the force required to break 
the vessel. Thus his experiments and the calculations which he 
based on them were without significance. However, he did con- 
clude from his mechanical model that when the air is greatly 
compressed, its density is not proportional to its elasticity. Thus 
he gave a model to show the effect of particle size on compress- 
ibility, a fact which had been suggested by the mathematics 
of Bernoulli. He presented this work as a supplement to his 
paper on elasticity of air in 1749, and the two papers were pub- 
lished in the same volume of the Novi Commentarii Academiae 
scientiarum imperialis Petropolitanae in 1750. 

In the same period, 174748, Lomonosov considered the prob- 
lems connected with density and weight of solids. He took 
issue with Newton's view that the quantity of a body is pro- 
portional to its density, at least in the case of heterogeneous 
substances. He argued that gold and water particles must be 
of the same shape and because of the incompressibility of these 
substances their general structure could not be different. There- 
fore he tried to explain their differences through a theory of 
gravity. He denied that gravity could be explained by a pure 
attractive power innate in material bodies, since in his view 
this would imply an occult quality, and his mechanical bias 
made him reject this and consider that Newton, or at least his 
followers, had restored this occult quality to scientific respect- 
ability. The cohesion of particles, then, if not due to innate 
attraction, had to be due to an external blow. Here he pre- 
sented his theory of the conservation of matter and motion: 
as much of either of these as is added at any point must be 
taken away at another. 17 His argument led him to the view 
that there is a gravitational material, an extremely subtle fluid, 
which acts when its particles strike the surfaces of corpuscles 
where these particles cannot penetrate the pores between the 
corpuscles. Corpuscles of different sizes will be affected differ- 
ently; those with larger surfaces will be struck by more gravity 
particles and hence will be heavier. Thus, by introducing a 
mechanical theory of gravity, Lomonosov felt that he had done 

17. See note 7 above. Pomper has pointed out the overemphasis by many 
Soviet historians of science on this aspect of Lomonosov's thought. 



Introduction 

away with Newton's occult quality. In this discussion Lomon- 
osov again repeated his idea that fire is not fixed in calcined 
bodies, but their increase in weight is due to combination with 
particles from the surrounding air or else to a change in the 
amount of surface exposed to the gravitational particles. 

These ideas were developed in 1747 and expressed in a long 
letter which Lomonosov sent to Euler on July 5, 1748. They 
were not put in the form of a scientific paper until 1758 when 
he read them in essentially the same words as in his letter at 
a session of the Academy of Sciences. Even so, this paper was 
not published, but was deposited in the archives of the acad- 
emy. Thus it could not have been generally known, except 
to a small circle of friends to whom Euler might have men- 
tioned it. 

Lomonosov's last important paper on the corpuscular theory 
was presented in August of 1760 and was inspired by the suc- 
cessful freezing of mercury which Braun and Lomonosov had 
carried out the previous winter. This led Lomonosov to review 
his corpuscular ideas on the nature of cohesion and the struc- 
ture of liquids and solids. The paper, "Meditations on the 
Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies/' began by repeating the argu- 
ments which had been used in the paper on density and weight 
against the existence of an innate attractive force in bodies. 
Since the latter paper had not been published, Lomonosov 
probably welcomed the opportunity to express these ideas 
again, especially since he knew that the freezing of mercury 
had been widely acclaimed in western Europe, and so a paper 
dealing with this subject would probably be read extensively. 
He then went on to show mathematically that the spherical 
form was the only one in which material particles could exist, 
and in his only major attempt to account for affinity, a leading 
problem for most eighteenth-century chemists, he showed by 
a mechanical model how spheres, in actual contact at one point 
only, could have a surface of cohesion. This was greater for 
larger spheres, and thus bodies with larger corpuscles would 
show greater cohesion, having higher melting points and dif- 
fering in other properties that depended on cohesive forces. 
He then described in some detail the actual experiments on 
freezing of mercury. There had always been some question as 
to the metallic nature of this substance, and so great interest 



34 



Lomonosov's Corpuscular Theory 

was aroused when the Russian academicians showed that in 
solid form it closely resembled the other metals. This portion 
of Lomonosov's paper was therefore the most widely discussed. 
It received considerable attention even in the Philosophical 
Transactions in England. 18 

After Lomonosov occupied his new chemical laboratory in 
1748, he began to devote more and more time to experiments 
on the manufacture of colored glasses for his mosaics. This 
work led him to speculate on the nature of light and color, and 
he found that he could fit these phenomena into his corpus- 
cular system. He presented his theories on this subject in a 
formal oration which he presented to the Academy of Sciences 
in 1756. Although once again his language was, of necessity, 
rhetorical, he took the occasion to expound his new theories 
in detail, and so this oration has more of the character of a 
scientific paper than was the case with his oration on the use 
of chemistry. 

Descartes had attempted to develop a mechanical theory of 
light and color, and his ideas obviously served as a basis for 
those of Lomonosov, but the latter could not agree with the 
direction taken by Newton. 19 In particular he objected to what 
he called Newton's "streaming theory of light." He retained 
the idea of corpuscles, as he had to do to keep his mechanical 
philosophy, but he combined his own version with many ele- 
ments of Cartesian theory to produce a very original theory of 
the nature of light, and especially of color. A striking feature 
of his color theory was his recognition of the three primary 
colors, red, yellow, and blue. His predecessors had never been 
able to agree on the number of primary colors, and here Lo- 
monosov showed his originality. 20 The remainder of his theory 
is more notable for the ingenuity of the manner in which he 
combined the three-element theory of Paracelsus with physics 
and optics than it is for its accuracy. 

18. Philosophical Transactions 51, pt. 2, 670-676 (1761). 

19. For the Cartesian and Newtonian systems, see R. S. Westfall, Isis 53, 339- 
358 (1962). 

20. Mariotte had earlier proposed these three colors as primary, but he had 
added black and white to them. The relation of the theories of Mariotte and 
Lomonosov is discussed by K. S. Lyalikov in Lomonosov Sbornik Statei i 
Materialov (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow and Leningrad, 1951), III, 17-32. 



35 



Introduction 

He began the paper with a severe criticism of Newton's 
corpuscular theory, the theory of a flowing motion of light as 
he called it. He accepted the fact that light is due to the mo- 
tion of the ether, a very subtle and elastic fluid "which no one 
now doubts/' This was his first extensive use of the concept 
of the ether. The idea of imponderable fluids, which stemmed 
from the second matter of Descartes, was gaining ground at 
this time and by the end of the century was being used by 
most scientists to explain the nature of such phenomena as 
heat and electricity. These were not generally conceived as 
being particulate. Lomonosov also used the concept of very 
subtle fluids, as in his theory of gravitational matter, or of 
ether in his optical theories, but to him these fluids were 
strictly corpuscular, and their properties could always be ex- 
plained by mechanical analogies. 

The types of motion available to the ether particles would 
be the same as those available to the corpuscles of matter. 
Therefore Lomonosov considered the motions of light in some 
detail. He devoted much attention to a disproof on mechanical 
grounds of the flowing theory of light. If such motion was im- 
possible, light could not have a progressive motion. Light and 
heat exist separately, for there can be light without heat, as 
in the rays from the moon. Heat, as he constantly stressed, is 
due to rotational motion of material corpuscles. The ether 
particles coming from the sun can also have rotational motion. 
Such rotational motion of the ether particles can excite rota- 
tional motion in material bodies, heating them. Thus light 
cannot be due to rotational motion of the ether particles. 
Therefore only the third type of motion remains for it. "Since 
the ether cannot have a flowing motion, and the rotary motion 
is the cause of heat without light, there remains only the third, 
an oscillatory motion of the ether which should be the cause 
of light." Having thus shown on theoretical grounds that light 
is due to an oscillatory motion, Lomonosov went on to prove 
this by comparison with sound waves in air. When the rotary 
motion of the ether produced heat in material bodies, its own 
rotary motion was blunted and only oscillatory motion was 
left. Hence there could be light without heat. 

Lomonosov then turned to his rather complicated theory 
of the nature of color. For this he presented a theory of the 



36 



LomonosoVs Corpuscular Theory 

structure o ether which was essentially identical with Des- 
carte's theory concerning the three forms of. matter, though 
he did not mention Descartes in this connection. He assumed 
ether particles of three sizes, one type relatively large, the sec- 
ond smaller, the third very small. He compared them to can- 
non balls, bullets, and small shot, and pointed out that a 
mixture of these would leave no free space and would every- 
where have the same composition, properties characteristic of 
the ether. He then extended the idea he had previously pre- 
sented several times, that interaction between spherical par- 
ticles could occur only if the roughness of their surfaces could 
intermesh, as in cog wheels. If such intermeshing could occur, 
he called the particles compatible; if it could not, they were 
incompatible. He now had three types of ether particles and 
three primary colors. He needed three material bodies to be 
acted upon. He turned to chemical theory and stated that most 
chemists accepted chief and subsidiary materials in bodies. 
The chief materials were the three elements of Paracelsus, salt 
(or acid), mercury, and sulfur. The subsidiary ones were watery 
and earthy particles. He was now ready to combine all these 
theories. For each type of ether corpuscle there was a com- 
patible type of primary material, and for the excitation of 
rotary motion in each type of primary material there was a 
corresponding color produced when that type of material was 
stimulated in the eye. The optic nerve then carried the sen- 
sation to the brain by successive stimulation of the compatible 
particles along the nerve much as a series of intermeshing cog 
wheels will turn when the end wheel is turned. The largest 
type of ether particles was compatible with acid corpuscles in 
the material body and when these turned, the sensation of red 
was produced. The second type interacted with mercury and 
produced yellow. The third type reacted with sulfur, the in- 
flammable principle, and produced blue. Other colors resulted 
from mixture of the primary colors. 

On this theoretical basis the colors of material substances 
could be explained. If the surface of a substance were covered 
by all three types of particles, the rotary motion of all three 
types of ether particles would be blunted, none could reach 
the optic nerve, and no sense of color resulted. Hence the ob- 
ject was black. If the surface were covered by the secondary 



37 



Introduction 

types of matter, watery or earthy, there was no blunting of 
the ether particles, all colors were reflected and reached the 
eye, and the object appeared white (this much of Newton's 
demonstration Lomonosov accepted). If the surface were cov- 
ered mostly with acid material, the rotary motion of the large 
ether particles was blunted, the other two types (producing 
blue and yellow sensations) reached the eye, and green re- 
sulted. If two types of material were on the surface, only the 
primary color corresponding to the third would be observed. 
Lomonosov was careful to point out that while rotary motion 
was responsible for both heat and color, it was rotary motion 
of material particles which was responsible for heat, while it 
was rotary motion of the ether particles which produced color. 
He illustrated the consequences of this theory by numerous 
examples. 

To be completely consistent in his corpuscular theory, Lo- 
monosov felt that he should be able to explain electricity also 
in corpuscular terms. He developed a theory of the origin of 
atmospheric electricity and lightning in terms of the upward 
and downward motion of columns of warm or cold air, rec- 
ognizing the importance of friction in producing electrical 
phenomena. This was obvious, for the static machine was used 
to demonstrate electrical effects in his day. Since electricity, 
like light and heat, could cross an airless space, he felt it should 
be explained like light and heat as a form of motion of the 
ether. In 1756 he began to prepare a paper on "Theoria elec- 
tricitatis methodo mathematica concinnata," reverting to the 
mathematical format he had used in the "Elements of Mathe- 
matical Chemistry/' 21 His proposed table of contents was very 
comprehensive. He began with a discussion of the properties 
of insulators and conductors. He then showed logically that 
electricity was due to the motion of the ether. He proceeded 
to a discussion of motions of the ether particles which pro- 
duced heat and light (rotary and oscillatory), repeating most 
of the arguments he had used in his oration on light and color. 
At this point he broke off and so came to no theory of the 



21. The paper is given in M. F. Lomonosov Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenii 
(Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow and Leningrad, 1952), III, 265-313, and in 
Izbrannye Trudy, pp. 273-293. 



38 



Lomonosov's Corpuscular Theory 

nature of electricity. The editor of the Izbrannye Trudy 22 sug- 
gests that he may have found it too difficult to incorporate 
electricity into his theory, and this seems likely, since he had 
already used up all forms of motion of the particles which his 
theory allowed, leaving none for electricity. At any rate, he 
was never able to extend his corpuscular theory any further 
than he had carried it in his oration on light and color. 

Although Lonionosov was the professor of chemistry in the 
Academy of Sciences, and considered "chemistry my chief pro- 
fession/' 23 his theoretical ideas were essentially those of a phys- 
icist. Marie Boas has pointed out the readier clear-cut distinc- 
tion between the believers in chemical and physical atomism 
in the eighteenth century. 24 Lomonosov certainly belonged to 
the latter group. However, since he had said that the true 
chemist must be both theoretical and practical, it should not 
be forgotten that he had a great interest in the practical ap- 
plications of chemistry. He was well acquainted with the tech- 
nology of niter production, as his paper on the composition 
of niter shows, and in his oration on the uses of chemistry he 
pointed out the many applications of this science for the ben- 
efit of mankind. He contributed greatly to the mineralogy of 
Russia, and his work on glass manufacture for use in mosaics 
was of significant value. 

It can be seen from this summary of the theoretical papers 
on corpuscular theory that Lomonosov held consistently to his 
mechanical philosophy over his entire active scientific career 
from about 1741 to 1760. Many of the ideas which were sug- 
gested in his earlier papers were later developed in full detail, 
and many profound insights, well ahead of those of his con- 
temporaries, were evolved by the Russian polymath. At the 
same time, the relatively small number of experiments which 
he performed and the reliance which he showed upon reason- 
ing by analogy often led him into too facile flights of theoriz- 
ing. Although he could suggest crucial experiments, he seldom 
had time to carry them out, or when he did, the results were 

22. P. 535. 

23. Lyalikov, Sbornik Statei, p. 17. 

24. "Structure of Matter and Chemical Theory in the Seventeenth and 
Eighteenth Centuries" in Critical Problems in the History of Science, ed. Mar- 
shall Clagett (University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wis., 1951), pp. 499-514. 



39 



Introduction 

not published. His extremely varied activities, his constant 
quarrels with his opponents in and out of the Academy, and 
his time-consuming activities in developing his mosaic indus- 
try when he did enter the laboratory all prevented that close 
contact with "historical" chemistry which he had declared in 
his "Elements of Mathematical Chemistry" to be essential for 
a true chemist. While we must applaud his remarkable abil- 
ities as a scientist, we must regret that he did not devote more 
time to his scientific work. 

4. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LOMONOSOV'S 
CORPUSCULAR THEORY IN THE 

HISTORY OF SCIENCE 

It is a well-known fact that much of Lomonosov's scientific 
work was never published and was only discovered after Men- 
shutkin in 1903 began his investigations of the papers depos- 
ited in the archives of the Academy of Sciences. In fact, so 
little was Lomonosov's scientific work recognized outside of 
Russia in the century following his death that when Ferdinand 
Hoefer wrote his history of chemistry in 1869, he could men- 
tion "Lomonosov the chemist, who is not to be confused with 
the poet of the same name." 1 

In the years following his death, Lomonosov was known 
even in Russia chiefly for his poetry and his historical and 
philological works. This may well have been because of his ac- 
tivity in founding the University of Moscow in 1756 which 
made him well known to the faculty of that university, but 
they were well acquainted only with his nonscientific works. 
Hence, after his death, these men enthusiastically praised only 
his literary writings, ignoring Lomonosov the scientist. 2 

His scientific theories were not completely forgotten by 
Russian scientists, but their failure to fit into the framework 
of nineteenth-century concepts did nothing to increase his 
reputation in the scientific circles of his homeland. When 
Pekarskii wrote his lengthy biography of Lomonosov in 1873, 

1. Histoire de la Chimie (Paris, 1869), VIII, 367. 

2. Alexander Vucinich, Science in Russian Culture (Stanford University Press, 
Stanford, Calif., 1963), p. 114. 



40 



Significance of Lomonosov's Theory 

he sought to evaluate the latter's contributions through the 
comments of later specialists. He was able to find only two 
physicists who had attempted a review of Lomonosov's work. 
One of these, D. M. Perevoshchikov, had said in 1833: "We 
may accept or not accept the ideas of Lomonosov, but we 
cannot fail to see in his explanations a strong and ingenious 
logic." 3 In 1855 the physicist Lyubimov emphasized that Lo- 
monosov was not a mathematician and said: "No particularly 
notable discovery is associated with the name of Lomonosov; 
we do not even encounter his name in the history of science. 
The variety of his examples which he discussed with bound- 
less acuteness led his attention from one point to another and 
did not allow him to remain on a particular investigation of 
any separate phenomenon; he was always carried away into 
the field of theory." 4 With regard to Lomonosov's chemical 
work, Pekarskii had to admit that "until now none of our 
specialists has taken the trouble to consider and evaluate the 
nature of Lomonosov's work as a chemist from the historical 
point of view, and so in the present case I have had to use a 
rather superficial sketch/' 5 

It is not surprising under these circumstances that the name 
of Lomonosov was not associated with corpuscular and kinetic 
theories after his death, and that he could be hailed as a major 
scientist only after the rediscovery of most of his scientific 
writings. If we are to look for an influence which he may have 
exerted on the development of science, we must determine 
how much his work was known to his contemporaries, and 
how their reactions to it may have influenced their own work. 

It is also important to note his continually growing reputa- 
tion among Soviet historians of science. They have claimed 
for Lomonosov priority in the statement of a number of major 
scientific laws and have tried to trace his influence in the 
thinking of later scientific innovators. These claims have been 
criticized by other writers. It is therefore desirable to review 
this literature in an attempt to assess the significance of Lo- 
monosov's work. 

3. P. P. Pekarskii, Istoriya Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk v Peterburge (St. 
Petersburg, 1873), II, 447. 

4. Ibid., pp. 447-448. 

5. Ibid., pp. 451-452. 



41 



Introduction 

The Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg was recognized 
by all European scientists as a major scientific institution. The 
fact that many of the academicians already had established 
reputations in the West before they went to Russia and cor- 
responded regularly with their Western colleagues helped to 
spread knowledge of the work of the Academy throughout the 
scholarly world. The use of Latin as a universal language per- 
mitted ready understanding of their papers. Thus it is not 
surprising that the publications of the Academy were noted, 
abstracted, and commented upon by most of the learned jour- 
nals of Europe. These included such major publications as the 
Journal des sgavans, the Journal encyclopedique, the Nova 
A eta Eruditorum, and a considerable number of other schol- 
arly journals, especially in Germany. The discussions of Lomo- 
nosov's theories in some of these journals were quite lengthy. 6 
This is why Lomonosov could indignantly say of one of his 
critics: "He appears to have designed to impose formally on 
the learned world the thought that the Memoirs of the Im- 
perial Academy at St. Petersburg is a rare work which no one 
is able to consult" (see p. 283). 

It is true that some of the comments on his theories were 
extremely critical. These theories were too novel to be ac- 
cepted by the more conventionally minded reviewers in some 
of the journals in Germany. 7 In particular, the anonymous 
reviewer in the Leipzig journal Commentarii de rebus in sci- 
entia naturali et medicina gestis for 1752 attacked all of the 
Lomonosov papers published in 1750 in the first volume of 
the Novi Commentarii Academiae scientiarum imperialis Petro- 
politanae. He was particularly violent in his criticism of the 
theory of the cause of heat and cold. Lomonosov obviously 
considered this important enough to answer in angry words. 
In 1754 a certain Arnold defended a thesis at the University 
of Erlangen, "On the Impossibility of Explaining Heat by 
Rotary Motion of Particles of a Body around Their Axes/' in 

6. References to Lomonosov in the various journals have been collected and 
translated into Russian in G. E. Pavlova, M. V. Lomonosov v Vospominaniyakh i 
Kharakteristikakh Sovremennikov (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow and 
Leningrad, 1962), pp. 151-222. 

7. Pekarskii, Istoriya, pp. 446-447, suggests that this criticism may have been 
partly instigated by some of Lomonosov's enemies in St. Petersburg. 



42 



Significance of Lomonosov's Theory 

which he specifically attacked the Lomonosov theory. 8 These 
criticisms indicate that Lomonosov's views were considered 
sufficiently important to refute, and the resulting polemics 
must have called further attention to the work of the Russian 
scholar. 

Besides this, Lomonosov was in constant correspondence 
with Euler in Berlin, and Euler was favorably impressed with 
the work of his friend. In addition to inducing him to take 
part in the competition for papers on the origin of niter, he 
frequently wrote encouraging letters both to Lomonosov and 
to officials of the Russian government, and Lomonosov him- 
self sent lengthy reports of his scientific work to Euler. Euler's 
circle of friends must therefore have been informed as to 
Lomonosov's work. 

Popular attention was attracted to the Russian Academy and 
to Lomonosov himself when some spectacular event occurred. 
The two incidents most commented upon were the death of 
Lomonosov's colleague Richmann, who was killed by lightning 
while attempting to perform a variation of Franklin's experi- 
mental demonstration of the electrical nature of this phe- 
nomenon, and the freezing of mercury by Braun in 1759. 
Lomonosov took part in both these experiments. They were 
widely discussed in the general press and in scientific journals. 

Evidence that by the time of his death in 1765 Lomonosov's 
fame had reached even as far as North America is given by 
a letter to him written in 1765 by Ezra Stiles, later president 
of Yale, but then a minister in Newport, Rhode Island. He 
described weather conditions in America and asked Lomono- 
sov to furnish comparable data for Russia. 9 The letter was to 
have been forwarded by Benjamin Franklin, but Lomonosov 
died before it reached him, and it remained among Franklin's 
papers in Philadelphia. 

It can be seen that Lomonosov's name was not unknown 
to scientists in his own day, though they certainly did not 
appreciate the range and originality of his speculations. Since, 
however, his scientific reputation did not long survive him, it 

8. Pavlova, Lomonosov, p. 129. 

9. H. M. Leicester, Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniya i Tekhniki (1962), pp. 
142-147. 



Introduction 

is necessary to trace his influence on later developments in 
science mostly by inference. It is this which the Soviet his- 
torians of science have done, and it is necessary to review 
their reasoning in order to evaluate it. 

Perhaps the most speculative argument was that presented 
by Dorfman in 195 1. 10 He noted that Kirwan, in his intro- 
duction to the English translation of Scheele's Air and Fire, 
observed that Macquer had adopted a kinetic theory of heat. 
Dorfman pointed out that in his Elements de Chymie of 1749 
Macquer explained heat as due to the presence of a fire mate- 
rial, but in his Dictionnaire de Chymie of 1766 he adopted 
the kinetic theory mentioned by Kirwan. Dorfman believed 
that Macquer took this theory from the Lomonosov paper of 
1750. There is actually no evidence either for or against this 
speculation. 

A more important suggestion was then offered by Dorfman, 11 
when he observed that Lavoisier might have been influenced 
by Lomonosov's theories. The basis for this argument lies in 
the fact that Lavoisier in his paper "On Combination of Fire 
Material with Evaporating Liquids" of 1777 12 refers to a num- 
ber of related papers, including one by Richmann on the 
cooling of liquids by evaporation which appeared in the Novi 
Commentarii for 1750, and he advises his readers to consult 
these papers. The same volume of the Novi Commentarii 
contains Lomonosov's "Meditations on the Cause of Heat and 
Cold." According to Dorfman, "It seems impossible that La- 
voisier could have had in his hands the volume of the Novi 
Commentarii and read the paper by Richmann which he men- 
tioned without noting the work of Lomonosov." Dorfman also 
pointed out that in reviewing the work of those active in de- 
veloping the corpuscular theory, Lavoisier and Laplace referred 
to physicists who maintain that heat comes from a heat fluid 

10. Ya. G. Dorfman, "The Role of Lomonosov in Development of the 
Kinetic Theory of Heat/' in Lomonosov Sbornik Statei i Materialov (Academy 
of Sciences Press, Moscow and Leningrad, 1951), III, 45-47. 

11. Ibid., pp. 44-45; and also in Dorfman's Lavuaz'e, 2nd ed. (Academy of 
Sciences Press, Moscow, 1962), pp. 136-140, 190-191. For a criticism of this view, 
see P. Pomper, Ambix 10, 119-127 (1962). It is further discussed by H. M 
Leicester, Isis 58, 240-244 (1967). 

12. Memoires de I'Acadtmie des Sciences (Paris, 1777), p. 424. 



44 



Significance o Lomonosov's Theory 

and others who say it is only the result of insensible move- 
ments in the molecules of materials. Though the French writers 
mention no names, Dorfman is probably correct in suggesting 
that the last statement refers to Boyle, Bernoulli, and Lomo- 
nosov. It would certainly refer to Boyle and Bernoulli, and if 
the argument Dorfman is presenting is correct, also to Lomo- 
nosov. Dorfman further points out that in discussing his cor- 
puscles, Boyle used a number of synonyms for them, referring 
to them as "insensible," "invisible," "minute," or "small." 
Lomonosov, whose view of his corpuscles was very similar to 
Boyle's, used the phrase "insensible particles" only, and La- 
voisier and Laplace also used this term exclusively. He there- 
fore suggested that they took the term from Lomonosov. Much 
of this evidence is speculative, but the fact that Lavoisier read 
Richmann's paper a paper very similar to one of Lomonosov's 
dealing with a subject close to Lavoisier's own work certainly 
is the strongest indication that he had seen the Lomonosov 
paper. Dorfman believes the reason Lavoisier did not mention 
Lomonosov was that the latter approached the problem from 
a physical point of view, while Lavoisier was thinking chem- 
ically. That this is probably the correct answer is shown by 
a closer examination of some of Lomonosov's papers. 

There can be little doubt that Lavoisier would have been 
attracted by the title "Meditations on the Cause of Heat and 
Cold" for this was obviously related to his own work. How- 
ever, if he began to read it, he would soon find that it seemed 
to be concerned only with physical theory. There are thirty- 
five numbered paragraphs in the paper, but it is not until 
paragraph thirty-one that Lomonosov begins to consider a spe- 
cific chemical problem, the question of the existence of ele- 
mentary fire particles. Here he discusses the gain in weight of 
metals in combustion and argues against Boyle's view, but at 
this point his only positive suggestion is that the gain in weight 
is due to "particles flying around in the air which continuously 
flows around the calcining body." This picture does not differ 
essentially from those given by Mayow in 1674 and by Hooke 
in the Micrographia of 1665, and so Lavoisier would probably 
not have considered this a novel argument. He was, of course, 
unaware of Lomonosov's experimental disproof in 1756 of 
Boyle's evidence for the addition of fire particles to metals, 



45 



Introduction 

since this was not published. If he read Lomonosov's only 
published purely chemical paper, "On the Luster of Metals/' 
he would simply have been further convinced that Lomonosov 
was merely another believer in phlogiston. Therefore, in de- 
veloping his own system, in which he gave an important place 
to caloric, another name for the matter of heat, he could not 
have been expected to acknowledge a debt to Lomonosov, 
since he did not owe one. This is a further example of the 
difference in thinking of a chemist and a physicist. 

How then should we assess the significance of Lomonosov 
in science? There is almost no evidence of a direct connection 
of his work with that of any of his successors. He was in a 
sense unfortunate in that he was among the last of the great 
group of natural philosophers who saw the world in terms 
of atoms and their kinetic movements. In his day the concept 
of the ether, stemming from Descartes's second matter, was 
being transformed from that of a particulate substance into 
an "imponderable fluid." By the end of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, most scientists pictured incomprehensible phenomena 
such as light, heat, and electricity as fluids whose properties 
were explained by their flowing motion. Their particulate 
structure, if they had one, was of no more importance to these 
scientists than is the molecular structure of water flowing 
through a pipe to the hydraulic engineer. The suggestions of 
even such great figures as Boyle and Bernoulli that air was a 
mass of corpuscles were disregarded. It is no wonder that 
Lomonosov's relatively few published expositions of his theory 
were also disregarded. Yet the corpuscular viewpoint did not 
die. In a sense it went underground, but it did not completely 
disappear. Instead it divided into two branches. 

On the one hand, a few thinkers from time to time revived 
the kinetic theory of gases, and the names of Le Sage and 
Herapath come to mind as isolated figures who maintained 
this idea. 13 On the other hand, there were always a few who 
maintained a kinetic concept of heat, and even those who be- 
lieved strongly in the caloric theory were forced to note that 
some philosophers still adhered to an explanation of heat as 

13. G. R. Talbot and A. J. Pacey, British Journal of the History of Science 
5, 133-149 (1966). 



46 



Significance of Lomonosov's Theory 

the result of some sort of vibration of particles. Typical of 
these was Seguin, who in his long memoir on caloric 14 noted 
that Lavoisier and Laplace had declined to take a position 
as between the two theories, and remarked that "other phys- 
icists, though in small number, think there is no substance 
at all to which we can give the name caloric, and that heat 
is the result of insensible movements of the molecules of mat- 
ter/' Caloric was never universally adopted. 15 

It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that these two 
branches were reunited in the modern kinetic theory. Lomo- 
nosov was almost the last of the early scientists who recog- 
nized the essential unity of the two branches, and for this he 
deserves credit. 

Finally, then, the significance of Lomonosov's work can be 
appraised from two aspects. In his own country he exerted a 
considerable contemporary influence, as has been pointed out 
by Vucinich. 16 At a time when there was almost no native 
science in Russia, Lomonosov fought vigorously to establish 
one. By his one work and example, as well as by his struggles 
to defend native Russian scientists against the entrenched Ger- 
man party in the Academy, he strengthened and encouraged 
the intellectual and scientific life of his nation. His work 
opened to his contemporaries the importance of science in the 
culture and progress of a modern state and brought them closer 
to Western European ideas. The example of his activity has 
increasingly been held up to later generations by Russian his- 
torians as a guide to be emulated. Intensely patriotic as he 
was, he would be pleased to know of his present recognition 
in the Soviet Union. 

Besides this, his work is of considerable interest for its own 
sake. It reveals a keen and logical mind, well acquainted with 
the principles of the science of the day, but working in relative 
isolation and thus not bound by conventional scientific Ideas. 
The general theories of the kinetic motion of corpuscles held 
by Lomonosov were not original with him, but his strict de- 
ductions from these were his own. Sometimes his deductions 

14. A. Seguin, Annales de chimie 3, 182 (1789). 

15. For later ideas on this subject, see F. Cajori, his 4> 483-492 (1922). 

16. Russian Culture, pp. 110-112. 



47 



Introduction 

led him to surprisingly modern concepts, and sometimes they 
led him to seriously erroneous conclusions, but always they 
showed the originality o his thought. Only the study of his 
papers can reveal the full stature of the man. 



48 



The Papers of Lomonosov 
on Corpuscular Theory 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

The papers translated in the following pages have been re- 
printed from the originals several times in the U.S.S.R. In 
preparing this translation, use has been made of Lomonosov 
Polnoe Sobrannie Sochinenii (Complete Collection of Papers 
of Lomonosov), published by the Academy of Sciences, Mos- 
cow and Leningrad, in ten volumes between 1951 and 1959, 
and hereafter referred to as the Collected Works, and M. V. 
Lomonosov Izbrannye Trudy po Khimii i Fizike (M. V. Lo- 
monosov: Selected Works on Chemistry and Physics), edited 
by A. V. Topchiev, published by the Academy of Sciences, 
Moscow, 1961, hereafter referred to as the Selected Works. 
In the Collected Works both the Latin versions and Russian 
translations are given for all papers originally written or pub- 
lished in Latin. The Selected Works contains only the Russian 
texts. In preparing these translations, the Latin and Russian 
texts were compared. 

The first two of the following papers were not published 
by Lomonosov, but represent Lomonosov's corpuscular con- 
cept of chemistry and are therefore given as a background for 
his later writings. The remaining papers are presented in essen- 
tially chronological order to indicate the development of his 
thought. The places and conditions of first publication or com- 
position are given in the introduction to each paper. 



50 



Elements of Mathematical Chemistry 

This incomplete work is one of the earliest examples o the am- 
bitious tasks which Lomonosov set for himself, and which he was 
unable to finish. Nevertheless, he revealed here his concept of 
chemistry which he modified, but never basically changed, in his 
later works. 

The work was written shortly after Lomonosov returned from 
his Western European travels. It was composed in Latin between 
September and December 1741, with the title Elementa chimiae 
mathematicae, and was never published. The manuscript remained 
in the archives of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg until 
it was discovered and published in Russian translation by B, N. 
Menshutkin in 1904. Although it obviously could not have influ- 
enced scientific thinking in its day, it is basic to an understanding 
of Lomonosov's thought as revealed in his later published writings 
since it defines the terms he used. The stress on the importance of 
mechanics in chemistry, the corpuscular definitions, and the mathe- 
matical format of the work are significant indications of his ap- 
proach to chemistry. 

The Latin text and its Russian translation are given in Collected 
Works, I (1950), pp. 65-83. The Russian translation is also given 
in Selected Works, pp. 7-18. 



INTRODUCTION 

Definition I 

1) Chemistry is the science of changes occurring in mixed 
bodies since they are mixed. 

Scholium 

2) I do not doubt that there are many to whom this defini- 
tion will seem incomplete and who will complain at the ab- 
sence of principles of separation, combination, purification, and 
other expressions which fill almost all chemical books; but 
those who are shrewder will see that these expressions which 
a great many chemical authors use to excess without necessity 
for their studies can be included in one phrase, mixed bodies. 



51 



Elements of Mathematical Chemistry 

In fact, with an understanding of mixed bodies we can explain 
all their possible changes, including separations, combinations, 
etc.; we can exclude crude and organic substances and how 
cereals are broken up and ground, the growth of plants, cir- 
culation of blood in animals. 

Corollary 

3) Since in science it is accepted that we demonstrate truth, 
then in chemistry every statement should be demonstrated. 

Definition II 

4) The practical part of chemistry consists in historical 
knowledge of the changes of mixed bodies. 

Scholium 

6) 1 The practical part of chemistry, as in the other sciences, 
is a particular method of knowing; as from some of the data 
of numbers arithmetic finds others (2, Elements of Arithmetic 
[of Wolff]) so also through the practice of chemistry new bodies 
are produced from several starting substances. In this way al- 
most all the truths known up to now in chemistry have been 
discovered. 

Definition III 

7) The theoretical part of chemistry consists in a philosoph- 
ical knowledge of the changes of mixed bodies. 

Definition IV 

8) Chemistry is that which has knowledge of the changes 
of mixed bodies since they are mixed. 

Corollary 

9) This means that whoever speaks of chemistry should 
demonstrate it. 

Definition V 

10) A practical chemist is one who has knowledge of the 
historical changes which occur in mixed bodies. 

1. [Point 5 is omitted in the numbering of the manuscript.] 



52 



Elements of Mathematical Chemistry 
Definition VI 

11) A theoretical chemist is one who has a philosophical 
knowledge of the changes which occur in mixed bodies. 

Scholium 

12) If, for example, someone knows that in a vessel filled 
with water or some other liquid and placed on the fire, boil- 
ing can occur, and in fact carries out this operation, he will 
be called practical; but if he knows that water is brought to 
boiling by air expanding in it from the fire and escaping from 
it, he will be called theoretical. 

Theorem I 

13) A true chemist should be theoretical and practical. 

Demonstration 

A chemist should demonstrate everything that is spoken of 
in chemistry (8). Yet what he demonstrates must first be rec- 
ognized by him, that is, he must acquire historical knowledge 
of the changes of mixed bodies, and hence be practical (10). 
This comes first. Further, he should be able to demonstrate 
his knowledge (9), that is, to give an explanation, which as- 
sumes philosophical knowledge ( ). 2 Hence it follows that a 
true chemist should also be theoretical (11). This comes sec- 
ond. 

Corollary I 

14) Hence the true chemist should also be a philosopher. 

Corollary II 

15) One who engages in practice alone is not a true chemist. 

Corollary III 

16) But one who delights only in speculation also cannot be 
considered a true chemist. 

Lemma I 

17) All changes of bodies occur by motion. 

2. [The number is omitted in the original.] 



53 



Elements of Mathematical Chemistry 

Scholium 

18) This was shown by the illustrious W[olff]. 

Corollary I 

19) Hence changes of mixed bodies also occur by motion. 

Scholium 

20) This motion is in great part insensible and the reason 
for it cannot be perceived by the senses; therefore it is neces- 
sary to study it by reasoning. 

Corollary II 

21) The science of motion is mechanics; therefore the 
change of mixed bodies occurs mechanically. 

Corollary III 

22) And therefore these changes can be explained by the 
laws of mechanics. 

Corollary IV 

23) Actually, the quantity of motion can be determined by 
the aid of mechanics, and determination of the quantity is 
more truly recognized. Therefore changes in mixed bodies can 
be more truly recognized by the aid of mechanics. 

Corollary V 

24) Therefore, if anyone wishes the deepest understanding 
of chemical truth, he must study mechanics. 

Corollary VI 

25) And since a knowledge of mechanics assumes a knowl- 
edge of pure mathematics, then striving for a doser study of 
chemistry requires an adept in mathematics also. 

Scholium 

26) The light which mathematics can cast on the spagyric 
science can be foreseen by anyone who is devoted to its mys- 
teries and also knows the chief natural sciences that are suc- 
cessfully treated by mathematics, such as hydraulics, aerometry, 



54 



Elements of Mathematical Chemistry 

optics, etc. Everything that up to then in these sciences was 
dark, doubtful, and uncertain has been made clear, valid, and 
evident by mathematics. It is true that many deny the pos- 
sibility of establishing mechanical principles as the basis of 
chemistry, and deny it a place in the number of sciences, but 
they are led astray by dark occult properties and do not know 
that in the changes of mixed bodies the laws of mechanics are 
always found; they are also dissatisfied by vain and false spec- 
ulations which are imposed on the learned world without any 
preliminary experiments by other theoreticians who misuse 
their time. If those who for all their days had been darkened 
with smoke and soot and whose brains had been dominated 
by chaos from masses of undigested experiments had not re- 
fused to accept the most noble laws of geometry, which were 
once based strictly on Euclid and at the present time have been 
perfected by the illustrious Wolff, they certainly would have 
penetrated more deeply into the secrets of nature which they 
themselves had announced. In fact, if mathematics has led to 
truth by the comparison of several different paths, then I do 
not see any reason why for chemistry also it could not lead to 
greater generalizations from such huge existing masses of ex- 
periments. 

Scholium II 

27) Since I have had to speak of this, I intend to state the 
principles of mathematics and philosophy that I consider ap- 
propriate to establish several philosophical and mathematical 
axioms which I will often quote in the corresponding places 
where they must be introduced at one or another point. 

Axiom I 

28) The same thing cannot simultaneously be and not be. 

Axiom II 

29) Nothing can occur without sufficient reason. 

Axiom III 

30) The same things equal each other* 

Lemma II 

31) The whole equals all of its parts taken together. 



55 



Elements of Mathematical Chemistry 

Lemma III 

32) Common attributes of singularity depend on the same 
cause. 

Demonstration 

Attributes depend on substance (Wolff, Philosophia prima 
sive ontologia methodo scientifica pertractate qua omnis cog- 
nitionis humanae principia contineatur, 157); the same sub- 
stance has singularity since it belongs to one type (Ontologia, 
254), hence common attributes depend on the same substance. 
Thus there is sufficient basis for substances in common (On- 
tologia, 851), that is, there is one cause. 

Definition 

33) Change of mixed bodies, since they are mixed, is a 
change in their internal qualities. 

Scholium 

34) By internal qualities I understand everything which 
can be perceived in the body by the senses except form, mo- 
tion, and the position of the whole body. 

Corollary I 

35) In chemistry, therefore, we must show change of inner 
qualities (1, 3). 

Corollary II 

36) Since demonstration of the assertions should be drawn 
from a clear idea of the thing itself, we must have a clear idea 
of the inner qualities of the body for a discussion of that which 
is considered in chemistry. 

Corollary III 

37) Therefore part of the work should be an explanation 
of the inner qualities of bodies. 

Definition 

38) An element is part of a body which is not composed 
of any other smaller body which differs from it. 



56 



Elements of Mathematical Chemistry 
Definition 

39) A corpuscle is a collection of elements which constitute 
one small mass. 

Definition 

40) Corpuscles are homogeneous if they consist of the same 
number of the same elements combined in the same way. 

That such sorts of corpuscles exist is indicated by the 
homogeneity of mass of a body in which each part is like the 
whole. In fact, if they did not exist, such masses would not 
exist since the corpuscles would be different at any given place 
and would thus act differently on our senses and hence any 
corpuscle would be unlike any other, that is, homogeneous 
masses would not exist, which contradicts experience. 

Corpuscles are heterogeneous when their elements are dif- 
ferent and are differently combined or are in different num- 
bers. On this depends the infinite variety of bodies. 

A principle is a body composed of homogeneous corpuscles. 

A mixed body is one which consists of two or more different 
principles combined with each other so that each of the 
separate corpuscles has the same relation to the parts of the 
principle of which it is composed as the whole mixed body to 
the whole separate principles. 

Corpuscles composed directly from the elements are called 
primary. 

Corpuscles composed of several primary ones and also differ- 
ent ones are called derived. 

Thus, mixed bodies consist of derived corpuscles. 

Compound bodies are those which consist of mixed bodies 
mingled with each other. 

In discussing chemistry we must present demonstrations, and 
they should be drawn from clear presentations of the subject 
itself. A clear presentation should be obtained by an enumera- 
tion of the attributes, that is, by recognizing the parts of the 
whole; therefore it is necessary to recognize the parts of the 
mixed body, which are best of all recognized by considering 
them separately; but since they are especially small, they cannot 
be separated in mixtures, and they must be separated for recog- 
nizing mixed bodies. However, separation assumes a shift in 



57 



Elements of Mathematical Chemistry 

place of the parts, that Is, they are moved. Hence for recogniz- 
ing and demonstrating true chemistry it is necessary to know 
mechanics. 

GENERAL PART: WHAT EXISTS AND IS PERFORMED 
IN MIXED BODIES 3 

Book 1. That which exists. 

1. General positions. 2. On the nature of the constituent 
parts of mixed bodies. 3. On weight. 4. On cohesion. 5. On 
color. 6. On heat and fire. 7. On elasticity. 8. On sound. 9. On 
taste and smell. 
Book 2. On that which is performed. 

SPECIAL PART: ON MIXED BODIES IN PARTICULAR 

Book 1. Basic propositions. 

Book 2. On water. 

Book 3. On earth. 

Book 4. On the universal acid. 

Book 5. On phlogiston, on poisons. 

Separately in the second part: weight of bodies, their mass, 
cohesion. 

3. [This table of contents indicates what Lomonosov hoped to present in his 
completed work.] 



58 



Introduction to the True Physical Chemistry 

Between 1742 and 1750 Lomonosov developed and expanded his 
idea o chemistry in terms o the corpuscular theory to which he 
was devoted. His preoccupation with the physical properties o 
"mixed bodies" naturally led him to stress these properties when 
he developed a course in chemistry to be given to students at the 
university associated with the Academy of Sciences. Therefore it is 
not surprising that he should refer to his course as one in "physical 
chemistry/' a term which he was the first to use. As was often the 
case, Lomonosov did not complete his work, and, in fact, the manu- 
script that has been preserved breaks off in the middle of a sen- 
tence. Nevertheless, it is one of the longest works of its type which 
he wrote and it shows how much his ideas had grown since the 
writing of "Elements of Mathematical Chemistry." 

This Prodomus ad verum chymiam physiciam was presumably 
prepared for the course which Lomonosov actually gave at the uni- 
versity from 1752 to 1754, but it remained unpublished until 1934. 
While no longer written in the form of a mathematical treatise, it 
is still based on mechanics, and the thinking shown here is that 
which formed the background for the purely scientific papers which 
were written somewhat earlier. The Latin text and Russian trans- 
lation are given in Collected Works, II (1951), pp. 481-577. The 
Russian translation is also given in Selected Works, pp. 176-219. 



CHAPTER 1. PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY AND ITS 
PURPOSE 

1 

Physical chemistry is the science which explains whatever oc- 
curs in mixed bodies through chemical operations on the basis 
of the principles and experiments of physics. It can also be 
called chemical philosophy, but in an entirely different sense 
than the mystical philosophy in which explanations not only 
are hidden, but even the operations themselves are carried out 
secretly. 

2 
We have ventured to call this work physical chemistry be- 



59 



The True Physical Chemistry 

cause we have decided, by devoting all our efforts to it, to 
bring together in it only what is contributed by a scientific ex- 
planation of mixed bodies. Therefore we consider it necessary 
that everything relating to the sciences of economics, pharmacy, 
metallurgy, glassmaking, etc. should be excluded from it and 
assigned to the course in technical chemistry so that 1) every- 
one will easily find the information which he needs and will 
read it without boredom; 2) the memory will not be overbur- 
dened by studying so many different cases; 3) philosophical 
contemplation of the beauty of nature will not be corrupted 
by a rash desire for gain; 4) the studious cultivator of chemis- 
try will approach it with a clear understanding of mixed bodies 
in order to increase the conveniences of life by its aid. 



We call chemistry a science in imitation of the writers on 
natural philosophy who, though they explain only the most 
important phenomena of nature, so that very much remains 
doubtful and still more remains unknown, nevertheless cor- 
rectly embellish physics with the name of a science on the basis 
not of knowledge, but of the final ends of physics. For no one 
can deny that however little we have succeeded in explaining 
chemical phenomena by the methods of physics, we should 
properly use these methods with the same right as does physics 
itself. 

4 

We have said that chemical science considers the qualities 
and changes of bodies. Quality has a double nature, namely, 
one which produces visible ideas in us, the other only sensible 
ones. The first type of quality includes mass, shape, motion or 
rest, and place position of each perceptible body; the second 
type includes color, taste, healing power, cohesion of particles, 
etc. The first are perceptible to the eye and are determined by 
geometrical and mechanical laws, examples of which they 
demonstrate; the causes for the second type lie in the particles 
which do not reach the sharp vision and therefore these quali- 
ties cannot be determined by geometry and mechanics without 
the help of physical chemistry. The first by necessity are present 
in all bodies, the second only in some. Therefore we consider 



60 



The True Physical Chemistry 

it desirable, according to the style of Boyle, to call the first 
qualities universal, the second, particular. 

5 

A mixed body is one which consists of two or several 
heterogeneous bodies joined to each other in such a way that 
any sensible part of this body is exactly like any other of its 
parts with respect to particular qualities. Thus, gunpowder 
consists of niter, sulfur, and charcoal, heterogeneous types of 
bodies, and any part of it, evident to the senses, is exactly like 
any other part in color, cohesion of the parts, explosive power, 
etc. Bodies which make up mixed bodies, here niter, sulfur, 
and charcoal, are called constituent bodies. 



Constituent bodies are often themselves mixed bodies con- 
sisting of other heterogeneous bodies; thus in this case sulfur 
consists of an acid material and another, the combustible one; 
niter consists of a particular acid and an alkali salt; charcoal of 
an oil, a bitter acid spirit, and an ash. Constituent bodies of 
such a nature we call constituents of the second order, and if 
they in their turn are mixed bodies, then we call their con- 
stituents constitutents of the third order. We cannot, however, 
proceed thus to infinity, but there must finally exist constit- 
uents which it is impossible to separate from each other by any 
chemical operation or to distinguish by reason; therefore such 
constituent bodies are designated as the final ones, or, in the 
language of the chemist, principles. 



Since mixed bodies are like each other in all sensible parts 
(5) then it follows that any sensible particle of them is com- 
posed of the same constituents; therefore in mixed bodies there 
should be particles which, if submitted to further separation 
would split into different particles of the heterogeneous bodies 
of which the mixed body consists. The first particles we call 
particles of the mixed body, the second, particles of the con- 
stituents. The first type is represented by particles of gun- 
powder which can be split only into sulfur, niter, and charcoal; 
the second type is represented by the particles of niter, sulfur, 



61 



The True Physical Chemistry 

and charcoal themselves which in the gunpowder form the 
particles of the mixed body. It Is appropriate to call the par- 
ticles of the ultimate constituents the particles of principles. 

o 
O 

From the definition of a mixed body and the examples, it 
follows that different qualities and phenomena arise from 
heterogeneous mixed bodies and therefore to explain the 
particular qualities of bodies and their changes we must have 
knowledge of their composition. Hence the duty of chemistry 
Is to study both the composition of bodies available to the senses 
and the composition of those from which the mixed bodies 
were first formed, namely, the principles. The following chap- 
ters will show by what path, by what chemical means and 
physical help this can be done. 



CHAPTER 2. THE PARTICULAR QUALITIES OF 
MIXED BODIES 

9 

In the first place we must establish those qualities of the 
mixed bodies which depend on different cohesion of the par- 
ticles, for no changes of mixed bodies in chemistry can occur 
without change in the cohesion of the particles. 

10 

From different cohesion of the particles first of all arise solid 
and liquid bodies. Solid bodies are those whose shape cannot 
be changed without external force, and liquids are those whose 
particles slip around each other by their own weight and which 
form an upper surface parallel to the horizon, and the rest of 
their particles acquire the shape of the hollow which contains 
this body. 

11 

Solid bodies are hard or ductile. Hard bodies under the force 
of a blow are split into pieces; ductile ones yield to a blow not 
by breaking, but by being drawn out into a sheet or wire. In 
both cases the quality of the resistance differs according to the 



62 



The True Physical Chemistry 

cohesion between the particles, and it cannot in any way be 
definitely set, since it can be infinitely varied. 

12 

A hard body is rigid or brittle. A rigid body requires great 
force and tools for breaking up the cohesion of the particles; 
a brittle one is broken by pressure or by squeezing it with the 
fingers. Finally, a brittle body can crumble or be cracked. 
When the body is crumbled, it is split by the application of 
force into grains or into a powder, as we see in the case of 
marble and dry clay. When a body is cracked, it breaks up into 
platelets of very fine fibers, as we see in the case of selenite 
and asbestos. 

13 

A liquid body is either viscous or thin. A thin one quickly 
follows the surface of the cavity containing it when this is 
changed; a viscous one does so slowly. Water belongs to the 
first type, tar, honey, etc. to the second. 

14 

Physicists also distinguish liquid from fluid bodies. They call 
liquid those bodies whose cohering particles flow and form 
drops, like water. Fluid bodies are those which change in a 
special way, whose particles slide without cohesion. Such a body 
is alabaster which changes into a powder when it is calcined. 

15 

It seems likely, if it is not always so, that in solid bodies the 
flexibility depends chiefly on the cohesion of the particles. 
Flexibility is the quality of bodies by virtue of which their 
shape, changed by external pressure, is restored to the original: 
such as fibers of iron, glass, etc. 

16 

As the flexibility of solid bodies comes chiefly from the co- 
hesion of the particles, so on the property of the flexibility of 
solid bodies itself depends their sonorousness, which is defined 
as the sensible continuation of sound after imposing a blow on 
the body. Bodies with this property are called sonorous, such 



63 



The True Physical Chemistry 

as bronze, iron, etc. It is shown by everyday experience that 
the sonorousness in bodies of different sorts is different and 
the mass and shape have a very great effect on strengthening or 
weakening it. 

17 

After discussing the qualities which depend on difference in 
cohesion of the particles, we must next establish those which 
act on the sense of vision. This is necessary because of the 
nobility of the corresponding sense organ and the almost end- 
less variety of these qualities. There is not one mixed body, 
whether extracted by the tireless work of mortals from the sub- 
terranean kingdom of nature, or obtained from the brilliant 
treasury of the flowers, or, finally, prepared from the parts of 
animals, whose color, glittering lively luster or rough, pleasant 
appearance or wonderful variety cannot be imitated by the 
work of the chemist. 

18 

The eye distinguishes most clearly of all an opaque body 
from a transparent one. An opaque body is one which, when 
placed between the eye and an object, does not permit the 
image of the latter to be reproduced in the eye. A body is 
called transparent if, when placed between the eye and an ob- 
ject it passes the image clearly and distinctly to the eye. The 
first type of body includes marble, metals, etc., the second, 
water, quartz, and things similar to them. This definition is 
not altered by different shapes into which the transparent body 
is changed or multiplied by refraction of light: in chemistry 
we consider the mixed body to be transparent and not its super- 
ficial differences. 

19 

Transparent bodies do not always transmit to the eye with 
equal clarity the image of an object placed beyond them, but 
it is often seen, as it were, wrapped in a cloud. Such clouding 
or darkening occurs differently and differs in degree for dif- 
ferent bodies, so that one is less clear than another, and finally 
they gradually approach an opaque body. Those which occupy 
a middle position between transparent and opaque and pass 



64 



The True Physical Chemistry 

such jumbled light that the form of the object which is trans- 
mitted is run together are called semitransparent, like the min- 
eral chalcedony, fish glue, and similar bodies. 

20 

Transparent and opaque bodies are smooth or rough. A 
smooth body gives on itself an image of an object presented 
to it; a rough body does not give this. Smooth bodies here are 
those bodies which assume a smooth surface without the in- 
tervention of human work, such as water, ice, mercury, opaque 
and transparent glass; rough bodies are like marble at the 
point of fracture, dry clay, and similar substances. From mirror 
smoothness to roughness which entirely prevents an object 
from giving an image on the surface of the body there are 
evidently almost infinite degrees of smoothness; the images of 
the objects are reflected with differing clarities, just as there are 
differing transmissions through semitransparent bodies. 

21 

We have noted that smooth bodies may be shining or lus- 
trous, and we make a distinction, defining shining bodies as 
those which, being exposed to daylight, reflect parallel white 
light, whatever their own color, and we call those bodies lus- 
trous which on exposure to daylight, reflect parallel light of 
the same color as themselves. We find the first in glass, the 
second chiefly in metals. Placed opposite a window the smooth 
surface of glass, even if very black, gives a white image of the 
window, but gold a yellow one, copper a reddish one. 

22 

It is impossible to give a definition of the colors by which 
bodies act on our eyes, or to enumerate their variety. But it is 
quite certain that there exist some colors which originate from 
others, mixed with each other, and some which cannot be ob- 
tained by this method. Thus we can make up an orange color 
from red and yellow, green from yellow and blue, violet from 
blue and red, but red, yellow, and blue can be created from 
no others, as is clearly shown by mixing colored powders or by 
blending the sun's rays, about which we will speak in more de- 
tail in the theoretical part ( . . .) Therefore red, yellow, and 



65 



The True Physical Chemistry 

blue colors are called simple and all other colors except black 

(which is not a color) are called mixed. 

23 

Since mixtures of simple colors can be varied almost end- 
lessly, we can obtain an almost endless number of mixed colors, 
for the designation and clear distinguishing of which we evi- 
dently lack names, number, or measure. Therefore for de- 
scribing the colors of chemical bodies so that the reader can 
understand correctly and clearly, we will define the different 
changes in the quality of colors by comparison with substances 
of constant color. 

24 

Thus, in order to distinguish most clearly the simple and 
pure colors from the others, we will call red that color which 
we see in blood, in hydrangea petals, in wool colored with 
carmine, and in minium; yellow is the color found in an in- 
fusion of saffron, in camomile, and in the best ocher; finally, 
blue, present in the clear sky, is in cornflowers and blue ultra- 
marine powder. Thus we will call the first color red, bloody, 
or carmine, the second yellow and saffron, and, finally, the third 
blue, cornflower, or ultramarine. 

25 

Between these colors there are also three: the first consists 
of bloody and saffron, the second of saffron and blue, the third 
of blue and bloody, mixed in equal parts. There is a sufficient 
similarity to the first color in orange peel, and in the petals 
of a large African flower; the second in green meadows; the 
third in turquoise; therefore we call the first orange, the second 
green or herbaceous, the third turquoise. From the three sim- 
ple colors combined in proper proportions we obtain white; 
the absence of all color is the cause of blackness. This is all 
clearly discussed in optics, and we intend to discuss this in 
more detail in the theoretical part. 

25* 
As we have established the differences between the chief 



I. [In the manuscript there are two 25 's and no 29.] 



66 



The True Physical Chemistry- 
varieties of color by comparing them with substances, we con- 
sider it expedient to describe all the other colors originating 
from different and unequal mixtures of the simple colors and 
from different brightnesses of color by comparing them with 
generally known substances and denoting the intensity of the 
predominant color. 

26 

After we have described the sense of the eye, we proceed to 
differences in the sense of the tongue which we call different 
tastes. A substance is said to have taste when it causes a pleasant 
or unpleasant sensation on the tongue, and to be tasteless when 
it does not do this. The chief and very distinctive tastes are: 
1) acid, as in vinegar; 2) burning, as with spirit of wine; 3) 
sweet, as with honey; 4) bitter, as with pitch; 5) salty, as with 
salt; 6) sharp, as with a radish; 7) sour, as with unripe fruit. 
Which of these is simple and which complex cannot be ex- 
plained until we learn the nature of the principles. 

27 

As for colors, so for taste we know an almost infinite variety 
originating from different mixtures of the tastes named above 
and their differing sharpnesses depending on the admixture of 
tasteless substances. Therefore in chemical practice we can 
designate bodies differing in taste just as in the case of colors, 
by known comparisons and by designating the tastes belonging 
to them. 

28 

Odors, acting on the sense of smell, in great part correspond 
to tastes, so that, for example, that which has an acid taste 
also acts on us as an acid odor. For designating and characteriz- 
ing odors, almost infinite in variety, we cannot do otherwise 
than was done for tastes. 

30 

It remains to say something about the inner properties of 
mixed bodies which can be produced naturally or artificially 
what is their ability to attract, repel, create an ignis fatuus, 
burn spontaneously, etc. and also their medicinal or poisonous 



67 



The True Physical Chemistry 

powers. Here it is enough to mention that everything is de- 
scribed in its place; when we try to study the properties of the 
first type in considering mixed bodies, there are suitable meth- 
ods described below ( ). For the second type where necessary 
we borrow from famous physicians because experiments for 
revealing them have not been instituted by chemists. 



CHAPTER 3. ON THE MEDIA BY WHICH BODIES ARE 

CHANGED 

31 

Mixed bodies are changed by addition or loss of one or sev- 
eral constituents ( ). Here it is necessary that each corpuscle 
of the mixed body take up or lose one or several corpuscles 
of the constituents. But this cannot occur without change of 
the bonds of the particles. Therefore forces are required which 
could nullify the cohesion between the particles. Fire produces 
such action most easily of all: there is not one body in nature 
whose inner parts would be insensitive to it, and there are no 
mutual bonds of the particles which it could not rupture. 

32 

There are five conditions which chemists should usually ob- 
serve concerning fire: 1) degree of intensity; 2) its relation to 
the body undergoing its action; 3) length of time; 4) rate of 
progressive motion; 5) its form. 

33 

The intensity of the fire cannot be judged by sense of touch 
nor by variation of the light given off by the burning body, nor 
by the boiling of liquids, nor by melting or solidifying of 
bodies. Touch is not always useful for this and is very often 
deceiving; a luminous body is often less hot than a dark one; 
thus the flame of burning oakum is less hot than iron close to 
glowing; mixed liquids boil when they are much cooler than 
some others which have not yet boiled; finally, the same fire 
which melts one body converts another from the liquified state 
into a solid. The single most certain measure of fire is found 
in the rarefaction of bodies, on which the thermometer and 



The True Physical Chemistry 

pyrometer are based. These instruments are especially useful 
to the chemist for finding the intensity of the fire; but we will 
speak of them in detail in their own place. 

34 

However, in nature there are some changes of bodies which 
embody as some limit a definite number of degrees of the 
thermometer or pyrometer and constantly correspond to the 
same point; it is not superfluous here to indicate them briefly, 
because we use these limits to establish more clearly our ideas 
about the intensity of the fire. It is also suitable to introduce 
the name of the temperature region for a known number of 
degrees on the thermometer or pyrometer between constant 
limits, so that by words used directly there is no complication 
and no difficulty for the reader. Therefore, first of all, heat or 
fire from the least to the greatest as met in nature is divided 
into temperature regions and these into degrees. 

35 

The first and lowest temperature region begins from the 
lowest degree of heat, or, which is the same thing, from the 
greatest degree of cold, which as yet no one has observed or 
demonstrated. It ends at the temperature where water begins 
to freeze; this limit is always constant and unchanged and is 
based on an effect which is very important and has the greatest 
significance in natural affairs. Fire of this temperature region 
can be used scarcely or not at all by any chemist. However, we 
intend here to pursue some perhaps rather important chemical 
experiments. Below the freezing point of water many substances 
still remain liquid and hence have not fully lost the force 
needed for chemical action. The second temperature region 
begins where the first ends. We take as its higher limit that 
point which is reached by the greatest observed summer heat 
and about that which is found for the heat of a healthy human 
being. The third temperature region extends from here to the 
boiling point of water; the fourth is established between boil- 
ing water and boiling mercury. The fifth extends from there 
to the heat at which copper melts. Finally, the sixth tempera- 
ture region, beginning at the melting of copper, reaches the 
highest degree o fire, if such exists. All the limits of tempera- 



69 



The True Physical Chemistry 

ture noted here produce important effects which have enor- 
mous significance both in nature and in chemistry itself. 

36 

Similarly with respect to the properties of each body and 
for each chemical work the chemist should use a definite de- 
gree of fire, so that it is necessary to regulate its quantity very 
carefully in order not to use too little or too great an amount 
of fire with respect to the volume of the body used for chemical 
investigation. Actually, in the first case we do not attain the 
desired results and in the second we expend toil and labor in 
vain. 

37 

It is also necessary to note still a third circumstance, that a 
weaker fire often is much more effective than a strong one for 
subduing a stubborn body. In some cases definite bodies are 
more easily broken down by time than by force. Therefore the 
chemist, carrying out an experiment, should consider carefully 
where a slow fire is needed and where a strong one. 

38 

Different rates of motion found in an expanding flame help 
much the effect of the force of the fire. Thus we see that among 
goldsmiths iron wire of about the thickness of one line can- 
not be heated in the flame of a burner to the temperature at 
which iron melts if this flame is not put into swiftest motion by 
the breath from a blowpipe. Therefore, we must again re- 
mind the chemist that he must know how to excite motion 
of a flame when this is required. 

39 

Different forms of using fire are: that either there penetrates 
into the heated body the heat alone, or the flame itself sur- 
rounds and touches the body directly. There are experiments 
well enough known in the practice of chemistry which occur 
somewhat differently because of this effect, although the same 
degree of fire is used in the course of the same period of time. 
Therefore, let the chemist note where it is necessary to use pure 
heat and where flame. 



70 



The True Physical Chemistry 
40 

For flames it is necessary to consider different combustible 
materials: whether wood or coal and whether coal or charcoal 
and from what wood. For how they burn depends on dense- 
ness or porousness, fatness or thinness, dryness or moisture, 
and the flame itself may be pure or smoking, and with other 
conditions equal, the effects are often changed. 

41 

Fire cannot make a great difference in abolishing or weaken- 
ing or in any other way changing the strength of cohesion be- 
tween the particles of a mixed body if it is not helped by water 
or air, separately or together; it separates particles liberated 
from their bonds, transfers them, and interposes others be- 
tween them. Thus, fire naturally changes the cohesion between 
particles, and air and water change their positions. Therefore 
the first as it were is the instrument and the other two the 
vehicles. We will state here in a few words the care with which 
we must use these terms. 

42 

Air combines with mixed bodies in two ways: either flowing 
around them and depositing on their surfaces, or by occupy- 
ing their pores. In the latter case we must speak of it as inter- 
nal, in the first case, as external. The influence of either type 
on chemical phenomena is rather great. 

43 

External air, as found immobile on the surface of bodies, 
often changes the mixed bodies by shifting the characteristic 
particles of the latter with the aid of fire, and when it is found 
in motion it brings foreign particles to them, particles which 
it carries within itself, or it carries away with itself the particles 
torn away from the bodies, or both processes occur at once. The 
faster the motion of the air, the more foreign particles are 
brought, or the more natural particles of the bodies are carried 
away. 

44 

Particles carried by the motion of air to mixed bodies are 
either taken from the atmosphere itself or are supplied artifi- 



71 



The True Physical Chemistry 

daily by the chemist. The first differ depending on the weather, 
the nature and position, the number of inhabitants, and oc- 
currence near a workshop; the second depend on the nature 
of the fuel used for maintaining the fire or on the nature of 
the body specially taken for the experiment. It is necessary in 
both cases that the chemist be careful: 1) not to consider the 
action of air identical when it comes from swampy places, in 
summer time, or from a place near to which much sulfur is 
roasted out of metals, or the action of a drier and purer air; 
2) not to assume that material is added from the fuel or from 
any neighboring body except for what is natural to the body 
itself. 

45 

Internal air, contained in the pores of a body, should of 
necessity saturate them because of the greater subtlety of its 
finer particles, especially if the body is sweet scented. There- 
fore, as soon as the particles of the body are freed from mutual 
cohesion they are scattered and the internal air is mixed with 
the external; the more subtle particles escape from the mixed 
body and so a considerable change in quality must result. 

46 

Then the internal air, liberated from the separated body 
and inflated by the subtle vapors, often occupies a surpris- 
ingly large space and exerts a very strong force against an ob- 
stacle. That is why the chemist is warned, so that this inflating 
air, seeking an outlet may not break the vessel with damage 
to the work, to expensive materials, and even to health. 

47 

Experiment shows that there are several forms of water dis- 
tinguished by the bodies with which they are impregnated. In 
rain water we find one property, in river water another, and 
in spring water a third. When rain from on high falls through 
the atmosphere it takes to itself the sulfurous and salty vapors 
which it encounters. Therefore, if the water stands for several 
days in the sun in summer, a greenish tint develops; it fur- 
nishes food for plants also. River water contains salty particles 



72 



The True Physical Chemistry 

washed out from the earth, from fermenting, decaying, and 
burned bodies brought by the streams flowing from all sides; 
many of these particles are detected in the residue when the 
pure water vapor is scattered into the air by heat. Spring water 
very often, almost always, carries in itself minerals dissolved 
in the mountains which can often be detected by taste, some- 
times by smell. 

48 

How many of these impurities cause injury in chemical ac- 
tions is well enough known from technical chemistry: thus, 
dyers, brewers, and other craftsmen complain that in their arts 
they cannot attain the same degree of perfection using just any 
sort of water. Therefore in chemical investigations carried out 
for a physical understanding of mixed bodies we must take 
only the purest water which can be found or prepared, if we 
do not wish to be deceived in discovering the secrets of nature. 

49 

The processes by which we must purify the water will be 
given below. Of the natural waters the purest is most simply 
prepared from snow not contaminated by dust, especially from 
that which falls after a severe frost in quiet weather, for the 
surface of the earth, confined by the severity of winter and 
covered with snow emits salty and combustible vapors, as in 
summer. In second place stands river water flowing under ice 
in midwinter. At this time the streams generated by rains do 
not contain impurities, nor does dust generated by the wind 
make them cloudy and saturated with salty substances; but we 
draw it as it comes from the earth filtered through the sandy 
shore. The third place is held by rain water. Other water can- 
not be used without study and purification. 

50 

Actually the changes produced by water in the composition 
of bodies are aggravated by the fact that water itself is the chief 
constituent part in many bodies, so that after its removal their 
form is completely altered. Therefore water used as a medium 
should be strictly distinguished from water which exists in the 
body itself as a constituent part or has considerable significance 



The True Physical Chemistry 

among the other constituent parts along with which it forms 
the mixed body. 

51 

Such are the true and genuine media without which, or es- 
pecially without two of them, no changes can be produced in 
mixed bodies* Besides these, other authors name many more, 
almost an infiinite number of chemical media, as many as there 
are different mixed bodies which act on each other with the 
help of fire, air, and water. But to describe and explain them 
all seems to me to be the same as to give an account of all 
chemistry in the introduction to it before an account of it it- 
self. Therefore we have decided to describe the interactions of 
mixed bodies and the different constituent parts in the place 
needed for each. 



CHAPTER 4. ON CHEMICAL OPERATIONS 

52 

Chemical operations are those processes which with the help 
of chemical media change mixed bodies, since they are mixed. 
With the aid of this definition we can easily determine which 
chemical operations are basic and genuine and which are only 
subsidiary. Thus, the first either 1) combine separate constitu- 
ents into a mixed body, or 2) separate a mixed body into its 
constituents, or 3) simultaneously do one and the other, or 4) 
change the ratio of the amounts of constituents, or, finally, 5) 
shift the positions of the particles in the mixed body. In all 
cases there is a change in the individual qualities, one or sev- 
eral. The second operation does not lead to anything similar, 
but permits preparation of the body for the basic operation. 

53 

We separate the basic chemical operations into general and 
special, or into primary and secondary. We call the six general 
ones: relaxation, concretion, solution, precipitation, digestion, 
and sublimation. Several are called special or secondary, and 
most of these were devised by chemists not because of different 
manners of their action, but on different materials. Excluding 



74 



The True Physical Chemistry 

all the unnecessary ones of these, we will consider the most 
Important of them along with the primary ones, each In its 
place. 

54 

Relaxation Is weakening or even destruction of the cohesion 
between the particles of bodies. This type of operation is In- 
troduced and placed with the others with full reason, since 1) 
it changes the main qualities in bodies, 2) it opens a road to 
alteration of mixed bodies, and 3) it shows the different forces 
of cohesion between particles in most bodies. 

55 

Relaxation changes most of all the position of the particles 
of a mixed body (52, No. 5), although other changes occur 
often enough depending on the character of the different types 
of this operation, which number five: melting., softening, dilu- 
tion, calcination, and preparation. 

56 

Melting is the conversion of a solid body into a liquid, car- 
ried out with the help of fire. The usual example is seen in 
the work of the goldsmith and many other craftsmen who deal 
chiefly with the melting of metals. By this operation the bond 
between particles is most weakened, and two or more heterog- 
eneous bodies are easily combined into one, or, if a mixed 
body, are separated. 

57 

Softening is the change with the aid of heat of hard bodies 
into soft ones; it is as it were some degree toward melting; it 
must be distinguished from melting only because sometimes 
two bodies, due to their mixing, do not reach their combined 
melting point, for at such a strength of the fire the subtlest 
and most active particles have flown off into the air. 

58 

Dilution is the conversion of a liquid body from a thicker 
to a thinner liquid by adding a more considerable amount of 
aqueous humor, or of other liquid resembling one of the con- 



75 



The True Physical Chemistry 

stituents of the body which is diluted. It has many varied uses, 
for a perfectly liquid body is more easily mixed, and heavier 
heterogeneous materials settle faster to the bottom, and from 
an extremely active substance, milder ones result. An example 
often seen among asayers and engravers on copper is the dilu- 
tion of aqua fortis with water so that it is made milder and 
produces more accurate effects. 

59 

Calcination is the transformation of a solid or liquid body 
into a powder by a strong fire. A common example can be seen 
in a sculptor's statue where for preparation of an image ala- 
baster is converted by strong fire into a powder. In this oper- 
ation there is complete separation of the cohering particles and 
a way is opened for entry of foreign bodies which can be com- 
bined. 

60 

Preparation is the conversion of a strong, solid body into a 
powder by ignition and quenching with water, repeated sev- 
eral times with the aid of grinding. By this method we can 
break down the most resistant solid stones and make them, un- 
conquerable as they are by other methods, soft and available 
for treatment. An example is supplied by jewelers who by the 
method described above prepare emery for polishing stones. 

61 

Concretion consists in this, that particles of a mixed body 
which has constituents with weak or completely destroyed co- 
hesion are converted to a state of closer mutual bonds. This 
operation reverses the preceding. Usually relaxation is the be- 
ginning of all experiments and concretion their end; the first 
opens, the second closes. 

62 

The types of concretion, which in great part consists in the 
alteration of the position of the particles of the mixed body, 
are nine: freezing, setting, thickening, crystallization, coagula- 
tion, hardening, petrification, vitrifying, and annealing. 



76 



The True Physical Chemistry 
63 

Freezing is the transformation of a liquid body into a solid 
by lessening the degree of fire; an example is any metal cooled 
after melting, and also the freezing of water. This operation 
reverses melting; it is especially suitable for conversion of het- 
erogeneous bodies combined by mutual mixing into a solid 
compound. 

64 

Setting is the conversion of a soft body into a hard one. It 
reverses softening and is carried out by lessened heat. 

65 

Thickening is the transformation of a thin liquid into a 
thick one, or even into a solid body, by removal of excess 
moisture. It is carried out either by gentle heat, without ap- 
parent motion of the liquid, or by stronger fire, with boiling. In 
the first case this operation can be called evaporation, in the 
second, boiling off. Common examples occur in salt making 
where brine is evaporated, and in confectionary shops which 
prepare sweets from the thickened juice of berries. 

66 

Crystallization is carried out when a liquid body made 
thicker by evaporation or boiling off and left to stand quietly 
in a cold place is partly converted to solid, angular grains. 
Chemists use this operation for collecting together solid bodies 
dispersed in a liquid. Examples are found in salt making and 
places for preparing niter. 

67 

Coagulation is the transformation of a thin liquid into a 
thick one or a thick liquid into a soft solid body, produced 
without marked evaporation. We see examples in the boiling 
of eggs and in the coagulation of milk. 

68 

Hardening is quenching of heated metal in water to convert 
it from a ductile body into a strong one. This operation is very 



77 



The True Physical Chemistry 

often used among craftsmen, especially by gunsmiths, but it 
should also have value in physical chemistry. 

69 

Vitrifying occurs when a body in the form of a powder is 
melted by a strong fire through liquification to a lustrous solid 
body which when heated can be drawn out into fibers. Exam- 
ples can be seen in glass manufacture and in the laboratories 
of assayers; also among goldsmiths who in this way decorate 
necklaces, rings, etc., with enamel. By this operation many dif- 
ferent mixed bodies are combined with strong bonds. 

70 

Petrification is the conversion, by the force of fire, of a 
powdered body converted by water into a paste which is given 
a desired definite form into a stony substance which is slowly 
dried. This operation differs from vitrifying by the fact that 
here the material is not liquified and the resulting stony body 
does not soften on calcination and cannot be drawn into fibers. 
Examples are common among potters and brickmakers, but are 
best seen among workers with porcelain objects. The results, 
in the sense of forming mixed bodies, are similar to those ob- 
tained with vitrifying. 

71 

Annealing occurs when a body converted into the state of a 
glass or stone is submitted to prolonged action of a somewhat 
lower degree of heat than is used in ignition, and is then 
gradually cooled, which assures even cohesion of the particles 
and lessens brittleness. Also, by the help of this operation many 
things are produced with a pleasant appearance from colored 
glass. 

72 

Solution occurs when a liquid body acts on another, solid or 
even liquid, so that successively its particles are torn off from 
their cohesion and bonds to another body joined to them, and 
by destruction and combination, a mixed body is formed. The 
body which produces the solution is called the solvent by 
chemists. 



78 



The True Physical Chemistry 
73 

There are two kinds of solution: complete and partial. The 
first occurs when the dissolving body passes wholly Into the 
solvent; the second when some constituent part is precipitated 
from the dissolving body by the strong solvent and combines 
with it. There are several varieties of the first; the second Is a 
single one of the varieties of this operation, which number 
nine: solution proper, extraction, digestion, elution, amalgama- 
tion, cementation, corrosion, deliquescence, and solution in 
vapor. 

74 

Solution proper occurs when particles of solid or also of a 
liquid body immersed in the solvent are broken off successively 
from the surface and are distributed throughout the solvent 
itself. We see an example daily when salt or sugar dissolve in 
water. 

75 

The solution is called partial when some mixture consists 
of two heterogeneous bodies of which only one is dissolved in 
the solvent and the second, even if it is in a state of the finest 
particles, does not mix with the solvent; this can be seen among 
assayers, when gold is separated from silver with the aid of 
aqua fortis. 

76 

Extraction occurs when the solvent, as is always the case 
with spirit of wine, draws out some constituent part from 
bodies immersed in it, and takes this into its own composition. 
A common example is daily found when aqua vitae is saturated 
with aromatic substances. The very name and definition show 
that this type of operation is always partial. It is distinguished 
from the preceding one by the fact that that type is used more 
for minerals, and this for plant substances; the former dis- 
solves a greater part of the body, this dissolves a lesser part. 

77 

Digestion is almost the same as extraction and differs only 
in the degree of fire and nature of the solvent, for here water 



79 



The True Physical Chemistry 

brought to boiling by fire is always used. The common exam- 
ples, before the eyes of everyone, are seen in the kitchen. 

78 

Elution is the separation of the salty parts from powdered 
bodies by warm water and shaking. The usual example is the 
alkali washed from ashes and very widely used by launderers. 

79 

Amalgamation is the solution of metals or metallic bodies 
in quicksilver. An example can be found among goldsmiths 
who dissolve gold in quicksilver for gilding silver and copper 
objects. This operation is called partial when a mixture, one 
of whose constituents does not undergo the action of the sol- 
vent, is placed in this solvent. 

80 

Cementation occurs when the dissolving body and the solvent 
are solid bodies and therefore are put in a vessel one upon 
the other in successive layers and are covered and submitted 
to the action of a known degree of heat so that the dissolving 
body which lies below is dissolved by the solvent and is partly 
or completely melted. An example is found among goldsmiths 
who separate gold from lower metals by salt cementation. 

81 

Corrosion is that solution in which corpuscles of the dis- 
solved body in great part fall to the bottom of the vessel in 
the form of a powder. 

82 

Solution in a vapor occurs when the exhalations of the sol- 
vent act on a suspended body and, dissolving it, combine with 
it. 



Almost the same sort of an operation as solution in a vapor 
is attributed to deliquescence: this is nothing else than solution 
of a body placed in moist air by water vapor. An example is 
the frequently occurring deliquescence of common salt in moist 
air. 



80 



The True Physical Chemistry 

84 

Precipitation occurs when heterogeneous bodies, mixed with 
each other, interact so that one takes away from the other one 
of its constituent parts and adds it to itself, thrusting out the 
residue. This is often accompanied by effervescence and change 
in the qualities of the particles, preferably those which act on 
the sense of vision. It follows from the definition that precipita- 
tion occurs by the third method (52). 

85 

Precipitation in the strict sense is settling out in the form of 
a powder of a body soluble in the liquid when another body is 
added. This operation gives many and astonishing results: a 
common example can be seen in the preparation of ink from 
a solution of iron vitriol and a decoction of gall nuts. 

86 

Reduction is the reverse transformation of a metal or semi- 
metal, which has taken the form of a powder or slag, into 
metallike form. Many examples are encountered in assaying 
and even among those who are almost artisans manufacturing 
metallic objects. Reduction of mercury is denoted by the spe- 
cial name, revivification. 

87 

Detonation occurs when a body undergoes the action of open 
fire, so that the constituent parts driven out are fired by the 
flame and are destroyed by it with a sudden noise. An example 
of this is often found in assaying when black flux is prepared. 

88 

Cuppelation is the separation of gold or silver from combina- 
tion with other bodies by the aid of lead in a slag crucible 
called the cupple. There are many examples in assaying and 
goldsmithing. 

89 

Chemical growth occurs when, after precipitation, the sep- 
arated constituent grows like some sort of plant. Such an opera- 
tion is produced in chemical laboratories as, for example, in 



81 



The True Physical Chemistry 

obtaining the arbor Dianae; this has no value for usefulness or 
convenience of life. 

90 

Digestion is the prolonged treatment of mixed bodies by fire 
or moderate, uniform heat, due to which the insensible par- 
ticles of the body, set in motion, change their arrangement in 
the mixed body. Therefore such an operation belongs to the 
fifth type (52). There are four different types: mineral diges- 
tion, fermentation, putrefaction, and reverberation. 

91 

We call mineral digestion the operation by which in minerals 
treated in a closed vessel a constituent part changes its position 
in such a way that the part previously surrounded by another 
emerges. Alchemists use this operation very widely. 

92 

Fermentation is digestion occurring at moderate heat by 
means of which substances, preferably from plants, are freed 
from combination with other spiritous and vinegary parts. 
Examples are met almost everywhere and daily. 

93 

Putrefaction is digestion with very weak heat by which there 
is liberation from combination with other materials of the 
urinous constituent parts, chiefly from animal substances. 
Examples are met very often, even in spite of our wishes. 

94 

Reverberation is a longer calcination of a body, converting 
it to a powder by directing a flame onto it. This operation 
often follows directly on calcination and therefore it may be 
confused with it by some who have not studied the nature of 
the matter sufficiently. An example of both is the preparation 
of minium. Here there occurs not only a shift of the constitu- 
ents, but some new constituent is also added from the flame. 

95 

We call sublimation in general the transfer of a body in the 
form of a vapor or smoke by strong fire from one place to 



82 



The True Physical Chemistry 

another. By this operation is attained 1) separation of the con- 
stituents, since those which do not withstand the strength of the 
fire fly upwards and those which do not yield to it remain in 
their place; 2) the combination of separate constituents in a 
mixed body; it often happens that a body which otherwise was 
difficult to combine is very closely bound to another when 
transformed into a vapor. The first case belongs to the second 
type, the latter to the first (52). Bodies not converted by chem- 
ical fire into vapor are called fixed, and the others, volatile. 

96 

There are four varieties of sublimation: dry sublimation, 
moist sublimation, or distillation, rectification, and cremation. 

97 

Dry sublimation occurs when the vapor of the subliming 
body condenses into a solid body, hard or brittle. Examples 
are sulfur, cinnabar, and others which collect from the vapor 
in solid form. 

98 

Moist sublimation, or distillation, occurs when the collected 
vapors in liquid form fall in drops into a receiving vessel. A 
common case is the preparation of aqua vitae. 

99 

Rectification is distillation in which the liquid is separated 
from corrupt parts or from an excess of watery moisture or 
other impurity. Examples can also be seen in the preparation 
of spiritous liquors. 

100 

Cremation is sublimation in which a body is burned with a 
bare flame and the smoke is collected in a suitable vessel. 
Examples are very common in every fireplace. 

101 

When the enumerated and here given definitions of chemical 
operations are carried out at one time in related connections, 
the whole series is called a process. 



83 



The True Physical Chemistry 

102 

The precautions in the operations are many, and they dif- 
fer depending on the nature of the different bodies undergo- 
ing treatment, and therefore we will describe each in its place. 

103 

We must further note that we cannot carry out every opera- 
tion with every mixed body, as will be evident when, in the 
next chapter, we speak of differences in the nature of mixed 
bodies. 

104 

Subsidiary operations are used; 1) for breaking up; 2) for 
separation; 3) for combining constituent parts. 

105 

Breaking up is promoted: by lamination, in which the body 
is flattened with a hammer into plates; by crushing, if the body 
is pounded in a mortar; by granulation when the melted body 
is immersed in water or, undergoing another type of action, is 
split into grains; by scraping, when it is scraped with a knife; 
by filing, when it is rubbed with a file; by grinding, if it is 
ground in a mortar. 

106 

Suitable for carrying out separations are sifting, when the 
larger parts are separated from the finer ones on a sieve; filter- 
ing, when with the aid of a porous body a clear liquid is 
separated from a heterogeneous body; sedimentation, when a 
powdery body shaken in water sinks to the bottom faster or 
more slowly in accord with the different weights of the par- 
ticles, and thus the finer particles are separated from the larger 
ones; settling, when after some time interval the material 
which creates a cloud in the liquid falls to the bottom; pouring 
off or so-called decantation, when a clear liquid is poured from 
a precipitate over the edge of the vessel. 

107 

Carrying out mingling makes use of: mixing, when two 
liquids are mixed; shaking, when bodies mixed together are 



84 



The True Physical Chemistry 

shaken; kneading, when soft bodies are combined by rubbing 
together; rubbing, when a mixture of powders is combined by 
prolonged grinding. 

CHAPTER 5. ON GENERATION OF MIXED BODIES 

108 

All bodies are either organic or inorganic. In organic sub- 
stances the bodies are constructed and bound to each other in 
such a way that the cause of one part is included in the other 
with which it is bound. In inorganic bodies the particles, 
aside from their reciprocal cohesion and position do not have 
a binding cause. Among the organic substances we here men- 
tion preferably natural bodies, namely those of the animal 
and vegetable kingdoms whose fibers, ducts, vacuoles, juices in 
their formation and organization depend on each other. In- 
organic bodies which are thus mixed form the whole mineral 
kingdom, the greatest field of chemical materials. 

109 

Also, although the organs of animals and plants are very 
small, yet they consist of still finer particles and these are in- 
organic, that is, are mixed bodies, because in chemical opera- 
tions when their organic structures are destroyed, mixed bodies 
are obtained from them. Thus, all mixed bodies which are 
produced from animal or vegetable bodies, natural or artificial, 
also constitute chemical materials. Hence it is clear how wide 
are the obligations and forces of chemistry in bodies of all the 
kingdoms of however different a nature, so that we consider 
it necessary to enumerate briefly here the most important 
forms. 

110 

The first type of mixed body consists of salts and spirits of 
salts, the second of sulfurous bodies, the third of juices, the 
fourth of metals, the fifth of semimetals, the sixth of earths, 
the seventh of stones. 

111 

By the name salts we designate brittle bodies which are dis- 
solved in water which then remains clear; they do not catch 



85 



The True Physical Chemistry 

fire if they are submitted in pure form to the action of fire. 
Their types are: vitriols and all other metallic salts, alum, 
borax, tartar, essential salts of plants, salt of tartar and potash, 
volatile urinous salt, niter, common salt from springs, sea, rocks, 
sal ammoniac, English salt and other salts obtained as a result 
of chemical work. 

112 

Spirits of salts are liquids which have a sharp taste and 
which cannot be reduced to the solid state unless some other 
sort of body is introduced into their composition; they are 
not sensitive to flame. Such are vinegar, spirit of tartar, acid 
juices, and all spirits produced from the above mentioned 
salts. 

113 

Salts and spirits of salts are divided into acid, alkaline, and 
neutral. Acids show themselves by taste, alkaline by effer- 
vescence with acids; acids color syrup of violets red, alkalies, 
green. Neutral salts are those which are obtained by mixing 
acid and alkaline salts. 

114 

Sulfurous bodies are those which easily catch fire and then 
are wholly or in great part consumed; if anything remains, it 
consists of slag and not ashes. Such are: sulfur, bitumen, resin, 
fat, oil, spirit, phosphorus. 

115 

Sulfur is a solid body, completely inflammable, evolving a 
sharp acid fume; it is either separated from other minerals by 
sublimation, or occurs native, otherwise called living sulfur. 

116 

Bitumen is a solid, sulfurous body, a fossil; ignited it evolves 
smoke with soot, and slag remains after burning. Its forms are 
amber, asphalt, coal, and other bodies of the same nature. 

117 

Resin is a combustible body produced from plants naturally 
or artificially; here belong myrrh, wax, camphor, etc. 



86 



The True Physical Chemistry 
118 

Fats are combustible bodies, isolated from animals, which 
begin to burn only after considerable heating. Here belong 
butter, meat and fish fats. 

119 

Oil is a fatty, combustible body which refuses to mix with 
water. It is either of natural origin or artificial; the natural 
oils emanate from the bowels of the earth, such as petroleum, 
naphtha, etc.; the artificial are obtained by pressing or distilla- 
tion. Pressing is carried out on plants, chiefly from seeds with 
the aid of a machine; such is linseed oil. The distilled oils are 
driven off by strong, moist sublimation and give ethereal or 
empyreumatic oils. Ethereal oils are those which are distilled 
from balsam-like plants at temperatures not above the boiling 
point of water and which retain the odor of the plants them- 
selves; empyreumatic oils are driven off by a much greater fire 
from plant or animal substances, and have a bitter or un- 
pleasant taste, causing nausea. The first type are the ethereal 
oils, cinnamon oil, oil of cloves, etc.; the second are pitch, dis- 
tilled oil of cream of tartar, oil of hartshorn, etc. 

120 

A spirit is a liquid, combustible body which easily takes up 
water into its composition. Its form differs according to the 
nature of the fermented body from which it is produced: spirit 
of wine, grain, etc. 

121 

Phosphorus or pyrophors are bodies which spontaneously in- 
flame in the open air with a strong flame, and emit light in the 
dark, especially if shaken. 

122 

By juices we mean bodies isolated from animals or plants 
which are diluted by water and break up in it, and which, 
when brought into the solid state, can burn. Their forms are: 
honey, gums, extracts, decoctions, gelatin, expressed juices, and 
syrups, for juices are liquids or solidified substances. 



87 



The True Physical Chemistry 

123 

Honey is generally well known and does not have varieties 
except those of different degrees of purity. The types of gum 
are different, corresponding to the different properties of the 
plants from which they are extracted. Extracts are obtained 
from plants by boiling in water and are thickened by evapora- 
tion. Decoctions and gelatin are produced in the same way, 
but from animals. Expressed juices are the juices of plants, 
especially berries; they become syrups when thickened on a 
slow fire, forming a honey-like mass. 

124 

Metals are solid bodies, ductile, lustrous; they are precious 
and nonprecious. 

125 

Precious metals do not lose their metallic form in a strong 
fire without addition of corrosive bodies; nonprecious ones by 
a single ignition fall into ashes and pass over into a glass. The 
first type are gold and silver; the others are copper, iron, lead, 
and tin. 

126 

Semimetals differ from metals by the fact that they are not 
ductile; there are five of them: quicksilver, bismuth, zinc, 
arsenic, and regulus of antimony. 

127 

Earths are solid bodies, crumbling or powdery, which can 
be kneaded with water and give a paste; on dilution with water 
they form a cloudy liquid from which a sediment separates 
out on the bottom of the vessel. 

128 

Stones are firm, solid bodies which do not dissolve in water 
and do not soften into a paste. 

129 

The forms and types of earths and stones are very numerous, 
and we can better become acquainted with them from natural 



88 



The True Physical Chemistry 

history and by direct study than from descriptions; and we 
will study their general and specific signs in discussing chem- 
istry. 



CHAPTER 6. ON THE CHEMICAL LABORATORY 
AND VESSELS 

130 

Besides the problems of the laboratory itself, we must briefly 
describe what is required for carrying out chemical operations, 
namely 1) furnaces, 2) vessels, 3) instruments, 4) materials. 

131 

A laboratory should be: 1) sufficiently spacious, divided into 
several rooms with cupboards so that there can be free space 
to carry out all the operations and keep the chemical vessels in 
a suitable place; 2) safe with respect to fires and therefore con- 
structed of bricks or of stone, and arched; 3) supplied with large 
flues to assure easy outgo of harmful smokes and evaporations. 

132 

The Academy laboratory, built by the generosity of the 
Sovereign in 1748 in the botanical garden under my direction, 
was constructed of brick as shown in the plan. 2 AAAA is the 
laboratory itself, B the chamber for weighing materials, sep- 
arating them, etc.; C another chamber prepared for keeping 
the vessels which are not always in use; DDDD four pillars for 
supporting the fume flues of the laboratory; EEEE the bases 
for the furnaces; F the furnace for heating room B in the 
winter; GGGG places for keeping materials, raw or produced 
by chemistry; HHH, cupboards for vessels which should be at 
hand in the laboratory; K staircase leading to an attic where 
the supply of chemical vessels is kept. 

133 

A laboratory intended most of all for discovering physical 
truth through chemistry requires no greater number of fur- 
naces than are sufficient for the more common operations and 

2. [The plan has not been preserved.] 



89 



The True Physical Chemistry 

does not exceed the size needed in using sufficient materials for 
running experiments: for these labors are undertaken not to 
obtain profit, but for the sake of science. A chemist cannot be 
sufficiently careful if he carries out experiments with amounts 
exceeding those which can be required for developing his 
mind. 

134 

In our laboratory there are nine furnaces, which are enough 
for us, and these are: 1) II, smelting furnace; 2) mm, assay fur- 
nace; 3) nn, second smelting furnace; 4) 00, distilling furnace; 
5) pp, furnace with a strong blower; 6) qq, enamel furnace; 
7) rr, combustion furnace; 8) ss, furnace for glass; 9) tttt, fur- 
nace for digestion or athanor with bath. Besides these furnaces 
there can be a portable furnace if it is needed. 

135 

We took care to construct two smelting furnaces // and nn of 
the same size because of their many daily uses, for all chemical 
operations carried out by fire can be conveniently carried out 
in them if necessity requires. In these furnaces we always 
carried out fusions, calcinations, preparations, temperings, di- 
gestions, amalgamations, cementations, reductions, detonations, 
and cremations. 

136 

The assaying furnace mm was constructed with an internal 
furnace surrounded by charcoal whose opening was seen 
through the outer wall and was closed by a movable iron door. 
The outer wall of the furnace was made of thick iron plates 
and was covered with fire resistant clay. The inner furnace 
for ceramic work was of a fire of resistant fatty earth and was 
supported by iron rods covered with clay. Besides cuppelation, 
for which this type of furnace is especially designed, it can 
very suitably be used for all operations in which heat alone is 
required, without flame (39), and the corresponding effects 
can be found. 

137 

The distilling furnace had two outlets: through one the 
retort was inserted, after which it was closed with bricks so 



90 



The True Physical Chemistry 

that only the neck of the retort jutted out, to which the re- 
ceiver was fastened. The rear opening served for packing in the 
charcoal. This furnace, besides distillation, was suitable for 
carrying out various experiments of vitrification with the help 
of a charcoal fire, where the vessels with the mixture were 
strengthened with clay on an open tripod. 



CHAPTER 9. ON METHODS OF EXPOUNDING 
PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY 3 



It has been briefly explained in the foregoing what chemistry 
itself is (this has been done so that in beginning to study mixed 
bodies we will have in mind the picture of their general 
properties, their important types, media, and methods of treat- 
ment and other matters concerned here and partly shown in 
tables) and now we come to that which must be brought into 
chemistry from physics and which can be joined to it so that 
both sciences, mutually helpful, can aid in obtaining greater 
development, and on each may be cast a fuller light. 



After an acquaintance with mixed bodies by the help of 
chemical operations, the chemist is usually provided with 
knowledge of the constituents of the bodies and seeks no 
other path into the secrets of these bodies, but physics, armed 
with the laws of mathematics, shows a multitude of such 
paths. Particular properties, as we have shown (8), originate 
from mixtures, and chemists are usually absorbed in those 
which create new individual qualities in bodies by changing 
the mixed bodies. Since chemical operations are studied just 
on mixtures, then the mind does not have to pass beyond the 
qualities and their study where a clear understanding of sub- 
stances is required; but it is absurd to investigate the reasons 
of substances when we are insufficiently acquainted with the 
substances themselves. Therefore it is necessary to know clearly 

3. [Chapters 7 and 8 are missing in the manuscript and the paragraphs in 
Chapter 9 are not numbered.] 



91 



The True Physical Chemistry 

the individual qualities of each mixed body which is studied 
chemically, and as far as possible to determine and note them 
clearly, so that when the constituent parts are known by these 
operations, we can find how much and in what form a given 
quality is changed from a change in the known constituent 
part and so that from the mutual interrelations of one and the 
other we can explain the nature of one and the true reason for 
the other. 



Among the particular qualities the first is one which appears 
differently in each body: the specific gravity. Most well-known 
physicists have already given sufficiently exact determinations 
of this; but up to now many bodies still remain which have not 
undergone hydrostatic weighing, but which, however, still 
merit preference over others already weighed. Then too, in 
some weighed bodies there remains doubt as to their purity, 
and some have not been reliably observed. Therefore, every- 
thing which is met in this course, mixed bodies and their con- 
stituents, everything which can be put into a vessel and touched 
with the hand should be weighed hydrostatically, and we 
should carefully note all the circumstances and combinations 
in each operation to which the body will be submitted. 



After the specific gravity comes the cohesion of parts of 
which the mixed body is composed. This, it is true, has been 
studied for some bodies, especially the ductile ones, by hang- 
ing on of weights. But some differences in degree of heat pro- 
duce changes in cohesion of particles, as can be seen perfectly 
clearly by the melting of solid bodies and from following our 
experiments: therefore the previous experiments are not free 
from some deficiencies. Besides, the time has not been noted 
which passes between loading on the successive weights and 
the moment of breaking, and this would be very important to 
note, since if the application of successive weights is greater 
than is required, then the wire immediately breaks, and if it 
is less, then the wire is successively thinned out and then is 
broken. What objects and what instruments we devise for 
more exact determination than up to now of the cohesion be- 



92 



The True Physical Chemistry 

tween particles of a mixed body of any type will be seen in the 
following chapter. 



The different degrees of heat which a body can take up, 
according to its nature . . . 



93 



An Attempt at Physical Chemistry. 

Part First. Empirical 

The "Introduction to the True Physical Chemistry" was In the 
main devoted to the general part of Lonionosov's course in chemis- 
try. Some fragments of his approach to the laboratory work have 
also survived. The selection which follows was written early in 1754 
and was first mentioned in the protocol of the Academy of Sciences 
of April 15, 1754. It shows how Lomonosov planned a study of the 
physicochemical properties of salts. It was first published in Col- 
lected Works, II (1951), pp. 579-593. 



CHAPTER 1. CONTENT OF EXPERIMENTS AND 
OBSERVATIONS ON SOLUTIONS OF SALTS 



Solutions of salts are preferably made in water, although 
other aqueous liquids are not to be completely rejected. Here 
we will consider only water as a universal solvent of salts. We 
will use other aqueous liquids only to a slight degree, since 
their variety is almost endless and their multitudinous variety 
rather distracts the attention than serves to discover truth. 



In using water for solution of salts, physics must consider 
the following: 1) how much of the most important salts can 
water dissolve at different degrees of heat; 2) the specific gravity 
of different solutions; 3) the increase in volume of a brine after 
solution of a salt; 4) the degree of cold obtained on solution of 
a salt; 5) the expansion of a brine from the first degree of cold 
to boiling; 6) at what degree of the thermometer does the boil- 
ing of the solution and of the saline liquid occur; 7) the dura- 
tion of retaining heat by the solution as compared to water; 
8) what salts are dissolved and in what amount in saturated 
solutions; 9) what solutions freeze more rapidly on cooling; 
10) whether water deprived of air dissolves salts faster or more 
slowly; 11) whether water loses the cold acquired from salts 



An Attempt at Physical Chemistry 

with the same rapidity as that acquired from outside; 12) the 
cohesion of particles in solution compared to that in water; 
13) the refraction of rays of the sun in solution compared to 
that in water; 14) the rise in capillary tubes of solutions and 
saline liquids compared with the rise of water; 15) microscopic 
study of solutions; 16) treatment of solutions in the Papin 
machine; 17) whether there is any action of electrical force in 
solutions of salts and saline liquids; 19) solution in a vacuum 
as compared to solution in air. 

3 

The ratio of amount of salt dissolved in water is greatly 
changed with different degrees of heat. This can easily be 
seen from the following table. 

Amount of dissolved salt 
in thousandth parts at 



Name of 
dissolved salt 


Amount of 
water used in 
thousandth parts 


VO.Xi^ULi> U.Vgi^^i> VIJL \JLAX 

thermometer 


25 50 75 100 125 150 



Potash sulfate 

Niter 163 

Common salt 

Wine vinegar salt 

Ammoniacal sulfur salt 

Ammoniacal niter 

Ammoniacal salt 

Ammoniacal vinegar salt 

Alum 62 

Borax 32 

Fixed alkali 

Volatile alkali 



4 

Concerning the crystallization of salt solutions, we must ob- 
serve 1) appearance of the crust under the microscope; 2) how 
it evaporates to formation of a crust; 3) by careful study, the 
shape of the crystals and measurement of the angles; 4) specific 



95 



An Attempt at Physical Chemistry 

gravity; 5) crystallization induced by severe cold; 6) whether 
the crystals from water deprived of air are more solid; 7) 
whether crystallization can promote the electrical force or hin- 
der it; 8) refraction of light in the crystals; 9) crystallization in 
the Papin machine. 

5 
On deliquescence and solution in vapors we should see: 

1) how fast the salt deliquesces; 2) how this effect is weakened 
compared to 4; 3) whether solution occurs with spirit of wine 
vapor; 4) what change is produced by solution of the salts in 
the vapors of hot purest spirit of wine; 5) whether crystals of 
this type give other electrical sparks. 

So 

In liquefaction of salts: 1) what degree of heat is required; 

2) it is necessary to observe under the microscope the splitting 
of rock salt; 3) melting in the Papin machine; 4) to note under 
the microscope the shape of the salt in fractures, solidifying 
after melting; 5) the hardness compared with the crystals. 

Calcined salts: 1) look at the powder under the microscope; 

2) specific gravity of the powder; 3) their deliquescence and 
solution in the vapors with cohobation; 4) increase and de- 
crease in air; 5) increase and decrease in open air; 5) whether 
they glow under the pestle and what color; 6) what part of the 
particles is most easily calcined; 7) what is removed from the 
particles by water, by spirit of wine, by acids and alkalis. 

8 
Vitrification of fine powders and salts: 1) alone; 2) with sand; 

3) what heat; 4) what cohesion; 5) what refraction of the re- 
sulting glass; 6) vitrification by a burning glass; 7) what is the 
specific gravity; 8) electricity and luminescence. 



Precipitation: 1) by fixed alkali; 2) by volatile alkali; 3) at 
rest or in motion; 4) heat or cold; 4) measure of air produced 
or absorbed; 5) different dilutions of precipitated and precipi- 



96 



An Attempt at Physical Chemistry 

tater; 6) difference and the same degree of one and the other 
and their changes; 7) measure of the precipitated powder; 
8) crystals from the complex liquid and their study as above; 
No. 4; 9) study of the calx under the microscope; 10) specific 
gravity; 11) color; 12) taste; 13) vitrification; 14) flash under 
the pestle; 15) whether the electric force hastens precipitation; 
16) electrified precipitate, nonelectrified precipitate; 17) pre- 
cipitation of volatile vapors; 18) mineral growth; 19) mineral 
growth in a glass tube; 20) in a vacuum; 21) calcination of the 
precipitated powder; 22) in a hermetically sealed vessel; 23) 
vitrification of the powder in a closed vessel lacking air and 
equipped for preventing increase in weight; 24) weight of 
metal reduced from the powder; 25) cupellation; 26) reverbera- 
tion of the powder. 

10 

Sublimation: 1) generation or absorption of air; 2) quantity 
separated; 3) specific gravity; 4) value of extension from boil- 
ing water to freezing point; 5) difference in extension from 
freezing to boiling of the same liquid; 6) refraction of the 
liquid; 7) cohesion; 8) comparative duration of heat; 9) rise 
in capillary tube; 10) how the electric force affects sublimation; 
11) in a vacuum; 12) calcined tartar. 



BOOK SECOND. PHYSICOCHEMICAL EXAMINATION 

OF SALTS 

11 

Sulfur and bitumen dissolved in linseed oil, in animal oil, 
in spirit of wine: 1) cohesion of bitumen; 2) cohesion of solu- 
tion and solvent; 3) specific gravity; 4) solution at different 
degrees of heat; 5) increase in volume; 6) change in color; 
7) taste; 8) whether on solution heat or cold are produced; 
9) how great is the expansion from the boiling of water to the 
first freezing; 10) its own boiling and freezing points; 11) re- 
fraction; 12) rise in capillary tube; 13) treatment of the solu- 
tion in a Papin machine; 14) how the electric force acts on the 
solution of salts; 15) color of the electric spark; 16) comparison 
of the solutions in a vacuum and in air; 17) whether the solu- 



97 



An Attempt at Physical Chemistry 

tions are different in solvents deprived of air from those pro 
duced in the presence of air. 

12 

Coagulation of the solutions: 1) amount of moisture re 
moved; 2) cohesion of the coagulate; 3) color; 4) taste. 



98 



Meditations on the Cause of Heat and Cold 

This paper, which contains some of the most fundamental ideas of 
Lomonosov and which he himself cited most often in his later works, 
was apparently written in 1743-44 and was presented at a session of 
the Academy of Sciences on December 7, 1744. Copies were sent by 
Lomonosov to Leonhard Euler and other of his friends in western 
Europe. Along with a group of his other papers, it was finally pub- 
lished in 1750, appearing in the Navi Commentarii Academiae 
sdentiarum imperialis PetropoUtanae, 1:206-229 (1750), under the 
title "Meditationes de caloris et frigoris causa/' It was abstracted 
or reviewed in a number of learned journals of the West at the 
time of its publication. A Russian translation appeared in 1828, and 
B. N. Menshutkin published excerpts from it in German in the 
Ostwald Klassiker, no. 178 (1910). For a long time this was the 
only work of Lomonosov which was fairly well known and avail- 
able to Western scholars. Thus it became accepted as representing 
Lomonosov's entire corpuscular theory; and only recently have more 
balanced judgments been possible. 

The full Latin text with Russian translation is given in the Col- 
lected Works, II (1951), pp. 7-55, and the Russian translation is 
printed in Selected Works, pp. 58-80. 



1 

It is very well known that heat 1 is excited by motion: hands 
are warmed by rubbing together, wood is ignited into flame; 
with a blow to the flint sparks appear from the flintstone; iron 
glows by hammering pieces and by strong blows, and if these 
are stopped, the heat decreases and the fire which was produced 
is gradually extinguished. Moreover, in absorbing heat a body 
is either converted into insensible particles and is scattered 
into the air, or it falls into ashes, or the force of cohesion in 
it is so lessened that it melts. Finally, the generation of bodies, 
life, growth, fermentation, decay are hastened by heat, slowed 
by cold. From all this it is perfectly evident that a sufficient 

L By such a name we mean also the greater intensity of its force, usually 
called fire. 



99 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

basis for heat is found in motion. And, since motion cannot oc- 
cur without material, therefore it is necessary that a sufficient 
basis for heat is found in motion of some material. 



Although for the most part no motion in hot bodies is ap- 
parent to the sight, yet this very often manifests itself through 
action. Thus, iron, heated almost to glowing seems quiet to 
the eye, yet one body moved near it melts, another is converted 
into a vapor, that is, its particles are set in motion and this 
shows that in them motion of some sort of material is present. 
Then we cannot deny the existence of motion where we do 
not see it; who, in fact, will deny that when a strong wind 
passes through a forest the leaves and branches sway, although 
when viewed from afar no motion is visible. In the same way 
as here, due to distance, so also in hot bodies due to the small- 
ness of the particles of moving material, the motion escapes the 
sight; in both cases the angle of view is so acute that neither 
the particles themselves falling under this angle nor their mo- 
tion can be seen. However, we consider that no one, unless he 
is a believer in occult qualities, will ascribe to heat, the source 
of so much change, a lack of motion, and hence of a mover. 

o 
3 

Since a body can be moved by two motions, total, by which 
the whole body continuously changes its position while the 
parts remain quiet with respect to each other, and internal, 
which is a shift in the position of the insensible particles of 
the material, and since with the most rapid total motion often 
no heat is found, and in the absence of such motion great heat 
may be found, then it is evident that heat consists of internal 
motion of the material. 

4 

In bodies material is of two kinds: cohering^ namely moving 
and producing pressure with the whole body, and flowing, like 
a river, through the pores of the first body. It may be asked 
which of these, brought into motion, produces heat? In order 
to answer this question it is necessary to consider the main ef- 
fects observed in hot bodies. It is clear from considering these 



100 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

that 1) in bodies the heat is greater the more dense is the co- 
hering of their material and vice versa. Thus, looser tow burns 
with greater flames but gives much less heat than that which 
burns after denser packing. Straw which under ordinary con- 
ditions burns with a light flame is used by the inhabitants of 
the fertile parts of Russia which lack wood in place of fire- 
wood, after they have first fastened it into a thick, compact 
bundle; when more porous wood is burned, it gives less heat 
than denser wood, and coal which contains rocky material in 
its pores produces a stronger heat than wood charcoal which, 
like a sponge, has empty spaces. Moreover, air of the lower 
atmosphere, which is denser than air of the higher atmosphere, 
heats bodies around which it flows more than the latter, as is 
indicated by very warm valleys surrounded by mountains cov- 
ered with perpetual ice; 2) denser bodies also contain more 
cohering material in the same volume than does flowing ma- 
terial. Since it is well known from the laws of mechanics that 
the amount of motion is the more considerable, the greater 
the amount of material found in motion, and vice versa, then 
if a sufficient basis for heat consisted in the internal motion 
of the flowing material, the more rarefied body in whose pores 
was a greater supply of flowing material should have a greater 
capacity for heat than denser bodies. However, since on the 
contrary the amount of heat rather corresponds to the amount 
of cohering material of the body, therefore it is evident that 
a sufficient cause for heat consists in the internal motion of the 
cohering material of the body. 

5 

This truth is confirmed by the action of celestial fire directed 
on a body by a burning glass: on its removal from the focus 
this fire remains in it longer the denser it is, so that in the most 
rarefied of bodies, air, it does not last for the shortest percep- 
tible time. Hence we add that heat is different according to 
the differing heaviness and hardness of the body, and experi- 
ment shows that its intensity is proportional to the weight of 
the body, corresponding to the degree of cohesion of its par- 
ticles, evidently an indication that the cohering material of the 
body is the material of its heat. Although the cohering material 
is of two kinds: the natural material of which the body con- 



101 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

sists and the foreign material lodged in the empty spaces where 
there is no natural material, yet since both move together with 
the body itself and are combined in one common mass, it can- 
not be that when the natural material is aroused to calorific 
motion there is not the same motion of the foreign material, 
and vice versa, as on heating a sponge the colder water in the 
pores receives heat and, reversibly, warmer water heats the 
colder sponge. 

6 

We consider that the internal motion certainly occurs in 
three ways: 1) if insensible particles continuously change places, 
or 2) if they rotate while remaining in place, or 3) if they 
continuously move backward and forward in an insensible 
space and in an insensible period of time. The first we consider 
as progressive, the second as rotary, and the third as oscillatory 
internal motion. Now we must consider which of these motions 
produces heat. In order to explain this, we take as a basis the 
following positions. 1 ) Internal motion is not the cause of heat 
if it cannot be shown to be in a hot body. 2) Nor is internal 
motion the cause of heat when it occurs in a body less hot than 
another body which lacks this motion. 

7 

The particles of a liquid body are bound to each other so 
weakly that they spread out if they are not held by any solid 
body and they need hardly any external force to counteract 
their cohesion, but they can spontaneously separate, withdraw 
from each other, and move progressively. Therefore we can- 
not impress permanent marks on a liquid, for these would all 
immediately vanish. Whether or not internal progressive mo- 
tion is present in each liquid body, even one colder than the 
level of vital heat, we will not investigate here; we do not 
doubt that for our purpose it will be sufficient to show that 
there are many cases in which it is shown quite clearly. For 
this we begin first of all with solutions of salt in water. It is 
invariably found that water felt to be perfectly quiet gives a 
sensation of cold to the hand when it dissolves sea salt, niter, 
or sal ammoniac placed on the bottom of the vessel, and dis- 
tributes them to all its parts. Since this can occur only if the 



102 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

particles o water remove the molecules of salt which are torn 
off from the piece of salt, then it is quite evident that the water 
particles themselves move progressively when they dissolve any 
kind of salt. In the same way no one can deny this; it happens 
also in quicksilver when it attacks metals and distributes their 
particles; in spirit of wine, too, when it removes colored sub 
stances from plants. 

8 

On the other hand, particles of a solid body, especially the 
more solid inorganic ones, are compounds of such close cohe- 
sion that they firmly resist outside forces which tend to sep- 
arate them; because of this it is impossible to separate them 
from each other spontaneously by breaking the cohering bonds 
and to show progressive internal motion. Therefore even the 
slightest marks on them are retained for centuries and are de- 
stroyed only by constant use or by the action of air or by 
change of the body itself into the liquid state. In this respect 
a good example is gold which, deposited on the surface of a 
silver object, remains on it for a long time and wears off only 
by frequent use. On the other hand it immediately leaves the 
surface and is distributed through the whole mass of silver 
when the gilded silver object is melted on the fire. All this 
clearly shows that the particles of the solid body, especially the 
harder and inorganic ones, do not have progressive motion. 

9 

Having established this, we consider first any silver vessel or 
other object of this metal covered with gold and carved with 
the finest engraving marks and heated to such a degree of heat 
as that of boiling water. We see that the gold on the surface 
remains unaffected and the marks are not in the least changed; 
the hardness of the vessel remains as before, and this entirely 
excludes the possibility of separation of insensible particles. 
This then most clearly shows that the body can be strongly 
heated without internal progressive motion. Second, we com- 
pare any hard stone, for example a diamond, heated to the 
temperature of melted lead (which the artisans often do, col- 
lecting it for polishing, without any harm or change in the 
precious stone) with water, cooled sufficiently by dissolving a 



103 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

salt in it, by which it is still more cooled, or with mercury 
when it attacks silver; the first we find very hot without in- 
ternal progressive motion, but the water and mercury which 
have such motion have a very slight degree of heat. This ob- 
viously indicates that often bodies which have internal pro- 
gressive motion are much less hot than those which do not 
have such motion. Hence by virtue of the idea given above 
(6) it follows that internal progressive motion of cohering 
material is not the cause of heat. 

10 

From the definition of the internal oscillatory motion (6), 
we see clearly that with such motion the particles of the body 
cannot cohere to each other. Although there is a very small 
space in which they vibrate yet here the particles will lack 
mutual contact and in great part this will not appear exter- 
nally. For perceptible cohesion the particles of the body re- 
quire continuous reciprocal contact; therefore the particles of 
the body cannot show any perceptible cohesion if they are 
agitated by internal oscillatory motion. But since most bodies 
on heating to redness keep a very strong cohesion of the par- 
ticles, it is evident that heat of a body does not occur from 
internal oscillatory motion of the cohering material (6). 

11 

Thus, after this, as we have rejected progressive and oscil- 
latory internal motions, it necessarily follows that heat consists 
in internal rotary motion (6) of the cohering material (4); 
for it is necessary to ascribe it to some one of the three mo- 
tions. 

12 

Here, however, we can ask the question, whether the parti- 
cles of a solid body, occurring in continuous and perfect cohe- 
sion, can rotate around each other. In order to answer this, it 
is enough to remember that two pieces of marble with polished 
surfaces placed in contact move easily with respect to each 
other; also glass lenses on grinding adhere so firmly to the 
rapidly rotating form that they cannot be shifted in a line per- 
pendicular to the plane of contact without their breaking. Con- 



104 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

sidering this, we can plainly imagine that the finest particles 
of the body can rotate one around the other in spite of the 
cohesion, the more easily, the less the observed ratio of their 
plane of contact to the whole surface. As to liquids, it is quite 
evident that their particles, which in most cases move by inter- 
nal progressive motion due to the absence of resistance pro- 
duced by cohesion, can also have a rotary motion while 
preserving the first type of motion. 

13 

From this theory of ours we also draw the following corol- 
laries. 1) The most suitable form of corpuscular material for 
calorific motion is the spherical, since such particles can mu- 
tually touch at only one point and have almost no force of 
friction with each other. 2) Since each motion when large can 
increase or decrease, this must also be assumed for calorific 
motion. But the greater this motion, the more considerable 
should be its action; hence, on increasing the calorific motion, 
that is, on more rapid rotation of the particles of cohering ma- 
terial, the heat should be increased, and with slower rotation, 
decreased. 3) Particles of a hot body rotate faster, of a cold 
body, more slowly. 4) A hot body should cool on contact with 
a cold one, since it slows the calorific motion of the particles; 
on the contrary, a cold body should warm up due to hastening 
the motion on contact. 5) Thus, when the hand feels heat in 
any body the particles of the cohering material arouse a more 
rapid rotation in the hand, and when cold is felt, its rotary 
motion is slowed. 

14 

There is no surer way to truth than the method of mathe- 
matics, which confirms the a priori ideas by examples and the 
a posteriori ideas by tests. Therefore, in order to develop our 
theory further, we explain by mathematical examples the most 
important effects found for fire and heat, and thus confirm the 
full reality of the ideas given in 11. 

15 

Phenomenon 1. On mutual friction of solid bodies, one of 
them moves on the other and scrapes it; hence it follows that 



105 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

particles lying on the frictional surface strike each other. Thus 
[Fig. 1], let body AB move on body CD from B to A; the par- 
ticle ab partly strikes its surface b on the part c o the surface 
of particle cd, so that particle ab excites particle cd to motion, 
and on the other hand, particle cd by its resisting force excites 
particle ab to reverse motion. Since these enter the composition 
of a solid body, they cannot leave their places and move pro- 
gressively; therefore the motion of body AB does not stop, and 
so particle cd will move around its center in the direction in 
which it is pushed by particle ab, and particle ab around its 



o 



o 



b 



Fig. 1 

center in the direction in which it is held back by particle cd', 
that is, both will move in rotatory ways. In this way the indi- 
vidual particles which lie in the plane of friction, being put 
into rotation, excite the other particles which make up bodies 
AB and CD to rotation propagated by friction. Thus it is clear 
how solid bodies are heated by mutual friction; further con- 
clusions also follow from this. 1) Phenomenon 2. The more 
strongly the surfaces of bodies AB and CD are compressed by 
friction, and the faster they move around each other, the more 
strongly are particles ab and cd excited to rotary motion and 



106 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

the faster the body itself is heated. 2) Phenomenon 3. Since 
the particles of a liquid body adhere very weakly to each other 
and very easily leave their places, then when the particles ab 
and cd occur on the surface of liquid bodies, they yield place 
to each other and cannot show that rotary motion which occurs 
in particles in the composition of solid bodies. Due to all this, 
liquid bodies not only are not markedly heated by friction be- 
tween masses of shaken liquids, but also they do not heat solid 
bodies when their surfaces are wet by liquids. 

16 

Phenomenon 4. If we scrape a nail with a longer iron rod, 
the separate particles on the rod surface strike the particles of 
the nail which meet them. But since the rubbing surface of 
the rod is larger than the surface of the nail, then on the nail 
surface a greater force of particles strikes than on the rod sur- 
face; due to this, the particles of the nail, excited by more 
blows should come to rotary motion faster than the particles 
which make up the rod. Therefore it is not surprising that the 
nail is heated before the rod. 

17 

Phenomenon 5. When cold iron is hammered with a ham- 
mer, especially if it is struck at an oblique angle, then part of 
the iron mass yields to the blow of the hammer and pushes on 
the neighboring part which does not feel the blow, and strikes 
it just like a body closely attached to another surface, and 
moves it with a strong friction; under the influence of more 
frequent blows the friction between the excited parts of the 
iron mass is increased and the rotary motion of the particles 
is increased so that the iron is sometimes heated to redness. 
Phenomenon 6. It is just the same in any metallic rod, espe- 
cially if it is not elastic, when it is repeatedly bent: in fact, 
parts of the mass on the convex side are pulled apart in oppo- 
site directions and, passing by each other, with a rubbing mo- 
tion they create friction to give a rotary motion and the bent 
rod is heated. 

18 

Phenomenon 7. If a hotter body A is in contact with an- 
other body B which is less hot, then the particles of body A at 



107 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

the point o contact rotate faster than the neighboring parti- 
cles of body B (13), the faster rotation hastens the rotating 
motion of the particles of body B, that is, gives them part of 
its motion; as much motion leaves the first as is added to the 
second, that is, when the particles of body A hasten the rotat- 
ing motion of the particles of body B, their own is slowed. Due 
to this, when body A heats body B by contact, it itself is cooled. 

19 

Phenomenon 8. Further, the particles of body B lying on 
the contact surface when set into motion touch other particles 
of the same body further from the contact surface; these hasten 
their motion by mutual friction with the first, and other neigh- 
boring ones rotate, and so their internal rotary motion is suc- 
cessively distributed from the plane of contact to the opposite 
surface- On the other hand, particles of body A on the plane 
of contact are slowed in their motion (18), and the slowing is 
transferred from them to their neighbors, then successively to 
newer and newer particles up to the surface opposite the con- 
tact. Hence it is explained why on contact the surface of a less 
hot body applied to a hotter one is heated before the opposite 
one is, and the surface of a hotter body applied to a colder one 
is cooled before the opposite one. 

20 

Phenomenon 9. If the opposite surfaces of the less hot body 
A approach two hotter bodies B and C, then from each con- 
tact surface there will be propagated toward the other an in- 
ternal rotary motion, and therefore it will envelop all of body 
A faster than if this motion, beginning on one side, should be 
distributed to the other side, that is, if it were supplied either 
by body B or body C. In the same way, if body A were warmer 
than bodies B and C on both sides of it, the rotary motion of 
its particles should be retarded faster than if body A were in 
contact with the less hot body B or C alone on one side only. 
Hence It follows that the rotary motion of the particles is in- 
creased or slowed faster, the greater the surface in contact with 
the hotter or colder body. Therefore, since the surfaces of such 
bodies are in double and the volumes in triple ratio to the 



108 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

diameter, then it is also explained why hot bodies o the same 
nature and the same shape but larger volume in the same sur- 
rounding medium, for example air, are cooled more slowly 
and cold bodies are heated more slowly than if they were of 
the same volume. 

21 

Phenomenon 10. Moving and resting bodies show resistance 
in proportion to inertia which, as is known, is proportional to 
the weight; therefore heavier particles are excited by the same 
force to calorific motion with more difficulty, or if in motion, 
slow with more difficulty than lighter objects. Hence also it is 
evident why cold bodies, specifically heavier, in the same re- 
sisting medium are heated more slowly and hot bodies in the 
same cooling medium are cooled more slowly than specifically 
lighter ones. 

22 

Phenomenon 11. It is certain that particles of harder bodies 
cohere specifically more firmly than particles of softer bodies. 
Hence the further conclusion is relevant that these are held to 
each other by greater contact surfaces. Correspondingly, as can 
be assumed from further consideration, the contact surfaces of 
the particles themselves should be larger, that is, the particles 
of harder bodies should have a greater mass than the particles 
of softer bodies. It happens that particles of harder bodies are 
in great part rough to the touch and thus give the senses a 
feeling of their greater size. Since, therefore, with other condi- 
tions equal a body of greater volume can be excited to motion 
with more difficulty from rest, and be slowed with more diffi- 
culty in stopping motion than a body of lesser volume, then 
the larger particles of harder bodies do not receive and give 
off caloric motion as easily as the finer particles of softer bodies. 
Thus the reason is clear why harder bodies receive and give 
up heat more slowly than do softer bodies. 

23 

Phenomenon 12. Since particles of a heated body rotate, we 
must accept the reasoning that by the movement of their sur- 
faces they act on each other so that each repels the other the 



109 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

more strongly the more energetic is the rotary motion. Since 
this repulsion opposes the cohesion of the particles, one lessens 
the other, and on increase of the rotary motion there should 
be a decrease in cohesion of the particles. Therefore it is not 
at all surprising that the hardness of hard bodies is decreased 
by the force of heat and even is finally so weakened that it 
totally destroys the cohesion of the particles, and we find that 
first the body is converted into a liquid and then the body is 
dispersed in the form of a vapor. 

24 

Hence it follows 1) that the reason for liquidity and fluidity 
is the rotary motion of the particles, and the repulsive force 
thus produced is sufficient to destroy the cohesion of the par- 
ticles to such an extent that the particles either circle freely 
around each other and spread out, or by complete destruction 
of the bonds are dispersed in air. 2) The reason for volatiliza- 
tion and evaporation is chiefly this, that due to different com- 
position of the air, and also to the fact that the calorific, or 
what is the same thing, centrifugal force acts with differing 
strength on them, the particles of the body are torn off and 
scattered. 3) Fluid and liquid bodies always contain heat, 
though not much, when they seem to be cold. 

25 

Phenomenon 13. Body A acting on body B cannot give to 
the latter a greater rate of motion than it has itself. Therefore 
if body B is cold and is immersed in a hot fluid body A, then 
the heat of motion of the particles of body A excites the par- 
ticles of body B to heat of motion; but in the particles of body 
B there cannot be excited a more rapid motion than exists in 
the particles of body A and therefore the cold body B im- 
mersed in body A evidently cannot show a greater degree of 
heat than A possesses. Phenomenon 14. Hence it is clear why 
the bottom of a tin vessel filled with water resists heating by 
a very strong flame which otherwise would easily melt this 
metal. Actually, although the flame sets the tin particles in very 
rapid motion, yet the water above it cannot acquire that rate 
of heat motion which is needed to negate the cohesion of the 



110 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

tiny particles; therefore the water slows their rotary motion 
and does not permit the metal to melt. 

26 

Here is also the place to mention the reason for the expan- 
sion of bodies which is usually increased or decreased depend- 
ing on their heat. Since expansion does not occur directly from 
the heat, but from the elasticity of the air included in the pores 
of the body, we will leave this effect to be considered at another 
time. Moreover, we cannot designate such a great rate of mo- 
tion that there cannot conceivably be a still greater one. This 
relates properly to calorific motion; therefore it is impossible 
for a highest and final degree of heat to be due to motion. On 
the contrary, it Is true this same motion can be so decreased 
that a body finally reaches a state of rest, and no further de- 
crease in motion is possible. Hence, from necessity there must 
exist a greatest and final degree of cold which should consist 
in absolute rest from rotary motion of the particles. 

27 

Although a greatest degree of cold is possible, yet there is 
no evidence which indicates that such a state occurs on the 
terrestrial sphere. Actually, everything which seems cold to us 
is only less hot than our organs which feel it. Thus, the coldest 
water is still hot, since ice, into which water freezes with a very 
strong frost is colder than it, that Is, less hot. If melting wax 
is actually hot, then why is water which seems to us very cold, 
in actual fact not hot, for it is nothing else than melted ice. 
However, we should not conclude that freezing of a body is a 
sign of the greatest cold, for metals which solidify immediately 
after melting are of the nature of ice, but they are so hot that 
they ignite a hot body which approaches them. However, there 
are liquid bodies which do not freeze at any known degree of 
cold. Since their liquid state depends on calorific motion (24), 
it is clear that these liquid bodies always have some degree of 
heat. Further, bodies usually have a degree of heat inherent in 
the medium In which they have been immersed for a consider- 
able time. And since air, found always and everywhere, is a 
fluid, that is, as demonstrated, warm, then all bodies sur- 
rounded by the earth's atmosphere, even though seeming cold 



111 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

to the senses, are warm; and therefore the highest degree of 

cold does not exist on our terrestrial sphere. 

28 

Thus we have shown a priori and confirmed a posteriori that 
the cause of heat is internal rotary motion of cohering mate- 
rials; now we pass to a consideration of ideas which the ma- 
jority of contemporary scholars have expressed concerning heat. 
In our times the cause of heat is ascribed to a peculiar material 
which most call caloric, others ether, and some, elementary fire. 
They say that a greater amount of it occurs in a body in which 
a greater degree of heat is observed, so that at various degrees 
of heat of a given body the amount of calorific material in it 
is increased or decreased. Although it is sometimes assumed 
that the heat of a body is increased by strong motion of this 
material entering it, yet most often they consider the true cause 
of increase or decrease of heat to be a simple entry or departure 
of different amounts of it. This idea has taken such a deep root 
in the minds of many and is so strong, that everywhere we read 
in physical papers of the entry into the pores of a body of the 
above mentioned calorific material as if some sort of love po- 
tion were attracting, or, on the other hand, a violent departure 
from the pores as if it were seized with fright; therefore we con- 
sider it our duty to submit this hypothesis to a test. Most of 
all we must answer the actual originators from whom this idea 
came. There are four of them who are most important, to 
whom we should look for an explanation of other effects of 
nature, 

29 

When scholars began to study more attentively the effects 
connected with the heating of bodies, they easily noted that 
on increase of heat the volume of each body also increased. 
Since they knew exactly that nothing except heat had been 
added to the body, and their minds still held strongly to the 
ancient idea of elementary fire, they did not hesitate to con- 
clude that on calcination some sort of material, native fire, 
entered the pores of the body and expanded it; and when it 
left it, this body cooled and contracted. We would agree with 
them willingly if they could as easily show just how the heat 



112 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

material is driven into suddenly heated bodies. How, I ask, 
in the coldest winter when everything is enveloped by severe 
frost, or in the coldest depths of the sea 2 where, according to 
this hypothesis there is almost no heat material, gunpowder, 
ignited by the smallest external generating spark, suddenly ex- 
pands with a great flame? Whence and by what remarkable 
virtue are fire and this material instantaneously brought to- 
gether? But let it fly however impetuously in coming from a 
most distant place, what would be the reason for the ignition 
and expansion of the gunpowder? In this case it would be nec- 
essary either that another body surrounding the gunpowder 
was previously heated by arriving fire and was expanded, or 
that this volatile fire, nothing else than the gunpowder itself, 
could not ignite and expand, which would be for it to forget 
its own nature; the first is evidently contradicted by experi- 
ment, the second by common sense. 

30 

In general the nature of a thing is such that on increase of 
its source there increases also its action, and on the contrary, 
when this decreases, its action is lessened. Therefore, when the 
same degree of heat is observed in two bodies with other con- 
ditions equal, there should be the same increase or decrease in 
the amplitude of each body. But what differences are found in 
this respect! I say nothing about air which from the degree of 
freezing of water to the degree of its boiling expands by a third 
part while water in this time increases by one twenty-sixth part 
of its volume. Even bodies of almost the same liquidity, such 
as mercury, water, spirit of wine, different oils, and also some 
solid bodies like metals, glass, etc., show an evident variation 
in increase or extension from the same degree of heat. How- 
ever, let no one assume that more marked cohesion of the parts 
acts as a hindrance for expansion: for steel has a stronger co- 
hesion of the particles, as everyone knows, but experiment 
shows that steel expands more, iron less. So also for bronze, a 
body harder than copper which expands more than the latter 
from the same degree of heat. We cannot ascribe any slowing 
in incandescence to the great weight of a body, not to mention 

2. Boerhaave, Elem* Chym. f part 2, from Sinclair, Arte gravitatis, p. 301. 



113 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

any other fact which in different bodies would hinder their 
expansion, without showing contradictory cases which run 
counter to the assumption made when the expansion of heated 
bodies is ascribed to entering material. But this is the case for 
different bodies. Sometimes one and the same body is com- 
pressed when heat increases; for example, water coming from 
ice is specifically heavier than it, since even with a considerable 
degree of heating it does not permit the ice to sink to the bot- 
tom. Thus also iron and most other bodies, still in the solid 
state, float in those same bodies in the fused state, since they 
occupy a greater volume though they still do not have the same 
degree of heat at which they usually melt. From all this it is 
quite clear that expansion by accumulation of heat and con- 
traction on cooling cannot at all show these apparent shiftings 
of the material of heat. 

31 

However, this theory, already weakened by its own magni- 
tude, can be established in another way by a fact which has 
greater weight. Thus scholars, and especially chemists, think 
that this circulating fire can show its presence in bodies not 
only by an increase in their volume, but also by an increase in 
weight. If I am not mistaken, the most illustrious Robert Boyle 
showed for the first time in an experiment that bodies increase 
in weight on calcination 3 and that one could make part of fire 
and flame stable and ponderable. If this could actually be 
shown for some elementary fire, then refutation of our opinion 
would be strongly supported. However, the greater part, almost 
all, of his experiments on increased weight by the action of fire 
led to this, that the weight was possessed either by part of the 
flame calcining the body, or part of the air which during the 
calcination passed over the calcining body. Thus, metallic 
plates burned in the flame of burning sulfur actually expanded 
and increased in weight; but here the reason for the increased 
weight is nothing else than the acid of sulfur which can be 
freed from phlogiston, collected and accumulated under a bell; 
then it penetrates into the pores of copper and silver and, com- 
bining with them, produces an increase in weight. Thus when 

3. In the Treatise on the Weight of Fire and Flame. 



114 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

lead is burned to minium, the workman deliberately directs 
onto the liquefied metal the very smoky flame; it is just this 
which colors the lead slag red and increases its weight, to the 
profit of the workman. The remaining experiments of the fa- 
mous author in a supplement to the paper mentioned seem, 
it is true, more positive, but they are not at all free from doubt, 
since the author himself was not present at them and carrying 
them out was entrusted to some assistant. But let us assume 
that besides the particles of the calcined body or the particles 
flying around in the air, which continuously flows around the 
calcining body, some other kind of material is added to the 
metal which increases the weight of the calx. Since the calx, 
removed from the fire, keeps its acquired weight even in the 
most severe frost and, moreover, does not show any excess heat 
in itself, then it follows that in the process of calcination some 
material is added to the body, but not that which is ascribed 
to the fire itself, for I do not see how the latter in the calx 
could forget its own nature. Further, the metallic calx reduced 
to the form of the metal loses its acquired weight. Since the 
reduction is produced in the same way as the calcination, by 
an even stronger fire, we cannot find any basis why the same 
fire introduced into the body by it, then leaves, also by it. 
Finally, all the similar experiments made by the famous Boer- 
haave 4 and Duclos 5 evidently had contradictory results. The 
first investigator weighed, before calcination, and then again 
after calcination and cooling, five pounds and eight ounces of 
iron, but did not find any change or decrease in weight. The 
second worker ascribed increased weight of minerals on cal- 
cination to sulfur particles carried in air (as we said above) 
which continually flowed over the mineral undergoing calcina- 
tion, and the introduction of the latter when these particles 
broke up in the fire; he showed this in his experiments: he 
found that from regulus of antimony burned in open air there 
was extracted by spirit of wine a red extract, by the removal 
of which the remaining mass had the same weight as the reg- 
ulus before burning. 2) Regulus of antimony burned in an- 
other way, namely, without increase in weight, does not give 

4. Elementa Chymiae, part 2, De Igne, experiment 20. 

5. Mem. de I'Acad. Roy. des Sciences, Anne*e 1667. 



115 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

such an extract. Thus, the argument is also not conclusive 
when given in defense of the individuality of fire material 
based on increased weight of a calcined body. 

32 

The rays of the sun, caught and collected by a burning glass, 
give a very strong heat and a bright light; it is thought that 
this shows visually and with the sun itself as a witness that heat 
material or elementary fire coming from the sun is condensed 
at the focus and this strengthens the brilliance and heat. It is 
easy to see here that it is assumed that the material of light is 
emitted from the sun like a river from its source. This hypoth- 
esis is very much as if we should state that air from a sounding 
body is emitted on all sides at a rate equal to the speed of 
sound. Evidently ether and light, which differ from each other 
in the same way as motion and matter differ from each other, 
are here confused, and it is clear that we should discard the 
condensation of material delivered to the focus of the glass 
and replace it by concentration of heat motion. For me, the 
assertion that in the focus of the burning glass or mirror there 
is concentrated the matter of ether does not seem otherwise 
than if we should say that in the focus of an elliptical arch 
sound waves are not collected, but the material of air itself is 
concentrated. That the sun's focus is very hot is not due to the 
great density of ether matter, but is due to its heat motion; 
this is sufficiently shown by the focus of the sun's rays reflected 
from the moon. Since they are very bright, they should also be 
very hot if the heat came from a concentration of ethereal mat- 
ter. But there is no heat in them; therefore the luminous focus 
is produced either by accumulation of ether matter or by con- 
centrating its motion. To exclude concentration of material 
means to go against the hypothesis; to avoid concentration of 
motion means to recognize that fire matter can also exist in the 
cold, that is, that fire is not fire. Whoever considers this with- 
out prejudice then will agree with me that the existence of heat 
material can in no way be shown from the occurrence of heat 
in the focus of a burning apparatus. 

33 

By mixing common salt with snow or crushed ice, physicists 
obtain a substance called from its origin a freezer, since water 



116 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

placed in it in some sort of a vessel is converted to ice. While 
this is taking place, the snow with the salt melts. Hence it is 
usually concluded that fire matter from the water moves into 
the surrounding snow and from combination with it the latter 
melts, and the water, because of the departure of fire matter, 
is converted to ice. Beautiful! But something remains to be 
tested before our trophies of victory are snatched away. Intro- 
duce, if you please, a thermometer and a bottle of water into 
the snow, add salt to the snow, and you will see that while the 
water is converted into ice and the cooling mixture melts, the 
alcohol in the thermometer still sinks; a clear sign that along 
with the freezing of the water the cooling mixture becomes 
colder; thus no elementary fire is forced into it from the water, 
but rather the snow, melted by contact with the warmer water, 
acts on the salt, dissolves it, is cooled, and acquires a less de- 
gree of heat than the water has as it passes into ice. From this 
the pure water in the vessel freezes and the snow itself, due to 
the absorption of the salt, remains liquid. Who, in fact, does 
not know that pure water put in a glass vessel in water sat- 
urated with salt is converted into ice at 26 on the Fahrenheit 
thermometer, while the brine itself remains liquid? 

34 

On the basis of all the above ideas we state that we cannot 
ascribe the heat of a body to condensation of any sort of subtle 
material especially assumed for the purpose, but that heat con- 
sists in internal rotary motion of cohering material of the 
heated body; and we not only say that such motion and the 
heat of the most specific and finest matter of ether, which fills 
all space, do not contain sensible bodies, but also assert that 
the matter of ether can communicate the motion of heat ob- 
tained from the sun to our earth and the other bodies of the 
world and to heat them; it is the medium by which bodies 
separated from each other communicate heat without any di- 
rect sensible ones. 

35 

Rejecting the material which other authors have assumed as 
the exclusive cause for explaining heat, we could conclude if, 



117 



Meditations on Heat and Cold 

on the other hand, a new problem did not arise. This is that 
the cause of cold is also a peculiar substance, seeing that there 
can be a positive basis for this in salts, due to the production 
of cold in their solutions. But since the same salts sometimes 
also produce heat, and thus ordinary salt effervesces and grows 
hot when oil of vitriol is added, we could with the same rea- 
son ascribe a principle of heat to the salt if we did not con- 
sider such an unintelligent controversy beneath our contempt. 



118 



Dissertation on the Action of Chemical 
Solvents In General 

During the years immediately after his return from Germany to 
St. Petersburg, Lomonosov developed most of his chemical Ideas 
and embodied them in a series of papers which he presented to 
the Academy of Sciences. These were finally collected and pub- 
lished in 1750. The following paper was written in 1743 and re- 
vised several times before reaching its final form in 1745. It is the 
first paper to include a description of actual experiments carried 
out by Lomonosov before the construction of his laboratory In 
1748. 

The paper was read and approved by Euler in 1747, and was 
published in the Novi Commentarii Academiae sdentiarium im- 
perialis Petropolitanae, 1: 245-266 (1750) in Latin with the title 
"Dissertatio de actione menstruorum chymicorum in genere." The 
Latin text and Russian translation were published In Collected 
Works, I (1950), pp. 337-383, and the Russian translation appeared 
in Selected Works, pp. 19-42. 



Although even in ancient times persons skilled in chemistry 
devoted much work and effort to the science, and especially In 
the last hundred years its supporters strove with each other, 
as we might say, to study the composition of natural mixed 
bodies, yet one important part of natural science was still hid- 
den in deep darkness and was smothered by its own mass. The 
true reasons for the astonishing effects which nature produces 
by its chemical actions were hidden from us, and therefore, 
up to now, we have not known of a more direct path leading 
to many discoveries which would increase the happiness of the 
human race. For we must recognize that although there are a 
great multitude of chemical experiments whose accuracy we 
do not doubt, yet we can rightly complain that we can draw 
from them only a small number o conclusions such as would 
please a mind satisfied only by geometrical demonstrations. 



119 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

2 

Among the most important chemical operations is solution 
of bodies, which most of all deserves physical investigation: in 
fact, it is very often used in chemical laboratories in the study 
of bodies, and in lectures in physics it is usually shown to the 
curious along with other experiments; however, the causes of 
it are still not clear enough for an explanation of the effects 
which occur in this operation. 



Usually those who speak of the causes of solution assert that 
every solvent enters into the pores of the dissolving body (it 
will be shown below that this does not always occur) and grad- 
ually breaks the particles. But as to the question of what force 
carries out this disruptive action, no sort of probable explana- 
tion is given except the arbitrary ascription to the solvent of 
wedges, hooks, and I do not know what other instruments. 

4 

The same solvent cannot act on every kind of body, but for 
the solution of each body there will be a corresponding sol- 
vent. The usual explanation for this is to assume differences in 
the size and shape of the pores of the dissolving body and the 
particles of the solvent, so that, as it is assumed, the pores are 
blocked up or access is made easy for the solvent which enters 
them. Thus, for example, while spirit of niter dissolves silver, 
copper, iron, and other less precious metals, it does not act on 
gold, and this is usually explained by the statement that the 
pores of gold, as the densest of all bodies, are the narrowest 
and therefore the particles of the spirit of niter cannot enter 
them. We are prepared to recognize that larger particles of 
solvent cannot penetrate into finer pores of the dissolving sub- 
stance, but as we will see later, particles of spirit of niter are 
much finer than pores of gold. Spirit of niter and spirit of salt 
taken separately do not dissolve gold but, mixed into aqua 
regia, they become a special solvent for gold. Hence they enter 
its pores (that this actually occurs will be shown in 20), 
whence it follows that particles of spirits of niter and salt com- 
bined in mixed corpuscles are smaller than the pores of gold 
and hence have much less diameter than pores of gold. How- 



120 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

ever, there is no doubt that there are many who assert that 
spirit of niter is subtilized by salt, that is, its particles are made 
smaller. But if this were actually so, then spirit of niter, care- 
fully separated from spirit of salt, since it had been made finer, 
would dissolve gold in this state alone, which does not happen 
at all. 



There are also other reports which indicate that large diam- 
eters of pores do not facilitate entry of liquids into solid bodies 
at all. Thus, mercury easily passes into the pores of gold, a very 
dense body, but does not penetrate into wood, leather, and 
paper, which are very porous bodies, unless force is used. 



Neither can we find much to hope for with different forms 
of pores or particular shapes in order to explain the reasons 
for differing penetrations of solvents into bodies. Actually, if 
the qualities of a particular body depend on this, then a great 
disparity of shape should exist between the particles of mer- 
cury and aqua fortis; for these two bodies differ in many qual- 
ities: ability to pass and reflect light rays, taste, density, and 
differing abilities to act on homogeneous bodies. Nevertheless, 
both these solvents pass into the same pores of the same body, 
namely, silver. That the shape of a body impedes very little its 
entrance into a sufficiently wide passage is also evident without 
scientific study: we can see that people, pack horses, and wag- 
ons, in spite of their different shapes, pass through a wide gate. 



The entry of a liquid into the pores of a solid body is noth- 
ing more than the combination of both bodies into one, like 
the mixing of liquid bodies. The difference lies only in this, 
that when two liquid bodies are mixed, they both penetrate 
into each others pores by internal progressive motion, and 
when a liquid body combines with a solid, only the liquid 
body enters the pores of the solid by internal progressive mo- 
tion. 



When liquids are blended, one mixes more easily, another 



121 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

with more difficulty: thus water easily mixes with aqueous 
spirits such as acid or ardent spirits, but does not give combi- 
nation with oils; in the same way also for fused solid bodies: 
metallic bodies combine much more easily with metals, earthy 
bodies with earths, salts with salts than do metallic bodies with 
earths or rocks or fused salts. Hence it is clear that the parti- 
cles of liquid bodies of the same type penetrate each other 
more easily and more readily enter the pores by progressive 
motion than do particles of different types of liquid bodies. 



Thus, as a measure of the similarity of type, we should deter- 
mine the entry of liquids into the pores of solid bodies (7), 
that is, liquids should more easily penetrate the pores of similar 
solid bodies, and with more difficulty the pores of different 
sorts. This is confirmed by the following experiment. On sep- 
aration of the precious metals from the lower ones in the assay- 
ing furnace, the fused lead does not enter the cupel until it 
vitrifies. This means that up to that time the metal retains in- 
flammable material in itself which imparts luster and ductility 
to it, and it cannot mix with the ash forming the cupel and 
penetrate its pores. But when the phlogiston is driven out by 
force of fire, the other constituent part of the lead remains and 
this latter, losing ductility and metallic luster, vitrifies and 
penetrates the pores of the cupel, which is a body also capable 
of vitrifying; this means similarity of type, and so it is carried 
into the pores of everything which can undergo vitrification. 
Therefore it is not surprising that gold and silver do not enter 
the ash of the cupel, for they never vitrify. 

10 

Since similarity of type, which facilitates entry of liquids 
into solid bodies, consists in identity of the material itself, it 
is vain to seek it in the pores themselves; the reason why spe- 
cific solvents easily enter the pores of the dissolving body does 
not lie in them, for the pores are nothing else than spaces 
which do not contain the material of the actual body. 

11 
Thus, since almost everything which has been proposed up 



122 



Action of Chemical Solvents In General 

to now concerning the cause of solution does not have a firm 
foundation, we feel that It Is not useless to create a more exact 
theory of this cause, considering in more detail the physical 
and chemical experiments which can supply some sort of ex- 
planation for solution, and comparing them with each other. 
Here, however, we will not give a complete explanation of the 
separate special properties by virtue of which different solvents 
act on different dissolving bodies (this cannot be expressed and 
clarified until the number of chemical principles has been de- 
cided and their chemical nature becomes exactly known), but 
we propose only to describe the reasons for solution in general. 

12 

Thus, studying the general causes for solution, we will at- 
tempt to show how and by what forces solvents can separate 
the particles of the dissolving substance, nullifying the Internal 
cohesion. The acting particles of the solvent and the action 
itself are not evident to the senses; it therefore remains for us 
to attempt to find the truth by centering all attention on the 
effects alone which accompany solution. 

13 

Comparing these effects with each other, we find that in one 
case they are the same, and In another contradictory. The best 
known such cases are: acid spirits are heated in the solution 
of metals, but water is cooled in the solution of salts. These 
effects depend on opposite causes, so that we suspect that metals 
are dissolved in acid spirits differently than are salts in water. 
Since experiments on solution in a vacuum which we have 
carried out have shown full agreement with the theory which 
we had previously worked out, we have strengthened it by 
these experiments so that now they are firmly established. 

14 

When aqua f ortis acts on metals, effervescence is usually pro- 
duced; In order to observe this I took an iron wire, short and 
thin, and fastened each end of it with wax to a glass jar; in the 
middle of the wire I placed a drop of spirit of niter diluted 
with water so that solution occurred slowly (a rapidly occur- 
ring process of this type is too indistinct and difficult to ob- 



123 



Action o Chemical Solvents in General 

serve): above the drop which was dissolving the iron I placed 
a sufficiently strong microscope. Bubbles of air arose from the 
surface of the wire along with particles of iron of a brown 
color which, like the air bubbles, were driven off in a di- 
rection perpendicular to the iron wire, and though I often 
changed its position, yet they retained their perpendicular di- 
rection. After this, using stronger spirit, I again watched solu- 
tion of the wire under the microscope. I saw a great mass of 
particles driven off with countless bubbles continuously fol- 
lowing each other; they came from the surface of the wire in 
a perpendicular direction and appeared in the light of a candle 
like countless glittering fountains, or rather, like entertaining 
fireworks shot simultaneously into the air. The particles of 
iron in the latter case were not seen until, repelled further 
from the wire, they moved into the solvent with a confused 
motion. 

15 

Thus the particles of metal were repulsed by the strength 
of the solvent in a direction perpendicular to the surface of 



B 




E 



Fig. 1 



124 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

the dissolving body [Fig. 1]. Let us assume that particles af are 
repulsed by the action of the solvent from the surface BC of 
the body BCDE in the direction ag; it is therefore necessary 
that the solvent acted on them in the same direction, that is, 
pushed them from a to g; but to push from a to g it cannot 
do otherwise than to hit part of the surface of the dissolving 
body ff on the other side from the closest dissolving surface of 
BC; the solvent cannot hit this unless it is first placed between 
the particles af and the other parts of the dissolving body in 
the spaces ff; that is, the acid spirit cannot dissolve the metal 
except in entering its pores. 

16 

Metals fused in a very strong fire effervesce and, like acid 
spirits and water, throw off bubbles of air, a clear indication 
that in metals, as in acid spirits and water, air is present, scat- 
tered through their pores, and is driven off from them by heat; 
by virtue of its particular lightness this rises and forms bubbles. 

17 

As soon as metals are dipped into acid spirits they at once 
throw off bubbles of air from their surfaces; hence it is clear 
that the air, scattered in the pores of each body or one of them 
expands at the moment of solution, that is, shows the effect of 
its elasticity. This can occur for three reasons: 1) by removal 
of the pressure of the outside air; 2) by the air itself taking up 
a greater degree of heat; 3) finally by introduction of a larger 
amount of air into the same receptacle. 

18 

Since the solution of metals, accompanied by effervescence 
of the solvent, always occurs under atmospheric pressure, it is 
quite evident that this expansion of air does not come from 
the first reason mentioned. Further, acid spirits dissolving met- 
als first effervesce, then are heated, and the heat which follows 
effervescence is always much less than that which occurs on boil- 
ing of acid spirits exposed to fire; therefore the expansion of 
air which produces effervescence in acid spirits dissolving met- 
als does not depend at all on increased heat. Hence a sufficient 
reason for the boiling of aqua fortis is found in the compres- 



125 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

sion of air scattered in the pores of the aqua fortis itself or 

of the metal. 

19 

Thus, we must accept the observed compression of air in 
the pores of the spirit solvent or of the metal itself. Since the 
particles of spirit, the liquid body, do not cohere very strongly 
to each other, they cannot resist the air condensing in their 
pores and expanding by reason of its great elasticity; therefore 
they should give way to the rising tension since the air, ex- 
panding quietly in bubbles because of its lightness rises with- 
out any agitation to the surface of the liquid. But the air 
bubbles liberated at the time of solution are precipitately 
repelled perpendicularly to the surface of the metal at any 
position of the latter (14); therefore we cannot assume that 
this air was condensed in the pores of the solvent spirit, and 
hence it should be in the pores of the solid body, that is of the 
metal itself, iron, from whose surface it was evolved in small 
bubbles. 

20 

But air cannot be concentrated in the pores of the metal 
without addition of new air to that already in them; and in 
the course of solution no air can be added except that enter- 
ing with the solvent into the pores of the metal, that is, air 
which occurs in the pores of the solvent. This is confirmed by 
further results. 

21 

Air scattered in the pores of the liquid penetrates the closest 
and narrowest pores of the solid body into which it cannot go 
alone. The reason for this can easily be seen from our theory 
of the elastic force of air (24 and 26), and this truth, con- 
firmed by experiments made by the illustrious Wolff with the 
pores of a bladder, is well known to physics. 

22 

When the air under the bell of an air pump is exhausted, 
boiling is produced in acid spirits with much more difficulty 
than in water; hence it is evident that air is more strongly 



126 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

fixed in the pores o acid spirits than in the pores of water 

and that hence this air penetrates the pores of solid bodies 
with these spirits more easily than with water. 

23 

When liquid homogeneous bodies touch each other, they 
mix together, so that a drop of water adds to itself a sec- 
ond drop nearest to it; two globules of mercury, when they 
reach sufficient contact absorb each other at once and form a 
single globule; therefore there is no doubt that particles of 
air also along with acid spirit penetrate the pores of the metal 
and because of the fine separation of the solvent, the liberated 
particles are combined with the air molecules present between 
the particles of the metal. 

24 

It is easy to see what follows from everything which has been 
said, if we keep in mind first those properties of air which 
were discussed earlier 1 and to which we have given the name 
regenerated elastic force of air. 

25 

Certainly the natural properties of air are such that its most 
minute particles, removed from mutual contact, occur as in- 
clusions between the particles of some denser body, and have 
almost no elasticity, but, liberated from their prison they allow 
themselves to come into mutual contact and again regain their 
half-dead elasticity and show it with respect to a resisting body. 
Very many experiments carried out by the most excellent Hales 
have shown this most clearly, and we have made many experi- 
ments for this purpose, of which the following are most suit- 
able for strengthening the assumptions of our theory. I poured 
5 drams of spirit of niter into a vessel with a narrow neck and 
put into it 2 drams of copper; I immediately tied a bladder 
tightly to the neck of the vessel, after which as much air as 
possible was driven out from it; solution stopped after about 
the fourth hour and the bladder was very much inflated with 
air evolved from the metal and spirit; tying up the bladder 

1, Attempt at a Theory of the Elastic Force of Air, 26. 



127 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

over the neck of the vessel with thread, I took it from the 
vessel and did not doubt that it was full of true air, for after 
pinching the bladder with the fingers it again assumed its for- 
mer shape; placed in snow it became limper and on placing 
it near a furnace it inflated again; pricked with a needle and 
compressed, it emitted a stream of air which set in motion light 
objects near it and the flame of a candle. Making a careful 
measurement, I determined the ratio of the volume of air ex- 
panded by regeneration of the elasticity to the volume of spirit 
and metal as 68 : 1 and to the metal, of which 1 dram was 
dissolved, as 2312 : L From these experiments it is quite evi- 
dent that air scattered in the pores of the bodies lacks almost 
all of its elasticity and, on the contrary, after its particles are 
liberated from the enclosing body and come into mutual con- 
tact, their elasticity is again restored. 

26 

The elastic property of air regulated in this way has sur- 
prising actions. It breaks vessels in which water is converted 
into ice; iron tubes fly apart with a great noise. Evidently under 
the influence of cold, water is compressed into less space; its 
pores are made narrower and air is squeezed out from it, as 
is indicated by the numerous bubbles which cooled water gives 
off; the liberated air particles collect together as homogeneous 
bodies mixed together; they again attain the elasticity inherent 
in them which was previously lost by separation and expand, 
forming bubbles, and thus when an innumerable number of 
particles has collected, forming innumerable bubbles, the water 
at the moment of transformation into ice expands and breaks 
the strongest vessel which contains it. The truth of this is 
shown by the fact that ice removed from the vessel broken by 
it is filled with innumerable bubbles and lacks almost all trans- 
parency. 

27 

Considering all this we do not find it diflicult to show the 
actual force which scatters the particles of metal torn off by 
acid spirit. Particles of air entering with the acid spirit into 
the pores of the metal on solution combine with those which 
were previously present in the metal (21); from this they re- 



128 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

gain the lost elasticity (24, 25, 26), trying to expand into a 
greater space and not being able to endure the narrow pores, 
they seek an outlet; and since they are blocked in and locked 
up by the acid corpuscles which are following them they break 
off the particles of metal which oppose them and drive these 
through the spirit. Evidently the particles of acid spirit on 
solution introduce particles of air into the pores of the metal 
and the air tears the particles from the metal by its regained 
elasticity. 

28 

For the study and confirmation of this theory I have made 
the following experiments. I poured into a cylindrical glass 
vessel 5 drams of aqua fortis and placed it under the bell of 
an air pump. After several strokes of the piston, air was 
pumped out and air bubbles began to evolve from the aqua 
fortis, frequent but small. After the fourth hour I put the sol- 
vent out in the open air again and placed in it a copper coin, 
which we call denga. After the first 20 minutes I poured in a 
large amount of water and cleaned the coin of sediment and 
adherent moisture; I weighed it and found that it had lost 74 
grains. Then I placed a second copper coin, equal and similar 
to the first, in 5 drams of the same aqua fortis, but from which 
the air had not been driven off, and I placed it in the same 
vessel and put it in the same place for solution. After the first 
20 minutes the coin was 85 grains lighter. This experiment 
showed that acid spirit acts on metals more strongly if it con- 
tains a larger amount of scattered air and hence each portion 
of aqua fortis introduces with itself a more considerable amount 
of air into the pores of the metal; the elasticity rises more 
rapidly and tears off pieces of metal more often. 

29 

Then I took the aqua fortis in the same two identical por- 
tions and poured them into two vessels, equal and of the same 
shape, and at the same instant dropped into each a copper coin 
which we call a poluschka, each one of which weighed 50 
grains; one vessel remained in the open air, the other was 
placed under the bell of an air pump. Both coins at first dis- 
solved with the same effervescence of the solvent. But when 



129 



Action of Chemical Solvents In General 

several strokes of the piston had pumped out the air from the 
bell, the solvent began to boil much more strongly: the bub- 
bles were larger and they were evolved more often than in the 
previous experiment. At the end of 11 minutes both coins 
were simultaneously removed from the solvent, freed from sedi- 
ment and moisture, and weighed. That which was dissolved 
under the bell lost 10 grains, and that which was dissolved in 
the open air lost 26 grains. Thus, in this experiment the ex- 
cess of copper dissolved in the aqua fortis which contained the 
whole weight of scattered air was relatively much more than 
in the previous experiment, namely, In the first experiment 
the ratio was as 11 to 74, in the second as 16 to 10. The ex- 
planation of the fact is this. The aqua fortis dissolving the 
metal under the bell of the air pump was warmed and lost a 
greater amount of air than in the previous experiment; thus 
the solvent was deprived of a large amount of the air scattered 
in It and therefore should act on the metal with less force. 

30 

These and other phenomena accompanying the solution of 
metals fully agree with the proposed theory: most important 
here is the heat connected with the effervescence of the solvent. 
The elasticity of air regenerated In the pores of the metal tears 
off particles of the metal which are carried off through the sol- 
vent, causing friction on the particles of the latter and causing 
them to rotate, and since rotary motion is the cause of heat 2 
then it Is not surprising that aqua fortis grows hot when dis- 
solving metals. 

31 

Spirit of niter with zinc gives a very great effervescence and 
Is strongly heated; with Iron, somewhat less so, with copper, 
less still, much less with silver, very little with lead and mer- 
cury. Hence it is evident that metals and semimetals, especially 
the lighter ones, produce a greater effervescence and heat in 
spirit of niter than the specifically heavier ones, which fully 
agrees with our theory. For the physicist does not doubt that 
metals and semimetals, specifically lighter, consist of a lesser 

2. Mediations on the Cause of Heat and Gold, 11. 



130 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

amount of coherent material and hence have more or more 

frequent pores than the specifically heavier material. Therefore 
they contain a greater amount of scattered air; more air is 
additionally introduced with the solvent into the pores of the 
metal, and there is a greater increase in elasticity which acts 
more strongly on the particles of metal, tearing them off more 
strongly and leading to more rapid rotary motion of the par- 
ticles of spirit of niter, markedly increasing the boiling and 



heating. 



532 



If iron is dissolved in alkali and precipitated by vinegar, 
then spirit of niter dissolves the calx without effervescing. It 
is just the same on mixing a solution of copper green in dis- 
tilled vinegar with aqua fortis; the latter takes the copper into 
itself, but no effervescing occurs. In both cases the particles of 
metal have no mutual cohesion and hence do not require the 
same force which in other cases tears them off, but these par- 
ticles immediately adhere to the added particles of solvent 
and spread with it by progressive motion. Therefore no ac- 
cumulation of particles of scattered air occurs, its elasticity is 
not regenerated, and there is no effervescence or heat. 



When we take sufficiently concentrated portions of the same 
acid spirit for solution of metals, but one of the portions is 
somewhat diluted by mixing with water, then this dissolves a 
greater amount of metal than the first, due to the greater 
amount of air scattered through the large volume. 

34 

When a sufficiently strong spirit of niter is used for solution 
of the metal, solution is completed quickly, since the solvent 
ceases to act. But if after several days metal is immersed in the 
same spirit, then again a considerable amount of it is dissolved. 
Evidently, when violent solution occurs, the spirit becomes 
somewhat deficient in air so that it can no longer act on the 
metal; but when in the course of time it receives into its pores 
aerial particles from the surrounding air, it again acquires the 
ability to dissolve. 



131 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

35 

A high degree of confidence is gained in physical problems 
if a thesis is studied and demonstrated a priori and is confirmed 
by phenomena and experiments so that it is also in agreement 
with mathematical truth. In order to establish such a degree of 
validity for this theory, we should show that the elasticity of 
the air regenerated in the pores of the metal is sufficient to 
break off its particles. 

36 

For this purpose it is necessary first of all to consider what 
force is required to produce such action, that is, how strong 
is the mutual cohesion of the particles which the force of the 
air regenerated in the pores of the metal breaks off from the 
surface of the latter. The illustrious Musschenbroeck found by 
experiment that in order to break up a copper wire whose 
diameter was 1/10 inch of a Rhenish foot divided into 12 
equal parts or 1 19/120 of a line of the royal Parisian foot 
[about 2.6 mm] required a weight of 299 14 Amsterdam 
pounds, which equals the Parisian one [about 146 kg]. Under 
the microscope which increased the diameter of the body 360 
times, I found the finest particles of copper dissolved in spirit 
of niter had an apparent diameter of 1/2 line of the Parisian 
foot. Therefore the true diameter equalled 1/720 line. We 
suggest that the wire itself, consisting of such particles arranged 
beside each other in a continuous series and cohering by strong 
linkages has a diameter equal to that of the particles them- 
selves. Since the force required for breaking a homogeneous 
body is double the diameter of the body itself, therefore the 
force required for breaking this finest fiber is related to the 
weight of 2991/4 pounds as the square of the diameter of the 
same wire to the square of the diameter of the wire broken by 
a load of 29914 pounds, that is, = (1/720) 2 : (1 19/120) 2 = 
(1/720) 2 : (834/720) 2 = 1 : 695 556; hence it equals 1197/2 
782 224 pounds or 3 846 288/2 782 224 grains. This force 
equals the force of cohesion of the particles of copper broken 
off by the elasticity of the air which is regenerated in the pores 
of the metal. 

37 

Whoever finds air massively evolved from the metal at the 
time of solution can easily admit that it occupies the greater 



132 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

part of the bladder tied to the neck of the vessel (25). It is 
true that we do not deny that the bubbles arising from the cop- 
per and directing themselves through the spirit to its surface 
are added to the particles of air scattered through the solvent, 
which also enter the bladder and inflate it; but this occurs only 
at the beginning of the solution. For if it continued longer, 
the bubbles rising from the metal not only would be less large, 
but would disappear entirely before reaching the surface of 
the solvent, since the solvent, eager for air (25) would again 
disperse them throughout its pores; this we find not only for 
copper, but also for lead and mercury at the time of their 
solution; and so it is that no less amount of air, regenerated 
in the metal, is again dispersed through the pores of the solvent 
nor enters the bladder except at the beginning of the solution 
when it was added to it by the bubbles which were formed. 
Similarly, observe that not long after solution, when fixed 
alkali is mixed in, the spirit effervesces strongly, a clear sign 
that there remains in its pores after the process of solution a 
large force of the air. In order that it will not seem that we 
have suggested something arbitrary, we assume that 1312 parts 
(25) of expanded air pass into the bladder from the pores of 
the solvent and the remaining 1000 parts actually are regen- 
erated and expanded in the pores of the metal. Therefore the 
volume of the dissolved metal relates to the volume of air 
arising in its pores and expanding into the bladder as 1 to 
1000; hence in breaking off any particle of copper there would 
act an amount of expanded air relating to the particle itself 
by a volume ratio of 1000 to 1; therefore the diameter of the 
bubble of expanded air after breaking off the corpuscle would 
relate to the diameter of the corpuscle as 10 to 1, that is, would 
equal 1/72 of aline. 

38 

A cubic inch of mercury weighs 8 ounces 6 drams and 8 
grains. Hence a cylinder of mercury supported by pressure of 
the atmosphere with a height of 28 Parisian inches, diameter 
1/72 of a line weighs about 7 838 595 072 / 63 207 309 312 
grains; since this weight equals the pressure of the air column 
which is above the bubble evolved from the pores of the metal 
(37) and which supports this column, then the elasticity of 
the bubble equals the weight of this column of mercury. Since 



133 



Action of Chemical Solvents In General 

this bubble before expansion, while acting in the pores of the 
metal on the corpuscle, was compressed in a space a thousand 
times narrower (37) (here I do not consider the narrowness of 
the pores; for the air before occurrence of the elasticity does 
not occupy the volume of the whole metal, but the particular 
material of the latter occupies the greater part of the volume), 
then its elasticity will be greater by a thousand times, that is, 
will equal in weight 124 888 717 312 / 63 207 309 312 grains 
and hence will exceed the cohesion of the copper (37) by 
more than 2 drams. Therefore it is not at all surprising that 
the particles of copper torn by such rapid motion from the sur- 
face of the metal are carried off through the solvent. 

39 

After this, it remains for us to study the force which frees 
the particles of salt put into water from mutual cohesion, and 
distributes them through the water. In order to explain this 
we must first note that all salts contain a considerable amount 
of water which is abundantly separated from them in a receiver 
during distillation; and although from some volatile salts no 
water separates, yet by analogy and by the ease of their com- 
bination with water we assert the same thing concerning them. 

40 

Salts dissolved in water on slow evaporation are converted 
into clear crystals, hence they take their form in water; there- 
fore it is necessary to assume that the pores of the salts are 
filled with water. This is also shown by their transparency; for 
the body is porous and little transparent in itself, but being 
filled with water, it becomes transparent. Thus vitriol, heated 
on a slow fire to whiteness but in such a way that its most 
minute parts do not break down, is made opaque; but when it 
takes added water into its pores, it again becomes transparent. 
Sugar obtained by crystallization from water is transparent, 
but that formed by evaporation of the final form transmits light 
rays scarcely or not at all; however, water entering the pores 
makes it more transparent. 

41 

Since the pores of salts (not heated) are filled with water, 
then salts, being put into water, cannot absorb it into them- 



134 



Action of Chemical Solvents In General 

selves. Hence it is evident that the air scattered through water 
also does not enter the pores of the salts and therefore cannot 
expand In them from engendered elasticity nor act on the par- 
ticles of salt. 

42 

The correctness of this Is confirmed by the following experi- 
ment. I placed a glass vessel half filled with water under the 
bell of an air pump and repeated strokes of the piston several 
times to remove the air; frequent air bubbles rose from the 
water. When I judged the water was sufficiently free from air, 
I exposed the vessel to the open air along with another vessel 
equal and similar in form to the first, in which was the same 
amount of water (from which, however, the air had not been 
removed). In both I placed the same pieces of rock salt of 
cubic form, weighing 50 grains; in the course of one hour the 
piece of salt which was dissolved in the water submitted to 
pumping out the air lost 27 grains, and In that containing air, 
15 grains. 

43 

It is evident from this experiment: 1) that air scattered in the 
pores of water not only cannot dissolve salts, but even is an 
impediment to this: how truly It hinders this will be shown 
in 47, and this itself will confirm our theory; 2) it Is necessary 
to conclude that particles of salt are separated from each other 
by the action of the water particles themselves. 

44 

When a solid body is made liquid, its particles are excited to 
a more rapid rotary motion. Hence, on liquifying salts in water 
the rotary motion of the salt particles is hastened. Since the 
salts are dissolved by the action of the particles of the water 
itself (43), then it follows that the water particles, like a more 
liquid body, are rotated in faster rotary motion and approach 
the salt particles Immersed in the water and touch them as 
well as the water particles which are homogeneous to them- 
selves and which make up the mixed salts; these are set into 
faster rotary motion. Due to this the salt particles separate 
from the rest o the mass and, adhering to the water molecules, 



135 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 

begin progressive motion with them, and thus they are scattered 

through the solvent. 

45 

When any body hastens the motion of another, then it gives 
to it part of its own motion, but to give part of its motion it 
cannot do otherwise than lose exactly the same part. Therefore 
the particles of water, in hastening the rotary motion of the 
salt particles, lose part of their rotary motion. Since the latter 
is the cause of heat, it is not at all surprising that the water is 
cooled in dissolving the salt. 

47 3 

Since air is scattered in the pores of the water, then the 
water particles, alternating with air particles, are somewhat 
rarefied, as the following experiment shows. We poured water 
which had been pumped free of air into a vessel with a narrow 
neck, leaving over it a small space filled with air. We closed 
the neck with a stopper and sealed it with wax so that no sur- 
rounding air could enter; during one or two days the air 
which remained over the water entered into it and the vessel 
appeared full of water; this clearly showed that the water was 
expanded by the air scattered through it. Therefore, when salt 
is put into water saturated with distributed air, a lesser num- 
ber of particles of the solvent itself touch the surface of the 
salt and it acts on them more slowly so that their solution is 
slower. 

48 

Of the actions mentioned up to now, by the aid of which 
solvents dissolve bodies placed in them, we can call the first 
mediated^ the second, direct. For in the first case the solvent 
breaks off particles of the dissolving body by means of the 
engendered elasticity o the air, and in the second case the 
solvent itself acts by its own particles. Since mediated solution 
produces heat and direct solution cold, these effects should be 
considered as signs of one or the other. 

3. [ 46 is absent in the printed text.] 



136 



Action of Chemical Solvents in General 
49 

Besides the solution of metals in acid spirits and of salts in 
water it remains to discuss amalgamation and partial solution; 
also extractions and decoctions, solution of bitumen in fatty 
oils, etc.; although these cases seem different from the first, 
yet we do not doubt that these solutions occur either by one 
or the other process, or both together. Since, however, there 
are few experiments which in any way serve for judging this 
and we have no opportunity to make new experiments, at 
present we will refrain from discussing them. 

50 

In our problem, we started to explain why the specifically 
heavier particles of metals and salts were suspended in their 
solvents and did not sink according to the usual laws in specif- 
ically lighter liquids. But since all this is shown in sufficient 
detail by the most learned Freind 4 and Heinsius 5 we will re- 
frain from repeating all this. 

4. In lectures on chemistry. 

5. In the description of the comet, 1744. 



137 



On the Luster of Metals 

At a session of the Academy of Sciences on May 3, 1745, Lomonosov, 
then an adjunct, formally requested appointment as professor of 
chemistry, that is, as a full academician. He was requested to pre- 
pare an essay on some theme in the science of metals, and proceeded 
to do so in all haste. On June 14 he read his essay "De tincturis 
metallorum," and on August 7 he received the appointment he de- 
sired. This is one of the more clearly chemical writings of Lomon- 
osov and offers the best evidence of his views on the nature of 
phlogiston. It was published in Latin in the Commentarii Aca- 
demiae sdentiarum imperialis Petropolitanae, 14:286-298 (1751). 
The Latin text and Russian translation appeared in Collected 
Works, I (1951), pp. 389-417, and the Russian translation is given 
in Selected Works, pp. 43-57. 



Q A 

Those who have the pleasure of seeing a good mineral col- 
lection or who do not hesitate to crawl into dark and dusty 
mines well know how different and admirable are the bodies 
which nature bears in the bowels of the earth. Some minerals 
show a play of luxuriant colors, various and beautiful, and 
since they often appear themselves to be of the greatest value 
they lead those who do not know mineralogy into error. Other 
minerals, covered with a rough coating, deceive the gaze of 
inexperienced persons and seem worthless. Thus the outward 
appearance of precious metals is often ugly, and of the lesser 
metals, beautiful. Finally, many minerals have forms usually 
found in natives of the earth's surface, or of the air, or water: 
these are actually true animals or plants which after a very 
long time interval have acquired the hardness of rocks or actual 
minerals while still showing in their form their ancient, intri- 
cate nature. 

o 
JL, 

With the same admiration we see in the metals which we 
use when already refined and which are intrinsically hard 
bodies, the property of ductility and malleability, and we find 



138 



On the Luster of Metals 

that these bodies, most worthy of the light of day and so lus- 
trous, occur in the Invisible depths of the mountains. By these 
very qualities they differ most sharply from other bodies, so 
that they can appropriately be defined as lustrous and ductile 
bodies. 



These unexpected qualities which make up the visible dif- 
ference of metals from other bodies are inherent in certain of 
them to a greater degree than in others* Thus, some are con- 
verted easily enough by the action of fire into ashes and glass, 
losing their luster and ductility; others are not changed at all; 
to some we give the name precious, to others, nonpreclous. 
The first include gold and silver, the other four are copper 
and tin, Iron and lead. 

4 

The qualities of bodies cannot undergo any sort of change 
unless there is some change in their insensible particles. But a 
change in a body can occur only if something is added or re- 
moved from it, or the arrangement of its particles is changed. 
The nonprecious metals when burned evolve vapors which 
affect the sense of smell and cause coughing. Lead is converted 
into a glass by a strong fire in the assaying oven and emits a 
smoke visible to the eyes; this effect clearly indicates that cal- 
cination and glass formation of nonpreclous metals occur due 
to the removal of some of their particles. 

5 

Although calcined metals increase in weight, whence we 
could conclude that this change is brought about by addition 
of some sort of foreign material, yet it is true that: 1) reduc- 
tion of a metal mentioned below (10 and 11) indicates the 
removal of material; 2) a metal which is converted to a glass 
loses in absolute weight; 3) increase of weight of calcined 
bodies can occur from an entirely different cause than from 
addition of any external material; this is agreed to by every- 
one who does not deny that gravitational material should act 
more strongly on the sides of corpuscles freed from mutual 
contacts by calcination. 



139 



On the Luster o Metals 

6 

But if we remove by strong fire or by any other method par- 
ticles of a mixed body which are similar to the whole body 
because of the qualities and composition of these particles, 
then the body does not undergo any change in qualities, but 
only its mass is decreased. This also occurs when we distill 
mercury or sublime sulfur. But nonprecious metals change 
their forms by calcination and glass formation (3). Thus it is 
evident that they are mixed bodies and that at the time of 
calcination and glass formation some volatile constituent part 
is removed from them. 



As long as this volatile constituent part of the nonprecious 
metals occurs in them the luster of the metal and its ductility 
remain inviolable; and only when it is driven out by the vio- 
lence of the fire do these metals break down to ash and finally 
melt into a brittle, nonlustrous mass. It is clear from all this 
that luster and ductility of the lower metals depends on this 
volatile principle. 

8 

Although precious metals, undergoing the action of strong 
fire for months, do not lose their strength, yet analogy offers 
a very strong argument that a sufficient basis for their luster 
and ductility lies in some volatile constituent part which co- 
heres to a fixed constituent part of them much more strongly. 
There are indications by famous chemists which show that gold 
and silver slowly and by prolonged calcination can be con- 
verted to ash. 1 This will be more evident from what is given 
below (14, 15, 19). 

9 

Since this volatile constituent part of the metals imparts 
metallic form to them and as it were gives them their lustrous 
color, then it is pertinent to give it the name luster. 

1. Stahl In Treatise on Salts, chap. 31. 



140 



On the Luster of Metals 
10 

Niter, though submitted to the action of the flame in a 
crucible up to red heat, does not burn with a flame unless we 
add to it a body containing inflammable material; then it 
immediately bursts into flame. Nonprecious metals in filings 
give a flash with this salt in the fire. Hence it is fully evident 
that there is some inflammable material in nonprecious metals. 
When this is driven out by an explosion, the remaining metal 
is converted to a glassy mass: therefore it is perfectly evident 
that the luster of nonprecious metals consists chiefly of this 
inflammable substance which is usually called phlogiston among 
chemists. 

11 

The truth of this assertion is also supported by the reduction 
of metals which restores to glasses and metallic slags luster and 
ductility. However, for reduction of metals it is necessary to 
use phlogiston. The so-called black flux which is usually used 
for this purpose is nothing else than charcoal from tartar 
burned with niter. Litharge with powdered wood charcoal, 
calx of tin with charcoal from burned tallow, on ignition in 
the fire with sulfur and the herb Nicotiniana gain the form 
of metals. All these bodies are saturated with inflammable ma- 
terial. 

12 

Another chemical operation shows this also. Thus, on solu- 
tion of any nonprecious metal, especially iron, in acid spirit 
there emerges from the opening of the flask a combustible 
vapor which is nothing else than phlogiston, evolved by fric- 
tion of the solvent with molecules of the metal, 2 and removed 
by the entrapped air with the more tenuous particles of the 
spirit. For: 1) pure vapors of acid spirit are noninflammable; 
2) the calxes of metals destroyed by the loss of inflammable 
vapors cannot be reduced at all without addition of some 
body rich in inflammable material. 

2. Our Dissertation on the Action of Chemical Solvents, 14 and 31, Nov. 
Comm. f Vol. 1. 



141 



On the Luster of Metals 

13 

When iron is dissolved in very concentrated oil of vitriol, a 
black powder falls to the bottom, which shows the presence of 
sulfur. 3 The latter consists of phlogiston and acid of sulfur 
whose properties are identical with the properties of vitriolic 
acid. Hence the phlogiston of the iron is added to the vitriolic 
acid which dissolves the iron, and thus sulfur is composed. 

14 

According to Becher, 4 a black powder is formed from mud 
impregnated with linseed oil, rolled into balls, then roasted 
and freed from the lighter earth; from this iron is extracted 
with a magnet; in the iron is gold; this is never found without 
the linseed oiL For preparation of bronze from copper we take 
calamine and add to it ground up wood charcoal so that part 
of this mineral, taking on the nature of a metal, is reduced and 
can combine with copper. 5 

15 

The facts given previously are sufficient to establish the cor- 
rectness of the position which we gave in 10. Though all this 
relates more to the nonprecious metals, yet their easy combina- 
tion with the precious metals on fusing shows perfectly clearly 
the similarity of these in their luster, the more so in that the 
color of the most precious of all the metals is strengthened by 
the phlogiston of the nonprecious metals. Thus regulus anti- 
monii martialis or venereus which are impregnated by the 
phlogiston of iron or copper give a more beautiful color to 
gold. When in the purification of metals we use stronger waters 
we try to retain in them the subtle vapors which are evolved 
with the solution (and also the inflammable vapor, 12) by 
adding the metal in very small portions to the solvent, 6 so that 
with the aid of this vapor the gold is extracted from the pure 
silver. 

16 
That metals attain luster in the depths of the earth is shown 

3. Stahl, Treatise on sulfur. 

4. On Mineral Ores. 

5. Stahl, Treatise on sulfur. 

6. Kunkel, Chemical Laboratory, part III, chap. 26. 



142 



On the Luster of Metals 

quite evidently not only by gold, silver, and copper, which are 
often found free, but this is also indicated for those metals 
which occur in combination with other minerals. Thus, spirit 
of niter dissolves several pyrites rich in iron; here the sulfur 
which is united with the metal falls to the bottom in the form 
of a powder, 7 an obvious indication that iron, even in a vein, 
does not lose its phlogiston, since a metal lacking its phlogis- 
ton should not undergo the action of spirit of niter at all. Note 
that with calcined metals sulfur does not give minerals, but 
with uncalcined ones it does. 

17 

The foresight of the supreme Deity has so provided that 
mankind, scattered over the surface of the earth (and what 
part is not inhabited) would everywhere find metals for the 
satisfaction of its needs. Since for their formation a vast amount 
of luster-giving phlogiston is required, there is divine fore- 
sight in the appearance in the rich, deep bowels of the moun- 
tains of the fatty mineral which we call sulfur, due to which 
the metals were not only created at some time in the youngest 
period of the world, but are generated in large quantity up to 
the present day. 8 

7. Stahl, On Sulfur. 

8. Many, however, will assert that all metals were created by God at the 
creation of the world where they are now discovered by the work of miners. 
Nevertheless, there is very weighty evidence which testifies to the contrary, and 
I wish to present some of this here. In the Swedish province of Angermannia the 
inhabitants work a vein of iron at the bottom of a lake; and when they have 
recovered from the bottom all the substance, so that no more remains, then 
after 20-30 years it is again renewed and yields a harvest (Swedenborg, Opermn 
phil. et Met. Tom II, class I, 4). In the Duchy of Tuscany near Mount Vesulan 
there is a lead mine where the shafts and underground passages 10 years after 
removal of the ore are again filled and are again worked (Bruckman, Magnalia 
dei, Tom I, cap. 10). The island of Ilva [Elba] in the Sea of Tuscany is very 
rich in iron; the worked out metal on it is again renewed after 10 years just as it 
was in ancient times, according to the report of Virgil (Aeneid, Lib. X, v. 174): 
"The Island of Ilva abounds in inexhaustible iron ore/* In the mines of St. 
Lawrence in Abertamii, exhausted 20 years earlier, was found native silver 
generated on the wooden posts (Lohnheiss, Bericht von Bergwercken, I Theil). 
Of all this evidence, however, the most weighty is the impregnation often 
observed by miners in a fruitless vein by exhalation to form a rich vein, a process 
which the Germans call Wettern. 



143 



On the Luster of Metals 

18 

Earth contains in its depths such a quantity of sulfur that it 
is not only accumulated underground (we do not know a single 
mine or a single type of metal which would not contain sul- 
fur 9 ), but this mineral is even separated on the surface of the 
earth. In the islands of the burning Indies and in cold Iceland 
the mountains bear so much sulfur that their covering would 
seem to be gilded. Mineral springs often have natural flowers 
of sulfur. This is indicated in addition to everything else by 
the fires of volcanoes, where sulfur cannot be consumed, though 
they burn with great flames in the course of many centuries. 

19 

The following shows that it is just the phlogiston of sulfur 
which gives luster to metals in the earth. 1) Sulfur converted to 
a powder and ground with sand or mud and treated as de- 
scribed in 14 with mud and linseed oil gives metals. 10 2) The 
same mineral colors metals a brighter color, which can be 
seen in the bright minerals of lead and in pyrites composed 
of sulfur with iron and copper. 3) Gold, slowly ground with 
saliva and water, gives a sulfur odor. 11 4) But still more con- 
vincing is the complete identity of the phlogistons mentioned. 
Actually, just as metals are reduced from calxes and glasses for 
the most part by wood charcoal as we mentioned in 11 above, 
so also is the sulfur regenerated from oil of vitriol when in 
combination with a fixed alkali by the addition of powdered 
charcoal it first passes into the liver and then by addition of 
distilled vinegar milk of sulfur precipitates. 

20 

Nevertheless, metals differ considerably from each other in 
luster and ductility: the reason for this difference can be 
sought in the remaining component particles of the metal 
which are mixed in various proportions with phlogiston and 
are held along with it to the surface of each corpuscle of the 
metallic mixed body. Then since the luster and ductility come 

9. Ldhnheiss, Bericht von Bergwercken, I Theil. 

10. Stahl, Fund, chym., p. 102, 14. 

11. Stahl, Fund, chym., capite de auro. 



144 



On the Luster of Metals 

from the phlogiston, It follows that the more lustrous and 
ductile the metals, the more thickly does the phlogiston occur 
on their surfaces as compared to those which are less lustrous 
and ductile; and where the inflammable material adheres less 
thickly to the surfaces of the corpuscles of the mixed body, 
there the particles of their other constituents must be inter- 
posed and must be seen through the intersticies. 

21 

We are convinced on the basis of sufficiently weighty facts 
that an acid principle adds to the luster of some metals, and 
in each in a different amount. For metals obtain their phlogis- 
ton from sulfur (20), but have a binding quality inherent in 
acid bodies. Further, all metals are dissolved by acid spirits, 
and the faster, the more binding they are. Since dissolving a 
body in a solvent greatly helps its homogeneity, 12 there is no 
doubt that in metals, especially binding ones, along with 
phlogiston there is also acid. Therefore Swedenborg 13 not with- 
out reason considers that the raw sulfur which enters the com- 
position of iron is indeed the acid of sulfur combined with 
phlogiston. Compare the experiment described by the illus- 
trious Pott 14 who in his words obtained cinnabar from metals 
dissolved in spirit of niter, precipitated by common salt or its 
spirit, and distilled with mercury. Related to this is the fact 
that silver fused with sulfur is converted into a soft mineral, 
Glass-Ertz, not unlike lead; thus on addition of sulfur, metals 
up to now precious, very ductile and lustrous, come to resem- 
ble the nonprecious in character. 

22 

Arsenic has the property of giving metals luster; tin gives 
hardness and sound and makes them more dense; copper and 
iron whiten, and combined with nonprecious metals by alloy- 
ing and long treatment improve their particles* 15 Therefore it 
is very likely that some arsenic particles take part in the luster 
of metals (especially metals which when dug out of veins are 

12. Our Dissertation on the Action of Solvents, 10, Nov. Comm., Vol. 1 . 

13. Operum Phil, et Mental, Tom II de ferro, Class. I, 1. 

14. Dissertatio de sulphuribus metallorum, 4. 

15. Pott in Dissert, de anat. auripigmenti, 13. 



145 



On the Luster of Metals 

more often combined with arsenic than with sulfur), and that 
thanks to this they are distinguished from others by their luster 
and tensile strength. This can be asserted first of all with suf- 
ficient basis for tin. Actually, 1) this metal is always found in 
earth containing arsenic. 2) Its ductility yields much in tensile 
strength not only to the precious metals but also to some of 
the nonprecious metals (and the ductility is weakened by some 
principle while the heterogeneous fire material adds to the 
luster, 19). We have decided not to ascribe that which adds to 
the luster to the universal acid w r hich with tin is less binding 
than with other more ductile metals. 3) Tin is more inclined to 
dissolve in spirits containing acid salts. As far as it is analogous 
to arsenic we can see that tin alloyed with silver in the sub- 
stance hornstone and sublimed gives a poisonous material re- 
sembling arsenic in outward form. 

23 

There is a strong suspicion that also in the phlogiston of 
silver and copper there are some arsenic-composing particles, 
since they are both often extracted from earth along with arse- 
nic. When the vein of arsenical copper, built up into a pile, 
is dried by fire in the course of a month or more and is pre- 
pared for smelting, there grow up most beautiful copper fibers, 
displaying all the colors of the rainbow and fully deserving 
the name of the tree of Venus. This I have seen with the most 
illustrious Henckel several times with the red silver ore called 
Rothgillden Ertz. This famous author heated lumps of arseni- 
cal silver for a month in sand, regulating the strength of the 
fire in such a way that the arsenic could be sublimed, though 
very slowly. Then the silver after volatilization of the arsenic 
was drawn out in fine fibers. Both these experiments show at 
once the homogeneity of arsenic with silver and copper. 

24 

The statement (in 20-23) can be considerably strengthened 
by the fact that sulfur and arsenic, added in large quantities 
to metals by fusion, almost completely destroy their ductility. 
Therefore we suspect that regulus of antimony, zinc, and bis- 
muth are nothing more than metals containing an excess of 



146 



On the Luster of Metals 

sulfur or arsenic, or both, more closely bound to them and 
therefore making them brittle. 

25 

Since the acquiring of luster is not a little affected by even 
distribution of the particles on which the rays of the sun are 
reflected parallel, and shine more than on the disordered ones, 
it is not remarkable that in the semimetals mentioned above 
there is still some luster, though they do not have any ductility. 

26 

In order to report all this more clearly and to show this 
more strictly, we could give still more and still could never 
give all that we intended several years ago; in the absence of 
a chemical laboratory, 16 we are prevented from carrying out 
these experiments and therefore we lack the conclusions to be 
drawn from their evidence. 

27 

It is true that it is well known that there are some experi- 
ments which show how to remove sulfur and luster from 
metals; these experiments can be seen in the dissertation of 
the famous Pott on the sulfur of metals; but it is not easy to 
believe that these constituent parts of metals can be removed 
by themselves in pure and authentic form, since for their re- 
moval it is necessary to take salty and sulfurous bodies; al- 
though the latter are hidden under beautiful names by the 
expositors, we nevertheless cannot fail to suspect that in their 
use as media for extracting metals they are combined with 
the mixed corpuscles of the metals and very often, if not al- 
ways, they give to them what is sought. 



r !7 



27 

Most of all, to conclude, we consider it not unnecessary to 
add some conclusions based on the analogous assumption of 

16. This was true when this dissertation was written in 1745. However, one 
was constructed in 1748 during the presidency of the Academy of the most 
illustrious Count Razumovskii. 

17. [The number of this paragraph is repeated in the text.] 



147 



On the Luster of Metals 

the transmutation of metals, coming, as we assume, from the 
transmutations of their luster which we have studied. 

28 

Whoever looks into the spagyric art, even from the threshold, 
knows that weaker acids are driven off from alkalis by stronger 
ones and, as it were, separated out. Thus, vinegar is removed 
from potash by adding spirit of salt; this itself yields place to 
spirit of niter which is removed by stronger acids like sulfuric. 
Sulfuric acid is considered by chemists to be the purest of all 
and the most free from other types of particle; for they main- 
tain that in spirit of niter there is something combustible and 
in spirit of salt some arsenical particles; that vinegar is con- 
taminated by empyreumatic products is shown by its distilla- 
tion through sand. Acid particles are more and more weakened 
in this process and are less able to combine strongly with al- 
kalis. Their specific gravities agree with this, for the more 
concentrated the acid spirit of sulfur, the greater is its specific 
gravity, so that the heaviness of the spirits is increased by their 
acid particles. Thus a cubic inch of oil of vitriol, which is of 
the same nature as spirit of sulfur, weighs 7 drams 59 grains; 
of spirit of niter 6 drams 24 grains; of spirit of salt, 5 drams 
49 grains; of distilled vinegar 5 drams 11 grains. 18 

29 

We consider that nature, in transmuting metals, can behave 

in a similar way to the working of masters of the chemical 
arts. More concentrated phlogiston, coloring the more precious 
metals, adheres to them more strongly. For we believe that if 
anyone, very skillful in the chemical art, has the most concen- 
trated phlogiston most carefully purified from foreign sub- 
stances, then he can precipitate and convert the lower metals 
into more precious metals. 

IS. Eisenschmidt in Disquisltione nova de ponderibus et mensuris, p. 174. 



148 



Dissertation on the Origin and Nature 
of Niter 

In a letter dated January 31, 1748, Euler wrote to Schumacher, the 
secretary o the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, telling of a 
prize which the Berlin Academy of Sciences was offering for the 
year 1749 on the subject of the origin and composition of niter. 
He suggested that Lomonosov offer an essay on this subject. Lomono- 
sov accepted the suggestion, though it was not until January 1749 
that he actually began to write. His essay was completed in March 
and was received by the Berlin Academy on March 29, 1749. Lo- 
monosov did not receive the prize, which was awarded to a certain 
Dr. Pietsch. His essay, written in Latin under the title "Dissertatio 
de generatione et natura nitri," remained in manuscript in the ar- 
chives of the Berlin and St. Petersburg academies until it was dis- 
covered and translated into Russian by B. N. Menshutkin in 1934. 
It is the most purely chemical of all Lomonosov's general writings 
and shows very well how he interpreted the results of analysis and 
studies of chemical reactions. The Latin and Russian texts appear 
in Collected Works, II (1951), pp. 219-319, and the Russian trans- 
lation is in Selected Works,, pp. 81-121. 



As much as the acquaintance 
with principles means for chem- 
istry, so much do the principles 
themselves mean for bodies. 



INTRODUCTION 

Among bodies which the chemist calls salts there are es- 
pecially many uses for niter, particularly the surprising action, 
resembling the lightning, which it produces in gunpowder. 
Therefore it is not astonishing that the spagyrists, studying 
nature, have devoted much work to the study of the principle 
o niter. They were prompted to this by the tendency to be- 
come acquainted with such a wonder; but accompanying their 
work the most beautiful effects and useful products pushed 



149 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

them on to farther work. Their attempts did not remain un- 
successful; at the present time the composition and method 
of origin of this body have been disclosed and Illuminated by 
many fine experiments and discoveries of the heroes of chemis- 
try, famous in this and previous centuries; and It would seem 
there Is nothing further to wish than that the results of their 
outstanding labors for explaining this be systematically de- 
veloped In a more orderly manner by applying the geometric 
method. This is especially so if the elasticity of niter burned 
In a mixture with charcoal, which empirical chemical writers 
usually do not touch upon, Is explained starting from the na- 
ture of niter Itself and from physical experiments. Although 
these seem difficult, since up to now no basis has been laid in 
general physics for explaining the origin and components of 
such a body and there has been little success In applying 
physical experiments to chemistry, nevertheless we consider 
It possible through scientific relations to express the greatest 
part of chemistry in terms of special positions recently taken 
In physics; we do not doubt that we can easily uncover the 
hidden nature of bodies If we combine physical truths with 
chemical ones. When all the chemical truths are consolidated 
by stricter methods and It becomes clear how much one truth 
can be explained or brought out from another, then chemistry 
itself will be a science, and finally it may be seen more clearly 
what different branches of other natural science will offer for 
Its explanation and how much It Itself will contribute to Its 
service. Then such a well worked out science will be carried 
on by the honorable members In the ranks of the physicists. 

We wish to give an example of this in this proposed work 
and for this purpose, first, we will develop from the chemical 
point of view the composition and generation of niter, and 
then use physical effects connected with its nature to explain 
Its elasticity. Hence there are three chapters: in the first we 
study the composition of niter; knowing this we already con- 
sider It not difficult to explain its generation, which makes up 
the subject of the second chapter. In the third chapter we will 
speak of the explosive force of niter. 

The chemical assumptions on which we will develop these 
themes are the following: 



150 



cue origin ana rNauire or iMtcr 
Assumption I 

Mixed bodies are composed of those constituents into which 
they are decomposed by analysis and from which they are 
formed by synthesis. 

The truth of this is fully evident from the idea of the whole 
and its parts and does not require any demonstration. We re- 
member only that in chemistry synthesis is often more reliable 
than analysis, and even it alone is sufficient to show the constit- 
uents. Analysis is not so dependable with respect to mixed 
bodies whose components are themselves mixed bodies: ac- 
cordingly with different media used to separate the constituents 
there may be noted different components. Thus, on dry distilla- 
tion of plants, we extract constituents which are far from those 
observed in their fermentation. However, in connection with 
synthesis, analysis gives much weight and is much used itself. 

Assumption II 

Between homogeneous principles and mixed bodies which 
contain in greatest amount the same principle, there exist some 
mutual interrelations by virtue of which they more willingly 
combine with each other than with heterogeneous bodies and, 
penetrating one another^ they mutually combine. This combi- 
nation differs from a simple cohesion, since by the latter only 
particles brought into contact are bound. Thus, watery bodies 
combine more avidly with watery ones, oily ones with oily, 
glassy ones with glassy, metallic ones with metals. On the other 
hand, heterogeneous bodies, though they cohere closely enough 
with each other (as can be seen from large enough drops of 
water adhering to a sloping board rubbed with oil), yet all 
their particles tend to mutual interpenetration with difficulty 
and can hardly combine. We consider it appropriate here to 
describe briefly how we present this, since we apply these 
hypothetical principles for a deep explanation of several ques- 
tions. Everyone knows that particles of bodies cohere with 
each other on mutual contact. From the findings of Boyle it is 
evident that all particles have internal motion; we have shown 
in a separate dissertation, approved by famous men and soon 
to be published, that some of the particles have a progressive 
motion, all have rotational. Now [Fig. 1 was not contained in 



151 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

the manuscript] let particle C adhere by contact to the surface 
AB of some body. Let it move about its axis by rotary motion 
from a to b; then, if between the surfaces at the point of con- 
tact B there Is no friction, particle C will rotate at the point 
of contact B of surface AB and will not move forward to J5. On 
the contrary, if at the point of contact of the plane there is 
friction, then under the influence of the internal force of mo- 
tion impelling the particle to rotate and the cohesion which 
constantly maintains it, particle C will move on the surface AB 
in the direction of B and will penetrate into the first when the 
pores are large enough. For this reason also the particles of 
bodies mutually rubbing each other move relative to each other 
and shift their positions until a greater force of cohesion makes 
internal motion impossible. On the contrary, if there is no 
friction between the particles or there is only a very slight one, 
then such an effect entirely or almost entirely fails to occur. 
It is probable that the surfaces of homogeneous particles ap- 
proach each other more than do heterogeneous ones and there- 
fore their roughness from which, as we assume, friction arises 
combines them more with each other. Therefore, we assume, 
homogeneous particles are combined by the roughness, like 
gears, and in heterogeneous particles, due to the different sizes 
of the cogs, this does not occur (surfaces of homogeneous par- 
ticles in contact are shown in Fig. 2 and of heterogeneous ones 
in Fig. 3 [p. 160]). Then there is no difficulty for any reason 
that homogeneous particles bound by linkages and having in- 
ternal rotary motion would move around each other, and 
heterogeneous ones would not. According to this hypothesis we 
will call the mutual correspondence of homogeneous particles 
congruence, and we are persuaded by experiment that it can 
be used to explain chemical and other natural phenomena. 

Just such action of particles can be the reason for the 
tendency of entrance of fluids into pores, the rise of bodies at 
the side of other bodies, as for example, the rise of mercury 
above its surface on the side wall of a silver cylinder and the 
spontaneous distribution of dry salt of tartar on the walls of a 
glass vessel up to its cover, and many other similar effects 
which can be ascribed to reasons of this sort. In order to study 
these more deeply and to show them more obviously, we would 
have to have a full treatise on chemical principles so that as a 



152 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

result more closely related reciprocal facts would enlighten 
more fully. Since, however, the present theme neither requires 
this nor permits it, we will leave our stated hypothesis as a 
hypothesis, satisfied with the simplicity and probability. 

Assumption III 

// any body A, originally combined with body B, being sep- 
arated from it; is shown to have the form and all the properties 
which it would have when mixed with body D, then body D is 
actually mixed with A and is received from body B: for exam- 
ple, when water in which gunpowder was soaked and diluted 
is passed through a filter, a liquid is obtained which is nothing 
else than a solution of niter, and so without hesitation we draw 
the conclusion: the niter now found in the water was before 
this mixed in the powder. This assumption can well enough 
be called incongruency. 

All these three assumptions are not only sufficient for our 
purpose, but they can also easily be used for showing chemical 
truths which are confirmed below by examples. We add that 
we deliberately do not give definitions of substances and opera- 
tions since we do not wish to trouble with statements of those 
things which are well known to everyone. 



CHAPTER 1. ON THE CONSTITUENTS AND 
PRINCIPLES WHICH FORM NITER 

1 

There is no doubt that niter consists of fixed alkali salt and 
acid spirit. Actually, chemical analysis produces both from it 
and shows them separately. On distillation, niter gives an 
abundant and very acid spirit, and if the distillation was car- 
ried out with oil of vitriol, the residue is nothing else than 
vitriolated tartar which is prepared from fixed alkali and oil 
of vitriol: clear evidence that the fixed alkali which along with 
oil of vitriol forms this neutral salt already exists in niter itself, 
since no one can assume its presence in the oil of vitriol (by 
assumption III). Then niter which explodes with charcoal, on 
losing its acid gives pure fixed alkali. The latter cannot be 
formed from the charcoal used in the operation since the 



153 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

amount of charcoal taken for fixing the niter, reduced to ash 
and washed with water, gives only a few grains of alkali salt. 



Chemical synthesis itself reliably strengthens the correctness 
of this* Thus, the alkaline part of niter, previously separated 
by explosion from the acid, on mixing with spirit of niter 
again combines with it, and on crystallization gives the purest 
niter with all its properties; and if, instead of the fixed alkali 
of niter we take the alkaline salt prepared from wood ashes, 
especially the more solid, and combine it with the spirit of 
niter we also form true niter. Finally, the presence of alkali 
salt is so important for the formation of niter that in the ab- 
sence of natural alkali Its acid spirit will take to itself the 
fixed salt in associated minerals, and combined with the alkali 
of sea salt or even the alkali of urine forms a type of niter, dif- 
ferent In form of crystal and in appearance, but not very dif- 
ferent in strength of explosion and other properties of true 
niter. 



Thus, by virtue of assumption I, the conclusion drawn in 
1 is fully true; therefore it Is very strange that even famous 
people 1 have considered this assumption doubtful and have 
accepted that the alkali on distillation of niter is rather gen- 
erated from the fire. Although after driving out the spirit from 
niter mixed with clay by fire they cannot find true alkali in the 
residue from distillation, yet they should not assume on this 
basis that there is no alkali in the composition of the niter. For 
we cannot deny everything that we do not see. This doubt 
evidently arises because the true course of the interaction be- 
tween clay and niter on the fire was not known. According to 
the Ideas of chemists which then prevailed, clay was mixed with 
niter to prevent its liquefaction which, as they thought, pre- 
vented the evolution of the spirit. But it is sufficiently known 
from glassmaking that fixed alkali salt used with earthy bodies 
gives a glass by removal of the volatile parts which were in the 

L Boerfaaave, Elementa chymiae, Vol. 2, part 3, expt. 134; Lemery, Cours de 
chemie* p. 456. 



154 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

mixed body; therefore evidently we can conclude that with 
this very strong fire which is used for driving off the spirit of 
niter from the clay, the alkali of the niter attacks the earthy 
material of the clay and, losing the volatile spirit, combines 
with it more strongly; thus also the spirit is separated from the 
alkali and therefore the alkali itself either scarcely can or can- 
not at all be washed out from the clay by water. Confirming all 
this is the differing ease of driving off the spirit of niter; from 
a mixture of niter and oil of vitriol it is driven out by a light 
fire, but from a mixture of niter with clay, by the strongest 
fire; that is, the alkali of niter is more avidly combined with 
oil of vitriol than with the earth of the clay. 

4 

In order to learn in turn the nature of the constituent parts 
of niter, it is necessary to study the general properties of both 
the acid spirit and the fixed alkali salt. Thus we must find 
whether this alkali of niter differs from other forms of fixed 
alkali salt, and its acid spirit from other spirits of the same 
type. We begin with the acid spirit which is the more simple 
and thus more general than fixed alkali. 



The chief acid spirits which are usually produced by mineral 
and plant bodies are these: spirit of sulfur, spirit and oil of 
vitriol, spirits of alum, niter, common salt, vinegar. Each of 
these contains water even if we consider the most rectified 
spirit; they all, combining with the dryest alkali salts form on 
distillation tasteless phlegm. Then all in general are similar in 
corroding ability and acid taste, but differ in their strength 
and other properties. It is certain that the corroding power 
and acidity are produced in individual types of spirit from one 
and the same principle. Hence, with other conditions equal, 
each separately should have the same strength. Since, however, 
this is not a fact, then a sufficient cause lies beyond this prin- 
ciple; the latter blunts the strength of the acid when it is 
mixed in different amounts with the acid principle. Hence fol- 
lows the conclusion: the greater the blunting of the corroding 
strength and acidity, the greater is the amount of the other 
principle in the acid spirit; and on the contrary the stronger 



155 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

the corroding strength and acidity, the more of their own prin- 
ciple is present in the acid spirits. This truth is also widely 
confirmed by experiments. Thus, even the strongest acids, 
sweetened by spirit of wine, are usually very much weakened. 
Although water also weakens acids, yet differences between 
them cannot arise from different amounts of water, which is 
evidently confirmed by this fact, that acids, even diluted with 
water, retain their own qualities. 

6 

Although the different strengths of acid spirits are also clearly 
seen in solution of metals, yet since there is no single acid 
spirit which can dissolve all metals, by reason of the different 
congruency of metals (by assumption II) with the foreign con- 
stituent part of the spirits, then we cannot draw on this basis 
a reliable conclusion about the degree of their acidity and 
corrosive strength. Therefore here we must use a more gen- 
eral criterion. With no other body do acid spirits combine 
more strongly and avidly than with fixed alkali salt. They tend 
to take it up, pushing out other metals and minerals which they 
had previously dissolved and kept in their network. This is 
done with different forces and tendencies, due to the different 
strengths of the acids, which act very differently in them, since 
the more powerful spirits acting on alkali salt drive from it 
other weaker spirits. Thus, vinegar yields place to spirit of 
sea salt, the latter is driven out by spirit of niter which in its 
turn is forced out by spirit of vitriol or, what is the same 
thing, of sulfur or alum (which do not reciprocally replace 
each other). Hence it is evident that spirit of vitriol (and the 
related spirits of sulfur and alum) are the strongest of all; the 
remaining ones, those of niter., salt,, and vinegar are weaker and 
successively the latter are combined with the other principle; 
the first consists of pure acid principle when present in the 
purest state, or in any case, contains less quantity of admixed 
side principles. 



We find good confirmation of this in the different specific 
gravities of the spirits. That pure acid material, the chief con- 
stituent part of the acid spirits, has considerable density is evi- 



156 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

dent from the following considerations. Sulfur certainly con- 
sists of vitriolic acid with a small amount of phlogiston 
combined with water. That phlogiston is specifically lighter 
than water is indicated by the floating on water of ethereal oils 
and rectified spirit of wine. Since sulfur itself is twice as heavy 
as water, it follows directly from the laws of hydrostatics that 
the specific gravity of vitriolic or sulfur acid should consider- 
ably exceed the specific gravity of water and that, hence, acid 
spirits are specifically heavier, the more acid principle they 
contain. Vitriolic acid and its relatives after most careful rec- 
tification and purification exceed the rest of the acids in their 
specific gravity, as shown by the hydrometer, and the greater 
difficulty of converting them to a vapor on distillation. There- 
fore there remains no doubt of this, which confirms 6 as en- 
tirely true. On this basis the most famous chemists take vitriolic 
acid for the universal acid and consider it the simplest of alL 
Comparing spirit of niter with it, we will try to define the 
specific differences. This is not the place to study another type 
of acid, since we speak only of niter. 

OO 

Moreover, as we assumed in 6 and 7, the greater strength of 
vitriolic acid as compared to spirit of niter is shown in its 
precipitation of metals and in the fixing of mercury: it is fully 
evident that spirit of niter has in its composition some lighter 
material or more volatile principle. What the nature of this 
is must be established from the properties of the acid. The 
chief distinction in its properties is that the neutral salts formed 
by this acid and some alkali, when ground with charcoal ex- 
plode with a huge flame and immediately burn up. Since this 
is not done by any other acid combined with an alkali salt and 
charcoal, then evidently spirit of niter, besides the universal 
acid and water, must have still another principle which is most 
inclined to the generation of a flame; which also combines 
with acid and water, which resists flame, and which, overcom- 
ing it and carrying it away from itself, explodes with a flame; 
there is no doubt that this purest inflammable principle is 
called phlogiston by many. We have already noted above that 
the phlogiston principle is lighter not only than acid but even 
than water (7). Therefore it is natural that it transmits to 



157 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

the heavy universal acid a greater volatility and along with 
this it lessens its strength: hence the spirit of niter consists of 
the universal acid (5) and the phlogiston principle, combined 
together and intermingled with a watery liquid. 



No little significance for confirming this truth is found in 
the congruency of spirit of niter with those bodies which in all 
probability have phlogiston in their composition. Thus, 
camphor rejects all other acid spirits, but combines with spirit 
of niter and goes over into a tarry substance. Ethereal oils 
combine very avidly with this spirit and give off a large amount 
of heat and even flame; though such action is found for some 
other acids, yet it is much less. For they act on these oils only 
by virtue of the acid spirit included in the latter, but spirit of 
niter attacks their phlogiston with its phlogiston, and their 
acid with its acid, which naturally should evoke a stronger mo- 
tion and more considerable heat. Spirit of niter dissolves all 
metals and semimetals except gold, the more energetically and 
the more strongly, the greater the amount of phlogiston in them 
and the more manifestly the latter shows itself in them. After 
its expulsion by calcining the metal, the calxes undergo the 
action of spirit of niter very little, while vitriolic acid, on the 
contrary, acts much more willingly on the calxes than on the 
whole metals, which gleam from their phlogiston. Finally, oil 
of vitriol, mixed with rectified spirit of wine, combines without 
effervescence and although heat is evolved, yet it is less in de- 
gree than on mixing it with water. 2 On the other hand, fuming 
spirit of niter with water produces less heat than oil of vitriol, 
but with rectified spirit of wine produces a huge and appalling 
effervescence with heating to 180 and even more 3 and if to 
one dram of spirit of niter we add one dram of alcohol, a 
hotter effervescence occurs, after which nothing remains, but 
everything evaporates into air. 4 

2. The illustrious Pott in Exerdtatione de acido vitriolo vinoso and the 
illustrious Muschenbroek in Addit. ad exp. Acad. del dm., par. 2. 

8. Muschenbroek, ibid. 

4. Hoffmann, Obsewationum f p. 40. 



158 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 
10 

Besides the acid principle, phlogiston, and the watery liquid 
with which the first two intermingle, we cannot admit that any 
other principle is in spirit of niter, and therefore we are limited 
to establishing these three component parts. There is also no 
necessity to discuss the specific properties of these liquids, since 
the theme under discussion requires consideration only of those 
properties which can explain the genesis of niter. Finally, it 
would be very interesting and useful to know in what ratio by 
weight or by volume are the component parts of this perfectly 
pure spirit; but from the experiments made up to now this 
cannot be determined exactly. It is evident only that the acid 
principle occurs in much greater amount than phlogiston, since: 

1) the taste of the liquid is very acid; 2) it itself is not susceptible 
to flame; 3) it is heavier than water in specific gravity, and this 
would be lowered if phlogiston were more abundant; but even 
their approximate ratios cannot be shown. The relative amount 
of water was studied by the ingenious Homberg; 5 he added one 
ounce of spirit of niter to the driest alkali and from this mix- 
ture drove off the water into the air by a strong fire, leaving the 
acid principle; he found a loss in weight of 5 drams and 49 
grains. Therefore water by weight is related to the other con- 
stituent parts of the spirit by about 8 to 3. 

11 

Fixed alkali salt has earth in its composition. For: 1) after 
long digestion it yields an earth, tasteless, insoluble in water; 

2) it is formed on combination from bodies rich in earthy 
substances, so that the more solid and firm are the parts of 
plants, the coarser is the ash remaining after combustion and 
the stronger and more fixed is the alkali salt obtained. On the 
contrary, volatile mixed substances lacking in earth principle 
give no ash and alkali. These facts, by virtue of assumption I, 
confirm the statement. It is true that very solid bone and other 
parts of animals, like rotted plants, do not form such alkali 
salts, but this is not in the least to the detriment of the truth 
expressed above, since for the constituents of these bodies, be- 

5. Mem. roy. Acad. Sd. f 1669, p. 52. 



159 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 




Figs. 2-10 

sides earth is required still another principle (see below, 13), 
which, if it is absent from the mixed body in combustion or 
encounters an obstacle to combination with the earth on burn- 



160 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

ing, cannot form alkali with the earth and remains a mere 
earth, as appears in the ash of bones. 

12 

In order to confirm these phenomena, we should first of all 
mention the congruence of fixed alkali salts with earthy bodies. 
For fixed alkali salt enters into such close bonds with them 
that there is formed a transparent and very stable body, not 
decomposed by any known strength of fire. This is daily found 
in glassmaking. This combination of the substance mentioned 
with sand is marked by rare phenomena. Thus, if such a mix- 
ture of sand with fixed alkali salt is heated in a pot on a great 
fire to melting, the liquid suddenly starts to boil, gives a foam, 
and moves just as occurs on combination of an acid with an 
alkali; from it comes a thick smoke and a heavy odor of acid. 6 
We consider it very probable that this acid smoke is the part 
of the volatile principle which enters into the composition of 
the alkali salt which the earth loses in combining more closely 
with sand (cf. 3) and hence we come to the conclusion that 
in fixed alkali salt there is an acid principle combined with an 
earthy one; but since we could assume that acid volatilization 
takes place not from the alkali, but from the sand, we must 
have more reliable data and concurrence with the effects dis- 
cussed, which will remove all doubts. 

13 

To obtain the alkali salt by ashing, we select plants rich in 
acid material, the so-called essential salts; the more of these, 
the more alkali is washed from the ashes. Therefore the plants 
from which the essential salts are extracted give less alkali 
than if they are not extracted. 7 Further, if the plant does not 
burn cleanly, but smokes and is slowly consumed by a smolder- 
ing fire, then much acid volatilizes from the plant and the ash 
lacks a considerable amount of the alkali salt. 8 Then if the 
plant, containing volatile acid, is dried before burning, it gives 
less alkali salt than the undried. 9 Finally, tartar, the most acid 

6. Stahl, De salibus, ch. 8. 

7. Neumann, De alcali fixo. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Ibid. 



161 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

of all the essential salts, after distillation leaves a very black 
residue; the ash obtained from burning this residue on an open 
fire gives a large amount of especially caustic fixed alkali salt 
so that a very considerable part of the tartar passes into it; If, 
indeed, we add the acidified water, the spirit and oil which were 
previously removed by distillation to the remaining alkaline 
mass and then again distill as before, then almost no acid at 
all distills out and little oil, and almost the whole mass of tartar 
is converted to alkali. 10 From all this it Is perfectly evident, 
1) that for the formation of fixed alkali salt,, acid is certainly re- 
quired (by assumption I); 2) that essential salts of plants are 
more strongly bound with earth by strong fire (11) and pass 
into the composition of alkalis. 

14 

That the acid principle occurs in the composition of animal 
material is shown by the souring of milk and the discussion of 
the illustrious Lemery, 11 but this principle hardly yields to 
isolation and it cannot be coagulated in the form of an actual 
salt, either because it occurs in small amount, or (which is 
more likely) because it is hidden in combination with other 
principles and thus cannot enter into contact with earths nor 
is strongly bound to them at the time of combustion. Decaying 
of plants is always preceded by fermentation, which disperses 
the greater part of the acid. Therefore parts of animals and 
decaying plants after combustion and washing out the ashes 
do not give fixed alkali, and for us this is a very important 
reason against the contrary argument. No little weight is given 
by the above mentioned proposition of violent effervescence 
and heating of the acid spirits with alkaline salts; we men- 
tioned before how their hatred and struggle, and now, more 
correctly, how liking and avid tendency to mutual compre- 
hension, beyond doubt show the congruency of the constituent 
parts (assumption II). 

15 
Concerning the joining of these constituent parts in the body 

10. Boerhaave, Elementa chymiae, vol. 2, part 1, expt. 55. 

11. Mem. Acad. 1720, p, 266 ff. 



162 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

of fixed alkali salt, we think no one has doubted. However, 
among very prominent scholars the question has still arisen 
of the presence of the third constituent part, the principle of 
phlogiston. Indeed the most famous authors, Stahl and Neu- 
mann, assert that It Is present in fixed alkali salt; on the other 
hand, others deny this, especially the illustrious Bourdelln 12 
from his own studies. The first opinion depends on experi- 
ments and conclusions directly from them; the second on 
deeper discussion, reinforced by experiments. Confirmatory 
opinion is substantiated by the fact that to obtain alkali, oily 
substances are needed and their formation does not occur with- 
out some fatty material. 13 Therefore, removing combustible 
substances from vegetable bodies by spirit of wine, we obtain 
less potash from their ashes than without the preliminary ex- 
traction; 14 to which is joined the no less weighty argument, 
according to assumption II, that the purest and driest alkali 
is attracted by the most rectified spirit of wine; If both these 
substances, or either of them, contains any water, their mixing 
is difficult. 15 Therefore on mixing them the temperature rises 
from 49 to 54 degrees (Fahrenheit thermometer); but the heat 
Is scarcely perceived if instead of very dry alkali we take spirit 
of fused tartar. 16 Contrary to this, Bourdelln from the same facts 
by which the above authors confirmed their position, draws a 
contradictory conclusion on the basis of the following account. 

16 

He asserts that fixed alkali of plants comes from burning 
their essential or natural salt, on which the more fixed part 
of their acid salt in combination with earth forms alkali; the 
remaining more volatile part is either driven off by the fire 
so that pure alkali salt remains, or remains unaffected by fire 
and then the neutral salt, the nitrous, is washed out from the 
ashes, as Stahl himself indicates. In the first case, he says, the 
more subtle acid along with the more abundant oil produces 
a greater flame; in the second, with an insufficiency of fatty 

12. Mem. roy. Acad. Sd., 1728. 

13. Stahl, Zjmot.y ch. 12; Neumann, de AlcalL 

14. Ibid.; ibid, 

15. Boerhaave, Elem. Chym., vol. 1, part 2, "de alcali et menstr." 

16. Addit. ad exp. A. del dm., part 2, p. 153, 



163 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

substance, occurring either because of using a drier plant such 
as tamarisk or because the fatty principle had been extracted 
by spirit of wine, the acid is combined with the alkali formed 
in the combustion and gives a neutral salt. Since, therefore, by 
the absence of the fatty principle or after its extraction from 
the plant there is formed an alkali salt, but it is hidden in the 
form of a neutral salt due to combination with acid, therefore 
he concludes that the presence of the inflammable principle is 
not a necessary condition for the formation of alkali, and there- 
fore he considers that the experiments of Stahl and Neumann 
in themselves cannot confirm their hypothesis. From the ex- 
periment of Lemery, who by adding oil drove off vitriolic acid, 
which remained in the colcothar after distillation, he showed 
that acid which binds the fatty substance was driven off by 
the fire and scattered in the air. 

17 

On attentive consideration of these contradictory opinions, 
based on both sides on sufficiently weighty evidence, we find 
that both are partly true, partly do not correspond to actual- 
ity. Therefore we, aiming for the truth, will reconcile both of 
them; and first of all, along with Stahl and Neumann, we accept 
the fact that alkali salts have in their composition the princi- 
ple of phlogiston, but in different proportions to the other 
constituent parts. Second, we assert with Bourdelin that fixed 
alkali salt is formed from burning plants not in proportion 
to the fatty material which enters their composition^ but that 
by its agency the alkali is liberated from the more volatile 
acids of plants and remains free. In order to show what fol- 
lows, it is necessary to describe the different nature of the 
alkaline salts of which the chief are salt of tartar and the al- 
kali salt of plants. 

18 

Tartar is formed from the juice of grapes, rich in spirit, after 
completion of their fermentation. Phlogiston is found remain- 
ing in the tartar after very strong fermentation; and since it 
is especially volatile in its nature, it is certain that it has es- 
caped the force of such great motion by being strongly bound 
to the acid of tartar or with the earthy substance of tartar. 



164 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

Hence it follows that this phlogiston can more strongly resist 
the action of fire and more easily combine with earthy and acid 
principles in fixed alkali salt than if no preliminary fermenta- 
tion had occurred. The fact is different with plants simply 
burned. Their juice is much poorer in amount of spirit than 
that of grapes; under the influence of the flame it is scattered, 
setting in motion the more volatile phlogiston (so called wild), 
and there breaks forth with it even that which could resist 
fermentation and flame* Therefore it is clear that in the ash 
of plants much less phlogiston can remain than in the dry 
residue of tartar. Since tartar salt is coagulated with fats into 
soap, and most rectified spirit of wine is easily combined with 
this salt if it is perfectly dry, and there is even extracted from 
it a golden tincture such as is usually extracted in greater 
amount from fats, but this is not extracted from salts nor from 
bodies lacking phlogiston, then on the basis of assumptions 
II and III it follows that tartar salt includes in its composition 
the principle of phlogiston. On the other hand, although al- 
kaline salts of plants also give soap with fats, and thus the 
presence of phlogiston is shown, yet they hardly combine or 
do not combine at all with the most rectified spirit of wine 
and do not give any colored fatty tincture. All this, in con- 
nection with what was said at the beginning of this paragraph, 
clearly shows that the phlogiston principle is found in tartar 
and in alkaline salts of plants and more in the first than in the 
second. 

19 

Plants which before burning are dried, ground up, and 
treated with spirit of wine until they stop coloring it, then 
burned to ash, give little or no pure fixed alkali salt when 
leached, but do give neutral salt. Since this neutral salt consists 
of acid and alkali, we conclude that 1) extraction of resinous 
substance does not hinder formation of fixed alkali salt so that 
this fat contributes nothing to the formation of alkali; 2) since 
in this case, if the resin existing in the plant is not removed 
from it by any extraction, and after burning there remains pure 
alkali salt without acid, then it is evident that this acid adher- 
ing to the resinous substance is scattered from the heat. There- 
fore the conclusion of Bourdelin is correct. But it does not 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

follow from this that there is no phlogiston in the composition 
of the alkali salt, the more so that it is extracted by spirit of 
wine, but only the more volatile phlogiston leaves the more 
fixed, which after extraction arouses flame in the plant and can 
also enter into the composition of the remaining alkaline ash. 

20 

Besides this the alkaline salts, especially of plants, differ in 
the quantity and quality of earthy substances: those which are 
leached from the more delicate parts of plants are more subtle 
and more delicate; and on the other hand, those leached from 
the thicker stems are stronger and coarser. The quantitative 
interrelations of these constituents of alkali salts (not more 
than three of them have been found) still cannot be deter- 
mined; there are no experiments from which we could draw 
any conclusions unless that phlogiston, as very subtle, is least 
of all in the alkali and in acid is very abundant, as can be 
judged from the preparation of salt of tartar from the pure 
acid. All these principles are modified by watery moisture de- 
pending on its amount, as is very well known. 

21 

This is all we consider it necessary to say in general about 
alkalis, but most of what was said, almost all, should refer to 
the alkali of niter. We will say a few words about the remain- 
der which is specific for niter; thus, 1) since for the prepara- 
tion of niter we use the ashes of plants, as shown below, then 
it is certain that the potash of ashes constitutes in great part 
the alkaline salt of niter; 2) since to the alkali from which niter 
is extracted we add unslaked lime in addition to the ashes, it 
is very probable that some earth of an alkaline nature enters 
into its composition. This is confirmed by the following: 1) 
niter dissolved in water and long digested evolves earth; 17 2) 
niter regenerated from its spirit and fixed alkali of plants is 
softer and more caustic, since its alkali on boiling in a tin 
vessel attacks it, but if its alkali is passed through unslaked 
lime it becomes more inert and loses its corrosive ability. 18 

17. Boerfaaave, Elem. chym*, vol. 1, part 2, "de terra." 

18. Stahl, de nitro, ch. 2 and 3. 



166 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

But we will speak of this below ( ). 19 Here, however, we 
remember that it is unreal to infer the properties of the alkali 
of niter from the properties of fixed niter, since the alkali in 
this is contaminated by the acid spirit remaining in it, which 
obviously departs when oil of vitriol is added. There is also a 
difference with respect to inflammability induced by combus- 
tion of niter: with inflammable fluids it becomes less caustic 
than on detonation with dry bodies, and it becomes especially 
caustic with metals. 20 This does not contradict the above state- 
ment (1) since besides this the alkaline nature of fixed niter 
is well enough known. 

22 

We consider what has been said about the composition of 
niter to be sufficient to discuss its generation. From the pre- 
ceding we have shown that niter is a doubly mixed body, that 
is, first of all it consists of acid spirit and fixed alkali salt; 
the latter is composed of acid principle more firmly bound to 
an earth and of a small amount of phlogiston and a calcareous 
earthy and all of this is more or less diluted with water. The 
acid spirit is made up of the same acid principle and phlogiston 
occurring in water. The illustrious Neumann gave a ratio of 
fully rectified spirit of niter to alkali and both to water: acid 
14, alkali i/ 4 , water i/. 21 The same theory was confirmed for 
the acid by KunckeL 22 

23 

Such is the internal nature of niter, not at all clear to the 
senses as a whole, but subject to disclosure by chemical means. 
This gives the number of constituents, their qualitative and 
often even quantitative ratios; but with its aid it is impossible 
to guess the place and order in which are arranged the cor- 
puscles of the constituents and the particles of the mixed body. 
This latter would be very valuable and useful for deeper study 
of mixed bodies if only it were complete and reliable. How- 
ever, since this cannot be discussed even by an expert, we will 

19. [No number given in text.] 

20. Neumann, de alcali fixo. 

21. Dissert, de alcali fixo. 

22. In Ldboratorio chymico, part 2, di. 6. 



167 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

attempt to guess about this, as far as possible, on the basis of 
the qualities of the constituents themselves and on the basis 
of the external form of niter. Since here the discussion cannot 
operate on a sufficiently firm basis, we will carry it on more 
hypothetically. 

24 

Corresponding to the very fixed and inactive properties of 
earths and the rapid penetrating nature of the acid principle, 
the latter should consist of much finer particles than the first. 
Since acid makes up the greatest part of the alkaline salt (20), 
it is very probable that one particle of earth is surrounded by 
several particles of acid principle adhering closely to it, and 
some particles of phlogiston are interspersed between them, and 
water surrounds on all sides, as shown in Fig. 4. When the acid 
spirit is mixed with the alkali salt, its particle C [Fig. 5] first 
of all touches particles of B which adhere to the earthy mole- 
cule A of the alkali and turn toward it around B (by the hy- 
pothesis of the introduction, assumption II); it then enters the 
small space D between B and E and displaces the air stored 
there. This air, driven out from several pores, collects in bub- 
bles and expands in a foam, and the particles of this are heated 
by collision and friction. The particles of acid C, if it is pure 
and does not contain another principle, join more with the 
acid particles B and penetrate the space D more strongly and 
deeply. On the other hand, if it is combined with phlogiston 
or other principle bound to it, then it cannot so easily enter 
and settle so firmly there. Therefore spirit of niter, due to the 
interference of the phlogiston, adheres less strongly to its alkali 
and thus must be driven off by purer universal acid. Further, 
since the particles of the acid spirit, homogeneous among them- 
selves, occur among the particles of alkali salt, forming along 
with the latter corpuscles of neutral salt [Fig. 6], then the acid- 
ity is lessened in the spirit and the acidity is modified; in the 
alkali salt the roughness is smoothed over, the causticity is low- 
ered, and there is formed a neutral salt of a more delicate na- 
ture, so that the very penetrating spirit of niter and the alkali 
are combined in a body with not so sharp a taste. 

25 
If we assume that a thus composed particle of niter has a 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

spherical form and that in great part the smallest parts of the 
body tend to collect into a cluster, we can very easily explain 
why niter grows in a hexahedral crystal. Although all this is 
based on one hypothesis, yet it answers exceedingly well the 
nature of the constituent parts of niter and therefore gains 
some weight. Actually, let six corpuscles be arranged around 
each other in such a way that the straight lines joining their 
centers form an equilateral triangle [Fig. 7]; as a result we 
obtain a figure bounded by six lines like the cross section of 
a prism of niter. The particles of niter thus arranged in almost 
infinite number form the crystalline prism of niter, true, often 
with unequal sides which, however, are always parallel and 
correspond to the assumed arrangement as shown in Figs. 8, 9, 
and 10. However, the guess which we have assumed is con- 
firmed in three ways: 1) this process explains the form of the 
particles, which is not suggested by anything which the crystals 
of niter have in themselves, and the question does not then 
remain unanswered, as is often the case; 2) the angles of the 
niter crystals correspond to the assumed arrangement of par- 
ticles, since usually each of them is 120; 3) on the basis of 
our hypothesis we can easily explain other sorts of crystals, for 
example, the cubic crystals of common salt can be explained 
by assuming such an arrangement of salt particles that the lines 
passing through their centers make a square. 



CHAPTER 2. ON THE GENESIS OF NITER 
AND ITS PRODUCTION 

26 

In describing the production of niter we have arranged all 
the material as far as possible in such a way that we first dis- 
cuss in detail methods of producing niter in Europe; then we 
explain the composition of niter itself and the character of the 
substances serving for its preparation and how they contribute 
to the formation of its constituent parts. Finally, we support 
our explanation by suggesting processes for rapid production 
of niter. 

27 
As experiment has taught, the dung of animals, especially 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

horse manure which has lain long in a shady place, is whitened 
as if covered by frost, and equally so are walls made of clay and 
straw and covered with lime, which also whiten as if from hoar 
frost (the whitening occurs more rapidly by drenching with 
the urine of animals); as a result of known procedures this 
shows the presence of niter. Therefore the producers of niter 
carefully collect these materials for their needs and when they 
have noted that fresh bodies of this sort do not contain niter, 23 
they begin to use those which have been aided by putrefaction. 
They collect not only the easily rotting parts of animal and 
kitchen wastes, but also plants which are undergoing rotting. 
From the walls of wooden huts constructed of clay and straw 
they take off a layer of a finger's breadth, which is granted to 
certain persons as a privilege of the state. 24 Then they collect 
the discarded soap boiler's ashes and earth from a cemetery. 
Moreover they avoid those substances which have lain long in 
the open sun. Also, from plant materials they mix fresh and 
fallen leaves from willow, fresh and delicate shoots of spruce 
and leaves of other fragrant woods, squash leaves, herbs con- 
taining stinging acid sap, straw of beans and peas, and finally, 
any plant thrown out of gardens and from fields as useless, for 
the construction of the very valuable niter piles. Sometimes 
they add sediment and wastes from brewery production, and 
also those obtained from distilling spirit of wine from grain. 

28 

These parts of animals and plants are mixed with muddy 
earth and set out in the open air in long piles like embank- 
ments, parallel with each other, so that one pile protects an- 
other from the rays of the burning summer sun; therefore they 
are usually laid out in a line from east to west. Also they are 
enclosed with walls extended to a height of two sazhens and 
made of the same niter material; thus a shadow for the piles is 
attained, and in order that it be still larger, at the southern 
edge and also between the embankments are placed shading 
trees, which by the falling of their leaves also contribute to the 
piles. Further, since too abundant rain water would harm the 

25. Hist. Ac. Roy. Set., 1717, p. 50. 
24. Stahl, De nitro, ch. Z 



170 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

delicate niter which is forming, canals are placed around the 
piles; sometimes the piles are even covered with a straw roof, 
leaving free access of air at the sides. The piles thus prepared, 
kept from the action of bad weather, are repeatedly wet with 
decomposing urine or rotting pieces of kitchen waste. 

29 

When the piles are enriched with niter, which is recognized 
by the whitening of the material adhering to their sides like 
wool or frost, the nitrous earth is taken and slowly dried in a 
shady place if there is moisture in it; then it is prepared for 
extraction thus. In a vessel with a double bottom in which the 
upper movable bottom, containing numerous openings, is sep- 
arated from the lower by two or three fingers' breadth and 
covered with four inches of straw, is placed a layer of niter- 
bearing earth four fingers thick, and above this the same thick- 
ness of a layer of ashes obtained by burning hardwood powder 
mixed with unslaked lime. Then a layer of niter-bearing earth 
of the same thickness is put in, above it a layer of the same ash 
with unslaked lime, and so further, layer is piled upon layer 
until the vessel is almost entirely full. The number of such 
vessels corresponds to the quantity o nitrous earth. On top of 
everything hot water is poured, so that it covers all the material 
by two or three fingers' breadth. The whole is allowed to stand 
quietly overnight and on the next morning the opening in the 
lower bottom is unstoppered and the alkali is drained into an- 
other vessel underneath. The liquid at first runs cloudy; it is 
again poured over the niter-bearing material until it passes 
through more clearly. When the upper vessel is free from water, 
pure water is again poured into it and there is obtained 
through the draining outlet an alkali much weaker than the 
preceding. Both alkali solutions are then poured into another 
vessel with niter material and the drainage from the outlets of 
the vessel until the solution is sufficiently saturated with niter. 

30 

Ash and quicklime are added with the niter-bearing material 
because the latter alone on washing out its alkali does not give 
true fixed niter; saturated with alkali it can scarcely be evap- 
orated enough to give crystals, which moreover are very deli- 



171 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

cate and fragile; on evaporating most of the water, they are 
volatilized and scattered into the air. These fine crystals ob- 
tained thus are much weaker in explosive force than true 
fixed niter; they much resemble the ammonium salt which is 
prepared from volatile salt of urine and spirit of niter. On the 
other hand, alkali passed through ashes and lime is enriched 
by the most fixed alkali, very strong and having great elastic- 
ity. 25 

31 

When the nitrous alkali is judged by examination to be 
ready for evaporation, it is poured into a copper pot, higher 
than it is wide and narrowing toward the bottom as a trun- 
cated cone. In it is placed a wooden bucket, filled with rocks, 
of approximately the same shape as the pot, but of much less 
size, so that between its walls and the pot there is space enough; 
its bottom is separated from the bottom of the pot by two or 
three fingers' breadth and its lip should lie at a considerable 
depth below the surface of the alkali. At one side of the pot, 
over the edge, is placed a tub filled with alkali and with an 
opening directed into the pot and open in such a way that as 
much alkali flows into the pot as goes out in the form of vapor 
on heating. During heating the earthy material is separated 
from the alkali and is collected in the bucket; without this it 
would be precipitated on the bottom and walls of the pot and 
would cause expense in money and work, as is evident from 
the book of Ercker 26 on the preparation of niter, when he still 
did not know how to use the bucket. This phenomenon results 
from different heating of the alkali found at different distances 
from the fire. Thus, in the space AAA (Fig. II) between the 
walls of the pot and the bucket the alkali is heated more than 
in the bucket itself and therefore stronger motion takes place. 
Therefore the earthy substance mentioned, separating from the 
alkali and gradually making it cloudy, rises in the bucket to 
EE, goes toward D, and rapidly is precipitated in C because 
of the greater quietness of the liquid; the remaining alkali in 
part A is in strong motion so that it cannot settle before it has 

25. Stahl, De nitro, ch. 1. 

26. Aula subterranea f Bk. 5. 



172 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 




Fig. 11 

collected in more considerable amount. After this time, the 
alkali, stirred up by the great heat, enters the bucket and mixes 
with the clear alkali and is quieted and precipitated; thus by 
continuous motion the earthy substance almost entirely pre- 
cipitates in the bucket. 

32 

The alkali, concentrated to a sufficient degree of saturation, 
is poured from the pot into tubs and stands in a cold place for 
crystallization. When the liquid is cooled, solid, transparent 
hexagonal crystals grow in it. The residual alkali on further 
concentration gives in great amount finer, more brittle crystals 
with less explosive power and often contaminated with com- 
mon salt. After the end of the evaporation and crystallization, 
there remains a yellow liquid which does not produce a crystal- 
line species; in German it is called Mutterlauge, mother of 
alkali, and the latter alkali is precipitated either by oil of tartar 
per deliquum, or also by vitriolic acid; it yields a white earth 



173 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

called magnesia by physicians. 27 The same alkali converted into 
a solid body by evaporation evolves a brown, choking vapor; 
after ignition on a stronger fire, there remains in the retort a 
residue of the so-called magnesia. 28 

33 

At the end of the extraction, the earth, deprived of niter, is 
mixed with fresh earth with addition of suitable plant material 
and also manure and decayed parts of animals, which are sprin- 
kled with the remaining mother liquor; everything is put into 
a pile and submitted as described above to the action of air, 
so that new niter will be formed. In the Paris Arsenal the niter 
piles are made of a mixture of earth already washed out and 
with fresh niter earth, layer on layer, and each layer is wet with 
the scum from the alkali of the first evaporation; and so that 
the earth may be reduced directly to niter, it is mixed with 
pigeon and horse manure and finally is wet with urine. 29 This 
discussion of the preparation of niter is sufficient for our pur- 
pose, and we now turn to an explanation of its genesis. 

34 

Niter-bearing earth prepared for extraction of the niter con- 
tains in itself volatile niter, otherwise called ammoniated niter 
salt y composed of true spirit of niter and volatile animal alkali. 
The truth of this Is perfectly evident from 30, since such 
volatile niter gives crystals with great difficulty, and very deli- 
cate and fluffy ones, and on evaporation is lost in great part, 
on heating Is scattered in the air; with charcoal it gives a less 
strong explosion than fixed niter. To this we add that distilling 
pure alkaline nitrous earth permits preparation of aqua regia 30 
which Is usually obtained from acid spirit of niter and alkaline 
salt of urine. 

35 

The volatile alkali needed for formation of volatile niter in 
niter-bearing earth comes from the rotting animal parts or 

27. Stahl, De salibus, ch. 15; and Ho&nan, ObservatL, p. 110. 

28. Ibid.; ibid. 

29. Memoires, 1717, p. 44. 
SO. Memoires, 1717, p. 49. 



174 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

excrement; there is nothing to be surprised at in this. For who 
would seek in the distance for what is given by things nearby? 
And who w T ould think of reaching that which is absent by re- 
jecting that which is present? The more so that without rotting 
of animal excrement or parts there is no generation of niter in 
piles built up for this purpose, and for producing and hasten- 
ing their rotting and for separation of the volatile salt we pur- 
posely add ashes whose fixed alkali does this and more rapidly 
frees the volatile salt. 

36 

Plants have in their composition acid of niter. All plants, 
especially becabunga, wall pelletory, soap plant, artemesia, com- 
mon wormwood, herbs purified and softened by preliminary 
extraction with spirit of wine of their resins by boiling or slow 
carbonization, show the presence of true niter 31 and hence pro- 
duce the acid spirit from which niter is formed with alkali. 
This spirit often shows itself by other clear signs. What, pray, 
is this other fatal fume of charcoal, very similar in its terrible 
odor to aqua fortis; is it not an acid, very similar to that of 
niter, driven out by the strong fire? 

37 

Spirit of niter is driven out from plants by fermentation and 
is volatilized into air if it is not caught. It is well known to all 
that plants in fermentation are changed and even destroyed. 
Here the changes found are that 1) an acid and an inflammable 
spiritous substance are evolved; 2) a precipitate is obtained 
which consists of a coarser earthy material and a remaining 
small amount of acid and inflammable spirit; 3) two sorts of 
acid are obtained: one which in fermentation volatilizes in 
great part into the air and another which at the end of fer- 
mentation remains and on later digestion passes into vinegar. 
The first, much stronger, on inhalation through the nose affects 
the nerves, dissolves some metals, and passes out into the air 
and rarefies; but the second does not act even on metals 
plunged into it. The presence of acid of niter which was in 
the fermenting plants cannot be assumed in the wastes, and 

3L Stahl, Elem, chym. f p. 62. 8. 



175 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

therefore it must be sought in one of the acids mentioned. That 
acid which is diffused on motion transmitted to the substance 
by fermentation, on the basis of the preceding, comes nearer 
in nature to acid of niter than to vinegar. It acts in the same 
way on the sense of smell as spirit of niter and sweetens spirit 
of wine; this is not found in vinegar. Since, however, spirit of 
wine is also evolved with this acid spirit, it is evident that the 
spirit of niter formed in plants leaves them in fermentation 
combined with the spirit of wine and, if there is no medium 
ready which is capable of binding it, it volatilizes into the air 
along with the spirit of wine. 

38 

Plants used for the formation of niter-bearing piles (27) 
mixed with animal substances are destroyed. But this cannot 
take place unless they are first fermented, which, being a slow 
and often unnoted process, yet cannot be ended until every- 
thing has happened which was remarked in the previous para- 
graph. When the plant material is disintegrated by fermenta- 
tion, spirit of niter combined with spirit of wine tends to 
volatilize Into the air. But since it almost always meets the 
alkali salt volatilizing along with it, formed from the rotting 
animal substance (35), then it remains, caught by it. At the 
same time the phlogiston of wine, previously in combination 
with it, Is avidly combined (according to assumption II) with 
the animal fat not yet submitted to the action of alkali, and 
thus pure nitrous acid leaving It is more closely bound with 
the pure alkali liberated from the fat. And once this has oc- 
curred, It is necessary we assume this is perfectly obvious 
that the nitrous acid generated from the plants, added to the 
niter-bearing mass and separated from them by rotting is com- 
bined in the niter-bearing piles with urinous alkali into volatile 
niter. 

39 

Against this, as I hear, scholars object, using great author- 
ities and having great merit, 32 and assert that spirit of niter is 
formed from the air. We know that their opinion is known 

32. Stahl, Fund, chym., De nitro, 25, and Henkel, Pyritologia. 



176 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

to everyone who has studied chemistry, and is even accepted 
by many; therefore we consider it inadmissible to pass it by, 
the more so that it is not entirely untrue. That an aerial ele- 
ment, and this truly nitrous, could be the bearer of an acid 
spirit is evident from this, that 1) volcanoes, taking up sul- 
furous material, throw out large amounts of acid spirits, as 
underground caverns also emit them; 2) no little are they 
emitted by fragrant plants which have an acid sap in growing 
and fermenting. It is evident that from the first source comes 
vitriolic acid and from the second, spirit of niter. Therefore 
it is not surprising that often alkaline and earthy absorbent 
bodies, long exposed to the air, especially if they are saturated 
by vapors from nearby plants, take up spirit of niter so that 
the ashes exposed to the air in the spring season in a shady 
place for several weeks show the presence of some amount of 
niter 33 and, with spirit of salt driven off from old tiles, dis- 
solve gold. 34 

40 

But how far it is from the truth that a single aerial acid 
saturates the piles built for isolation of niter is evident even 
from the fact 1) that for constructing them a single alkali is 
not used; 2) that pure alkalis would more easily take the spirit 
of niter from the air than alkalis mixed with foreign bodies 
contradicts daily observation; 3) that Lemery, exposing to the 
open air in a place protected from the sun quicklime, salt of 
tartar, and carefully washed out niter-bearing earth for two 
years and even more, did not obtain even a trace of niter. 35 
Further, acid of niter from plants treated in a niter-bearing 
mass was found near volatile alkali generated in the same mass 
by rotting animal substances. Therefore there can be no reason 
why it would be taken from acid scattered in the atmosphere. 
But, you may ask, why is the niter-bearing material exposed in 
the open air? I answer, in order that the rotting of the animal 
substances and the fermentation of the plants will occur more 
easily. Without free access of air both processes are hindered. 

33. Stahl, Tractate de salibus. 

34. The same, in Fund. chym. 

35. Memoires de VAcad, 1717, pp. 39 and 43. 



177 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

41 

When fixed alkali is added to the ammonia salt, the acid 
spirit, leaving the volatile salt, combines with the fixed alkali, 
which is evident from the driving off of ammoniacal spirit. No 
chemist doubts that the same thing occurs with all neutral 
volatile salts, including also volatile niter. Hence it is clear that 
the alkali washed from niter-bearing earth is passed through 
ash just for this, so that the alkali of the latter on expulsion 
of the volatile alkali will take to itself the spirit of niter and 
be converted with it on extraction and crystallization into 
fixed, true niter. By this synthesis we have again confirmed 
that fixed alkali salt is certainly required for the formation of 
niter (3). It is true that the amount of ash taken for filtering 
the alkali can be shown not to correspond to the amount of 
niter obtained; it would probably require much more alkali 
salt for formation of niter than the water taken from the ash 
could give, but we cease to be astonished if we remember that 
the lye from the niter-bearing mass can extract more alkali 
from the ash than can water. 

42 

Ordinary salt is separated from the niter-bearing alkali by 
repeated extraction (32) though, as is known, it is not ex- 
tracted from the pure niter-bearing mass. Hence, it is formed 
along with the fixed niter, and this spirit of salt, generated in 
the nitrous mass in the pile (which usually occurs on addition 
of fresh manure), combines with the fixed alkaline material 
in the same place and at the same time as the spirit of niter. 
Since the acid salt, acting on the alkali salt of the ash simul- 
taneously urith the nitrous, can harm the formation of fixed 
niter, another suitable alkali is needed so that the acid of salt 
bound to it will not prevent generation of the niter. The na- 
ture most like it is the alkaline lime substance with which it 
preferably forms ordinary salt. 36 Therefore we take quicklime 
for the preparation of nitrous alkali ( ) 37 which has in itself 
the spirit of salt, separated from spirit of niter, and this con- 
geals into ordinary salt and moreover, the more subtle parts of 
this substance permit blunting of the caustic niter (29). 

36. The illustrious Pott, in Ms Dissert, de salt comm. 

37. [Number omitted in text.] 



178 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 
43 

Having established all this, I do not find it difficult to ex- 
plain that which is found in the mother liquor. Since magnesia 
is usually precipitated both by acids and by alkalis, it is clear 
that this is a substance of neutral nature and consists of acid 
and alkali. Its alkali is weaker than fixed alkali, since it is pre- 
cipitated by it. At the same time its acid is weaker than vitriolic 
acid, which follows from the same reason. It is certain that the 
volatile alkali which is driven out from the compound with 
acid of niter by the alkaline salt of ash is dissipated by fire on 
boiling. Hence it follows that the calcareous alkaline substance, 
dissolved in acid, forms the alkali mentioned, and after adding 
stronger alkali salt, precipitates the white powder of lime. But 
the acid in this compound is weaker than vitriolic acid and 
therefore should be acid of niter or of salt. Since the latter is 
contained less in the whole mass of niter-containing substance 
and the mother liquor gives off a brown, choking vapor (32), 
which is certainly nitrous, on evaporation and calcination, then 
it is fully evident that this alkali consists of the more delicate 
alkaline substance of quicklime dissolved in more dilute acid 
of niter. Thus niter manufacturers act quite reasonably when 
the alkali is passed through fresh ashes so that combined with 
fixed alkali salt it is changed to niter. 

44 

We consider that our explanation can be supported best by 
that process of preparing niter which Is carried out with the 
greatest advantage in respect to work and time and which re- 
futes what is sometimes stated but can be discarded according 
to our theory; the statement that the simultaneous fermenta- 
tion of plants and rotting of animal parts is required for the 
production of volatile niter. If this can take place by a process 
requiring less time, then extraction and crystallization make 
up the minimum which is required for the production of fixed 
niter. This was long ago noted by Ercker who recommended 
for the most rapid preparation of volatile alkali brine, a body 
tending to decomposition and very suitable for obtaining uri- 
niferous salt. 38 We have considered several processes but, bur- 
dened by many duties, we could test only one. This is: different 

38. Aula subterranea, p. 189. 



179 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

herbs thrown out of the garden and willow leaves in a clay 
vessel are macerated for several days at the temperature of a 
healthy man; to hasten the fermentation we add bread turning 
sour from fermentation. At the same time in another vessel is 
carried out putrefaction of kitchen wastes, decayed fish, and 
some quantity of putrefied urine is added; as soon as signs of 
beginning fermentation and putrefaction are seen in both ves- 
sels part of the fermenting material is removed and put into 
the second vessel with the putrefying substances; after an hour 
in its turn the substance from this vessel is transferred to the 
first. By repeating the transfer, movement is excited in both 
vessels; the mutual transfer increases the amount of substance 
and hastens the time, and the motion increases. Finally, when 
everything is placed in one vessel, carefully covered, after a day 
and a night motion ceases and above the precipitate is found 
a perfectly clear liquid. Passed as usual through ash, this gives 
a large enough amount of uncontaminated niter. 

45 

We think it would be worth an inquiring study if whoever 
has the time would use a suitable form of volatile alkali for 
catching the fermenting spirit. We would not consider it fruit- 
less also to add work on collecting the vapors of charcoal by 
fixed alkali. We will not say much about this, leaving it to the 
zeal of others. In general our theory permits easy explanation 
and understanding of the spontaneous generation of niter, al- 
most always the volatile, which is an efflorescence on the walls 
of buildings and the limestone cliffs of India and Africa, es- 
pecially where the necessary conditions are present. Many have 
overlooked, still more have falsely reported only from their 
imagination, concerning the niter of cellars cut into cliffs which 
is usually nothing more than earth scarcely penetrated by min- 
eral acids; miners call this earth kieselguhr or sinter. 

46 

It is clear from what has been reported in this chapter that 
niter is of plant origin. Though it is true that the principles 
of all the kingdoms of nature are the same, we also affirm that 
the component parts of niter arise from the components of 
plants except for that slight portion which is added to the 



180 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

alkali salt from the quicklime. This truth is especially con- 
firmed by the fact that a considerable quantity of niter can 
be obtained directly from plants (36). It is a fixed and every- 
where similar fact that nature never takes a round-about path 
when she can proceed by a direct route. 



CHAPTER 3. ON THE EXPANSIVE FORCE OF NITER 

47 

In the explosion of niter it is necessary to separate two cir- 
cumstances: first that it explodes with charcoal; second that its 
flame surprisingly so greatly exceeds the fastest and strongest 
expansion of other types of flames by which other bodies ex- 
plode. The first is not hard to explain by the combustible 
principle of acid of niter; the explanation of the second re- 
quires more labor and caution, the more so that it cannot be 
revealed from the previously explained nature of niter. It is 
therefore important to review other natural effects and to seek 
whether we do not meet some other similarities to the action 
of niter such as can be correctly applied to an explanation of 
this action. No other effect corresponds more to the great power 
of niter to give an explosion than the effect of air escaping 
after strong compression when its barriers are weakened or 
destroyed. Therefore an air gun made ready for firing is less 
in strength to this, it is true, yet it is entirely similar in action. 
Comparing these effects and taking into consideration the 
cleverness of nature which is so generous in various actions 
and so sparing in its principles, it easily comes to mind that 
the explosive force of niter depends on the air freed from its 
pores due to destruction of the niter itself. We assume that 
this was suspected even by Stahl 39 who asserted that in niter 
there was a vaporous air and at the time other bodies were 
extinguished in the absence of its access, niter had sufficient 
air within itself. In order to study properly this preliminary 
assumption, we must study more attentively the air included 
in the pores of the body. 

39. De nitro, di. 1 and 3. 



181 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

48 

It is well enough known from the experiments of the illus- 
trious Boyle that a body on destruction gives off an elastic 
fluid, very similar to air, which this most learned man called 
factitious air. 40 After this Boerhaave did not hesitate to call 
this fluid unreservedly air and he considered that he found it 
in bodies in such an amount that in water it was more than 
the water itself. 41 There were not, however, experiments which 
could confirm this truth so that no doubt remained, and then 
the famous Hales 42 by incessant work not only did this but 
also determined for many bodies the amount of air included 
in the narrow pores. The experiment showing that true air 




Fig. 12 

is found in very large amounts in the pores of bodies is this. 
The factitious air obtained from human calculi was kept by 
this author for three years, but he could not see any change 
in it. He found that its specific gravity was the same as that of 
ordinary air, that in both the elasticity was the same, and 
moreover, the factitious air compressed for several days lost no 
elasticity. 43 Although we had assumed otherwise, we found a 
sufficient similarity in the effects. Namely, on mixing alkali 
with vitrolic acid, spirit of niter, and other acids, and also on dis- 



40. In Experiments* not/is phystco-mechamcis. 

41. Element* chym., vol. 1, part 2, De aere. 

42. Statica uegetabilium. 

43. Hales, Stat. veget. 



182 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

solving metals, we obtained a great amount of this elastic fluid, 
often a hundred times surpassing the substances taken, and we 
found that in all its properties it was entirely similar to air. 
In order to separate from this elastic fluid the vapors to which 
some ascribe its expansion, we passed it through spirit of wine 
and through an alkaline solution. The elastic fluid thus ob- 
tained, more pure, remained very similar to air when kept for 
months [Fig. 12]. It was compressed by cold, expanded by heat, 
underwent compression, and on removal of the compressive 
force recovered the original volume, ascended through water 
and other liquid bodies in the usual form of bubbles, and, as 
our findings showed, never disappeared except In cases when 
the liquid body was deprived of air by the air pump. 

49 

From all this it fully follows that fluids obtained from dis- 
solved bodies are natural air, since these findings have the same 
force as chemical analysis; but for better evidence we can use 
the analogous argument of synthesis. Thus, in several experi- 
ments Hales noted that amounts of air were absorbed by some 
bodies many times greater than themselves. Thus, one dram 
of volatile ammonium salt absorbed 2i/ cubic inches, whence 
calculation showed that the volume of volatile salt was related 
to the volume of absorbed air as 1 : 9. Since, therefore, it is 
evident that true atmospheric air is compressed by the pore 
of bodies into much less space, then there Is no doubt that air 
given off from bodies, however much it surpasses them in vol- 
ume, is true atmospheric air. 

50 

No differently from other bodies, niter also has a great 
amount of air included in its pores. Hales obtained 180 times 
its volume from this salt on distillation. 44 From gunpowder 
ignited in a vacuum Robins separated air which occupied a 
space 244 times greater than the powder itself. 45 On distilla- 
tion there occurred a decomposition and separation of the 
particles from mutual cohesion, and hence the Included air 
was liberated, but there rapidly followed also a reunion in 

44. Statica vegetab., ch. 6. 

45. Neue Grundsatze der Artillerie, p. 90. 



183 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

which the particles were condensed, fusing and, upon this 
again, absorbing air. On the contrary, on explosion of the gun- 
powder there is a decomposition of its particles without their 
subsequent reunion. This was evidently not because in the first 
case a less amount of air was observed than in the second. As 
for the reason by which the air enters in such great amount 
into the pores of the body, this is purely a physical question 
and hence not directly related. However, for the greatest en- 
lightenment on this question we have considered separately 
our ideas on the elastic force of air. 

51 

Considering that we have suggested in 48 and 49 the ques- 
tion just now raised: that all bodies contain such an amount 
of air held in the pores, and some a greater amount than niter, 
then why do they not have the same explosive force? However, 
it is easy to answer this question. Actually let us assume that 
one pound of wood and one pound of gunpowder are burned 
simultaneously; we see that the latter burns in about one sec- 
ond and the first burns in half an hour. Let us assume that the 
flame which continues for half an hour when the wood is 
burned is generated directly in one second; can we not com- 
pare this with the flame from nitrous powder? As the bullet of 
a gun, moving with the speed of one verst per hour, striking 
a wall, does not damage it, but when it flies the same distance 
in one second, destroys it, so sudden liberation of air produces 
a striking action which it will not give when liberated little 
by little. Therefore the strength of niter or nitrous gunpowder 
occurs from the sudden explosion of air liberated from the 
pores of the destroyed niter; this also happens in other bodies. 
What glass or other vessel is so strong that, being closed, it can 
resist the air generated on solution of iron filings in oil of 
vitriol? But this same oil, strongly diluted with water, dissolv- 
ing an iron bar is incapable of producing any action of this 
sort. 

52 

Thus it remains only to explain why niter combined with 
charcoal and sulfur in gunpowder explodes with such strength. 
But this can easily be understood if first we consider the nature 



184 



On the Origin and Nature of Niter 

of the various component parts of gunpowder. These are the 
particles of sulfur which maintain the flame, the charcoal which 
disseminates the combustion, and the niter whose phlogiston, 
acting strongly in the acid, arouses the admixed sulfur, sud- 
denly breaking down and giving birth to a flame of great 
strength. 

THE END 



185 



Oration on the Use of Chemistry. Presented 
in a Public Session of the Imperial Academy 
of Sciences, September 6, 1751, by 
Mikhail Lomonosov 

In 1749 Lomonosov was requested by the President of the Acad- 
emy of Sciences to prepare an address in both Russian and Latin 
"on the origin and present state of chemistry/' In that year he 
gave a speech on the name day of Empress Elizabeth, September 6, 
and so he was asked to prepare his speech on chemistry for the 
name day of the Empress in 175L This he did, giving his "Oration 
on the Use of Chemistry" in Russian on September 6, 1751. The 
work was first published by the Academy as part of the record of 
the celebration of this day, and a Latin translation was prepared 
for the Academy by Lomonosov's student, Yaremskii, in 1752. A 
second Latin translation was issued as a separate publication by 
the Academy in 1759. The Russian text has been reprinted in 
Collected Works, II (1951), pp. 345-369, and in Selected Works, 
pp. 158-175. This rather bombastic oration is characteristic of the 
style admired in Lomonosov's day, and of which he was a recog- 
nized master. 



In discussing the welfare of mankind, my auditors, I do not 
find that It Is accomplished as If its benefits could be brought 
about by pleasant and simple labors. Nothing on earth can be 
given to mortals higher and more noble than an exercise in 
which beauty and significance, taking away a sense of weari- 
some toil, gather some delights which, while offending no one, 
entertain the innocent heart, and, increasing other pleasures, 
thankfully arouse perfect joy. Where can we seek such delight- 
ful, unblemished, and useful exercise except in science? Here 
we discover the beauty of multitudes of substances and the 
amazing variety of action and properties, marvels of art and 
order, constructed by the Almighty. Enriched by Him, no one 
then is harmed who gains for himself that inexhaustible trea- 



186 



Oration on the Use of Chemistry 

sure given universally to all. In this work we find service, not 
for ourselves alone, but for all society and sometimes for all 
generations of mankind. How much all this Is true, how many 
scholars by brilliant and careful labors have added felicity to 
our lives is clearly shown by the state of the Inhabitants of 
Europe and that of those who endure wandering on the plains 
of America. Picture the differences of these two in your minds. 
Picture the one man who knows how to name only a few neces- 
sities of life which lie always before him, and the other who 
explains In his language not only everything produced by 
earth, air, and water, not only everything which has been given 
through many centuries, names, properties, and qualities but 
who can also express in clear and vivid words an understand- 
ing of what Is not evident to our senses. The first of these men 
does not know how to reckon the number of his fingers; the 
other not only recognizes a weight through Its size without a 
balance, but a size through Its weight without a measure, not 
only can show from afar the distance of Inaccessible objects on 
earth, but can also determine the awesome remoteness of the 
heavenly orbs, the vast spaces, the rapid motions, and In the 
twinkling of an eye a shift of position of these orbs. The one 
does not recognize a year of his own life or the short span 
of his children; the other not only locates by years and months 
a multitude of past times, existing in almost infinite relation- 
ships in nature and society, but also foresees many future 
events. The one, thinking that in the year of his birth heaven 
was joined with earth, worships wild beasts or great trees as 
divinities of his little world; the other, visualizing vast spaces, 
skillful structures, and the beauty of every living thing, with 
holy awe and reverent love worships the Creator of infinite 
great wisdom and strength. Consider the man who Is scarcely 
able to cover his nakedness with leaves or the skins of wild 
beasts; and the one with clothes of cloth of gold, glittering with 
precious stones. Consider the one who for his defense from harm 
raises stones and trees from the earth, and compare him with 
the man with a supply of sharp weapons and machines which 
emulate thunder and lightning. Consider the man who can 
scarcely grind sharpened stones and thin trees with much sweat, 
and then the man who has powerful and skillfully made ma- 
chines for moving tremendous loads, for hastening long drawn 



187 



Oration on the Use of Chemistry 

out actions, and for exact measurement of size, weight, and 
time. Fix your eyes on the man who floats on an insignificant 
rivulet on a raft of bullrushes and on the man who dares the 
gulf of the sea in a huge ship, fortified by sure instruments; 
set him who moves against the force of the wind against him 
who without a pilot meets the rocky shoals. 

Do you not see that one is placed almost above mortal des- 
tiny, the other is scarcely separated from the speechless beasts; 
one amuses himself with a clear understanding of pleasant radi- 
ance; the other in gloomy darkness hardly sees the existence of 
his ignorance. What great benefits does learning bring, how 
much enlightenment comes from human reason, how pleasant 
is the beauty of its enjoyment. I would wish to lead you into 
the splendid temple of human well being, I would wish to 
show you the penetrating wit and unremitting zeal of the wise 
and diligent men within it who devise the most brilliant adorn- 
ments; 1 would wish to astonish you by the variety of novel 
changes, to cheer you with a delightful enumeration of the 
priceless benefits which they bring about, but it would require 
more of my understanding, more of my eloquence, more needed 
time for carrying this out than is allotted for the completion 
of this purpose. Therefore I beg you, follow me in your minds 
into just one hall of this great edifice in which I would show 
you some of the rich treasures of nature and explain the value 
and usefulness of those changes and phenomena which occur 
in chemistry. If in showing and explaining these, my words are 
anywhere unsatisfactory, the keenness of your own native wit 
will recompense you. 

The knowledge gained by scholars is divided into science 
and art. Science gives a clear understanding of substances and 
discovers hidden actions and the reasons for properties; art 
applies this to the increase of human benefits. Science satisfies 
the innate curiosity rooted in us; art entertains by winning of 
profit. Science shows the path to art; art hastens the progress 
of science. Both together serve harmoniously for our advantage. 
In both of these, how great and how necessary is the applica- 
tion of chemistry is clearly shown by the study of nature and 
the many uses of art in human life. 

On considering natural bodies we find in them two sorts of 
properties. One we understand clearly and in detail; although 



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the other presents itself clearly to the mind, yet we cannot pic- 
ture it so completely and plainly. The first sort includes size, 
appearance, motion, and position of the whole body; the sec- 
ond includes color, taste, smell, medicinal strength, and many 
others. The first can be measured exactly by mathematics and 
can be defined through mechanics; with the other such details 
cannot be applied simply, since the first has as its basis bodies 
which can be seen and touched; the second, particles which are 
most subtle and far removed from our senses. Yet for an exact 
and detailed understanding of any substance we should know 
the particles of which it is composed. For how can we discuss 
the human body without knowing the composition of the bone 
and the manner of strengthening it; without knowing the 
joints and the position of the muscles for movement or the 
arrangement of the nerves for feeling or the arrangement of 
the viscera for preparing the digestive juices or the spread of 
the veins for formation of blood, or the other organs of this 
wonderful structure. Equally is it impossible to have a detailed 
understanding of the second sort of qualities mentioned above 
if we do not study their smallest and most inseparable particles 
from which they arise and whose understanding is so essential 
to the investigator of nature, since these particles are them- 
selves so necessary for the composition of bodies. And though 
in the present century the device of the microscope has so 
increased the power of our sight that a scarcely visible mote 
can clearly show many parts, yet the power of this useful instru- 
ment serves only for study of organic particles such as the very 
small bubbles and tubules, invisible to the naked eye, which 
make up the solid parts of animal and plant substances; those 
particles of which mixed bodies consist cannot be seen in- 
dividually. For example, it is known through chemistry that 
mercury is present in cinnabar and terra alba in alum, but 
neither the mercury in cinnabar nor the terra alba in alum 
can be seen through the best microscopes; the same form is 
always seen in them. Therefore knowledge of this can be at- 
tained only through chemistry. Here I notice you say that 
chemistry shows only the materials of which mixed bodies con- 
sist and nothing of the individual particles. To this I answer 
that truly at this time the sharp eye of the investigator cannot 
penetrate much further into the interior of bodies. Yet if any 



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such secret Is discovered, chemistry will really be the foremost 
leader, will first tear away the veil from the innermost trea- 
sures of nature. Mathematics to some extent discovers the un- 
known. For this purpose, it composes the known from the un- 
known, it subtracts, it adds, it divides, it equates, it reduces, 
it transposes, it interchanges, and finally it finds the unknown 
quantity. Considering the case of the infinite and varied changes 
which the mixing and separation of the different materials of 
chemistry show, we should reach by reason the secret of the 
infinite smallness of form, measure, motion, and position of 
the primary particles which make up mixed bodies. When, dis- 
tracted by love, a betrothed wishes to know the extent of at- 
traction of his fiancee to him, in talking with her he notes the 
changes of color in her face, the turning of her eyes and the 
order of her speech; he observes her friendship, her amiability 
and cheerfulness; he tries to find out from the maid who serves 
her in her excitements, her dress, her visits, her domestic af- 
fairs; and so by all this he convinces himself of the true state 
of her heart. Equally the zealous lover of the beauties of na- 
ture, wishing to study deeply the secret state of the primary 
particles which make up bodies, must exhaust all those proper- 
ties and changes, especially those which are revealed by her 
intimate maidservants and confidantes; when chemistry enters 
the innermost halls and when it gathers together the particles 
separated and scattered by solution into solid forms and shows 
the differences in their shapes, the student seeks to learn how 
this occurs by the use of careful and ingeneous geometry; when 
solid bodies are changed into liquids or liquids into solids, and 
the different sorts of materials are scattered or combined, he 
suggests answers by the use of accurate and intricate mechanics; 
and when, by the addition of liquid materials, different colors 
are produced, he investigates by penetrating optics. Thus, when 
chemistry spreads open the secret treasurehouse of which she is 
mistress before a curious and unwearied zealot of nature, who 
begins to measure by geometry, to expand through mechanics, 
and to observe through optics, then it is very probable that he 
will attain the desired secrets. 

Here, I hope, you will still wish to ask why investigators of 
natural substances at the present time have not in fact suc- 
ceeded so far. To this I answer that it requires a very skillful 



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chemist and a deep mathematician in one person. The chemist 
must not be one who understands his science from reading 
books only, but one who by his own art practices skillfully in 
it, and not on the contrary one who, although he makes nu- 
merous experiments, yet stimulated by a great desire for enor- 
mous and rapidly gained riches, hastens only to cany out his 
wishes and therefore, following his dream, scorns the phe- 
nomena and changes which occur in his work which serve to 
explain the secrets of nature. Nor is there need for a mathema- 
tician who is skillful in his work only in calculation, but there 
is need for one who in originality and demonstration is accus- 
tomed to mathematical strictness and can deduce the laws of 
nature from her exactness and order. Useless are eyes to one 
who wishes to see the interior of matter but lacks hands for 
opening it. Useless are hands to him who does not have eyes 
to see the substances opened. The chemist with his hands, the 
mathematician with his eyes can rightly be called physicists. 
But since both require help from the other in studying the 
inner properties of a corporeal body, on the contrary the hu- 
man mind often withdraws along another path. The chemist, 
seeing in all his experiments different and often accidental 
phenomena and products, and enticed by this to the acquisition 
of rapid gain, laughs at the mathematician employed in some 
careful meditation on points and lines. The mathematician, on 
the other hand, sees in his propositions clear proofs and irre- 
futable and direct consequences which draw forth an unknown 
number of properties, and scorns the chemist as a practical 
man, overburdened and lost among many disordered experi- 
ments. Very much accustomed to clean paper and light geo- 
metrical instruments, the mathematician is choked by the 
smoke and ashes of the chemist. Therefore, at this time, these 
two, sisters bound by common advantages, give birth to sons 
who in great measure disagree. This is the reason that we do 
not yet have the full study of chemistry combined with a deep 
understanding of mathematics. Although in the present century 
some have shown fair success in both sciences, yet this enter- 
prise is held to be beyond their strength and they do not wish 
to labor over the study of these particles with a firm purpose 
and constant zeal, especially when they observe that sometimes 
with no little waste of time and work, natural science is more 



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darkened by empty schemes born in someone's head than it is 
brought into the light. 

The investigation of the primary particles which make up 
bodies is to be sought in the reasons for their mutual cohesion 
which joins them in the composition of bodies and from which 
all the differences in solidity and fluidity, hardness and soft- 
ness, brittleness and ductility originate. How can all this be 
studied more fitly than through chemistry? Only chemistry 
softens them in fire and again hardens them, separates them, 
disperses them into the air and collects them back again from 
it, dissolves them with water and, evaporating it, strongly re- 
cornbines them, dissolves solid bodies in caustic solutions and 
converts solid materials into liquids, liquids into dust, and 
dust into rocky solids. Thus curious physicists reveal a great 
many different paths to the great number of forms and infinite 
number of bodies by increasing or decreasing the mutual force 
of cohesion between the particles of the compound bodies 
which skillful nature has attained by her great art. But how 
wide and beautiful is the play of colors which investigators of 
chemistry have introduced into the field of nature which itself 
shows its action through such a multitude of colors, so different 
and useful. For copper alone not only produces all the pure 
colors which prismatic optical glass shows but also produces all 
sorts of colors when mixed under different conditions. The 
mixing and separation of other minerals and also of materials 
from plants and animals show in their changes bodies with 
properties pleasant to see. I cannot include everything in my 
brief words, but still, like some pantomime or a silent repre- 
sentation in the vast theater of nature these things make known 
to the astute observer their secret reasons by the variety of 
their changes, and seem to strive to give an explanation by 
their mute communication. 

Animal and plant bodies consist of organic and mixed par- 
ticles. Mixed substances are solid or liquid. Liquids are held by 
solids; solid bodies are nourished by liquids, they grow and 
bloom, they bring flowers and fruits. In the accomplishment of 
all this, nature changes the character of the juices in the dif- 
ferent structures and organs; she especially changes the taste 
and odor, separates the sweet milk and bitter bile from a single 
food and from the same earth gives birth to acid and sweet 



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fruits and to herbs with unpleasant as well as pleasant odors. 
How many changes are produced in all this is well known to 
those who understand the structure of odorous bodies and the 
multitude of growing things of the earth. Chemistry strives in 
all these to imitate nature exactly; how often it softens strong 
tastes and develops weak ones; from lead, repulsive to the 
tongue, and sharp vinegar it produces a honey of surpassing 
sweetness, and by mixing minerals there is emitted the delicate 
sweet perfume of roses; on the other hand, from niter which 
has no odor or strong taste is generated the acidity which pene- 
trates and corrodes solid metals and hinders breathing by its 
stench. Is it not clear from this that you cannot seek success- 
fully the causes for different tastes and odors in any way other 
than by following this chemistry and using its art to divine 
in the fine vessels of organic bodies the locked changes sensible 
only to taste and smell? 

A great part of physics and the most useful part of science 
for humans is medicine, which through an understanding of 
the properties of the human body reaches the causes of dis- 
turbances in health and, using proper media for its improve- 
ment, often restores almost from the grave those who suffer 
from disease. Illness in great part occurs from damage to the 
fluids which are needed for human life and are transformed 
in our bodies, whose qualities make up the parts which are 
beneficial or harmful in the changes which produce or cut off 
our capabilities and which no one can seek to study without 
chemistry. By it we understand the natural mixing of blood 
and the nutritive juices, by it we uncover the constitution of 
healthful and harmful foods, by it beneficial medicines are pre- 
pared not only from herbs, but from minerals taken from the 
depths of the earth. In a word, no physician can be complete 
without sufficient knowledge of chemistry, and in spite of all 
its flaws, of all excesses and of all the feeble intentions of 
those in medical science, chemistry alone offers hope. 

For a long time it has been felt and stated in detail that 
chemistry has revealed and will reveal the secrets of nature. 
Therefore it is most important that I now explain this action 
to you. Fire, which for the measure of its strength is called heat, 
by its presence and action is so widely distributed in all the 
world that there is no place where it does not exist, for in the 



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coldest northern regions lying near the pole in the midst o 
winter it always can be demonstrated easily. There is not one 
action in nature which should not be ascribed to its basis, for 
from it all internal motion of bodies and hence all external 
motion proceeds. By it all animals are conceived and grow and 
move. By it blood circulates and our health and life are main- 
tained. By its virtue mountains produce all sorts of minerals 
in their interiors, and waters spill forth, wholesome for weak- 
nesses of our bodies. And you, pleasant fields and forests, you 
are covered with such beautiful clothing, you delight our mem- 
bers and cheer our senses when friendly warmth by its gentle 
advent drives away frost and snow, nourishes you with its rich 
moisture, speckles you with shining and fragrant flowers and 
enriches you with sweet fruits; except for this your beauty 
would wither, the face of the earth would grow pale, and the 
universe would be filled with lamentations. Without fire the 
nourishing dew and sweetly dissolving rain could not fall on 
the cornfields, springs would dry up, the course of rivers would 
be stopped, the air would lack motion, and the mighty ocean 
would solidify into perpetual ice; without it the sun would be 
darkened, the moon would be overcast, the stars would vanish 
and nature itself would perish. Therefore many seekers of the 
internal nature of mixed bodies not only wish to be called by 
the honorable name of philosophers acting through fire, not 
only did pagan peoples in whom science was held in great 
honor grant to fire divine worship, but also the Scriptures 
themselves often tell of divine appearances in the form of fire. 
Thus among natural substances, what is more worthy of our 
study than that common spirit of all compound substances, 
that which gives birth to all the wonderful changes within 
bodies, that sensitive and strong instrument? But it is not pos- 
sible at all to undertake this study without chemistry, for what 
can more know the properties of fire, can measure its strength 
and can open the way to the secret causes of its actions than 
chemistry which carries out all its enterprises by fire? Without 
using ordinary methods, it suddenly produces fire in cold bodies 
and great cold in warm ones. It is known to chemists that 
strong waters which dissolve metals without contact with ex- 
ternal fire are heated, boil, and give off a burning vapor, that 
by mixing together strong acid of niter and some fatty ma- 



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terials not only is there terrible boiling, smoke, and noise, but 
also a violent flame which enflames the eye in an instant; and 
contrary to this, warm niter, put into warm water, gives such a 
strong cold that in a suitable vessel in midsummer it freezes, 
I do not mention here the different phosphors prepared by 
chemical art which in the open air catch fire spontaneously 
and so are related to the above effects; they show that the 
properties of fire are not studied by anyone as suitably as the 
chemist. No one can approach closer to this great altar, kindled 
from the beginning o the world by the Most High, than this 
most closely related priest. 

This is the use which physics gets from chemistry. This is 
the method by which a clear understanding of substances il- 
luminates and shows a direct path to the artist, and in this sci- 
ence I shall now try briefly to show how useful and how strong 
it is. 

Among the artisans the first place, in my opinion, is held by 
the metallurgists who seek to find and purify metals and other 
minerals. This advantage is given to them not only by their 
great antiquity, as the Scriptures testify, 1 and by the agreement 
of all sorts of humans, but also by the great and widespread 
use of the metals themselves. For metals give strength and 
beauty to the most important substances in common use. They 
decorate the temples of the gods and adorn royal thrones, or, 
protecting from enemy attack, they maintain ships, which 
bound together by the strength of metals, float safely on the 
ocean depths among stormy gales. Metals open up the depths 
of the earth for the enrichment of the soil; metals serve us in 
capturing land and sea animals for our sustenance; metals fa- 
cilitate coinage for the convenience of merchants who thus 
avoid the use of wearying and heavy goods. And to speak 
briefly, not one artisan, not one craftsman can avoid the gen- 
eral use of metals. But these so necessary materials and es- 
pecially those which have greater utility and value encourage 
us to work deep in the earth, although they are often changed 
in external form. Precious metals mixed with simple earths or 
combined with base rocks escape our eyes; on the other hand, 
simple substances present In small and unprofitable quantities, 

J. Genesis, chapter 4. 



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Oration on the Use of Chemistry 

and material which shines like gold and shows various and 
beautiful colors may lead on the unskillful to hope of great 
riches. And although sometimes the unskilled happen to find 
and recognize precious metals in the mountains, yet this is of 
little use to them when they do not know how to separate from 
them the undesired substances, or, having separated a large 
part, waste it by lack of skill. In this case, how penetrating and 
strong is the action of chemistry! In vain does cunning nature 
hide her secrets from it by such a base screen and shut them 
up in such simple shrines, for the acuteness of the fine fingers 
of chemistry knows how to recognize the useful as opposed to 
the useless, the precious as opposed to the base, and to separate 
them and to see through the false surface to the inner worth. In 
vain does she lock up her riches in the hardness of heavy rocks 
and surround them with materials harmful to our lives; for 
armed with water and fire, chemistry breaks down the strong 
covering and drives away everything which is contrary to 
health. In vain does she surround this golden fleece with the 
mouth of such a fierce and terrible dragon, for the seeker, 
taught by our gentle Medea, draws out the venomous teeth 
and guards the medicine taken from them with the entwined 
vapors. These benefits began from chemistry and in our father- 
land are carried out as they were in Germany, about which the 
ancient Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus once spoke. 2 "I 
cannot say/' he wrote, "that silver and gold are not born in 
Germany, for who tries to seek them there?" And as there in 
the following centuries great riches were found, as was shown 
in the Meissen and Hartz factories, so also in Russia we should 
hope for the same and gain obvious benefits from this by suf- 
ficient experiments. It is not true, as they say, that in warm 
regions there are more precious metals, born by the action of 
the sun, than in the cold, for according to true physical experi- 
ments it is known that the heat of the sun does not penetrate 
to those depths in the earth in which metals are found. And 
burning Libya, which lacks metals, and bitterly cold Norway, 
which has pure silver in its rocks, are shown to be opposed to 
this opinion. The only difference is that in hot countries the 
metals lie closer to the surface of the earth, for which reason 

2. Germania, chapter 5. 



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they can be clearly seen. First of all, great rains often fall there 
and in some places continue for half a year, softening and 
carrying away the soil and washing away the light, leaving the 
heavy minerals; therefore the inhabitants of that place after 
the rainy part of the year always seek in the proper place for 
gold and precious stones. Secondly, parts of the earth are shat- 
tered by earthquakes, and mountains are shifted and those 
things which nature produced within the earth are thrown out 
on its surface. Thus it follows that it is not the greater amount 
of metals, but their easier availability that allows the hot coun- 
tries to gain the advantage over us. Spacious and abundantly 
supplied Russia requires zeal and labor to seek for metals. 

It seems to me I hear her prophesy to her sons: Expand your 
hopes and reach into my depths, and do not think your search 
will be in vain. Give to my fields the work of the cultivator and 
my fertile soil will multiply your flocks and my forests and 
waters will be filled with animals for your nourishment; all 
this will not only satisfy needs within my borders, but will 
overflow in its excess into foreign countries. Can you therefore 
think that my mountains will not reward the sweat of your 
brow with rich treasures? Within my borders from the heat of 
India to the Arctic Sea you have evidence enough of my sub- 
terranean wealth. For the things needed for these deeds I open 
to you in summer my far flowing rivers, in winter I lay down 
my smooth snow. From these labors of yours I expect increase 
of merchants and artisans, I expect greater degrees of adorn- 
ment and strengthening and Increase of armed forces, I expect 
and wish to see the expanses of my seas covered with multi- 
tudes of fleets, terrible to the enemy, and the glory and strength 
of my empire extended over the deep to strange lands. Rest 
easy over this, blessed country, rest easy, our dearest father- 
land, when in thee such a generous patroness of science reigns. 
Thy great enlightener founded and increased the defense of 
solid metals; his most august daughter has followed her father 
and increased their value for thy ornamentation and enrich- 
ment, and has expanded along with other sciences the chemical 
art which, affirming her maternal care of this great empire and 
encouraged by her generosity, has penetrated into the moun- 
tains and purified that which lay dormant and useless within 
them for the increase of our happiness and above all, by power- 



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ful metallurgy, has striven to bring thee other useful materials. 

The hands of chemistry are widely spread in human affairs, 
my auditors. Wherever we look, wherever we search, do we not 
everywhere find before our eyes the success of its enterprises? 
In the earliest times of the formation of the world, man was 
forced by heat and cold to cover his body; at first using leaves 
and skins, he then learned to make himself clothing from wool 
and other soft materials, clothing which, although it protected 
his body sufficiently, yet by its changeless form wearied the 
human heart; his changing desires required differences; he 
shunned the simple whiteness and, envying those animals 
which were multicolored, he sought to protect his body with 
like splendor. Then chemistry, squeezing out juices from herbs 
and flowers, extracting roots, dissolving minerals, and combin- 
ing different substances with each other, strove to carry out 
the wishes of mankind, and how much it has adorned us thus 
does not need my words and proofs, but you may see it every- 
where with your own eyes. 

These chemical devices not only give cheer to our gaze by 
variety in garments, but also satisfy other needs. What can 
produce greater zeal and respect in us than our parents? Who 
is dearer in life to a man than his own children? Who are 
more pleasant than sincere friends? But they are often absent 
In distant places or have departed from the light of our eyes. 
Under such conditions what can comfort us more and soften 
the sorrow of our hearts than their likenesses, painted by the 
art of portraiture? The absent are made present and the dead 
brought to life. Everyone who has long departed or is separated 
by space from our sight is brought close to those who gaze 
upon the painting. Here we see before us great rulers and 
brave heroes and other famous men, worthy of glory among 
their descendants. We see far off in distant lands great cities 
and huge and magnificent buildings. Turning to distant fields 
or between high mountains we gaze for a time in silence on the 
stormy ocean, on the shattered ship or on one brought by the 
power of the wind to the sheltering shore. In the middle of 
winter we are delighted by the sight of a green forest, a flowing 
spring, grazing herds, and laboring farmers. All this we can see 
through painting. But this depends entirely upon chemistry. 
Should we take away the means for preparing pigments, we 



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would be deprived of the pleasures of portraiture; likenesses 
are lost along with these substances and the very vividness 
which we gain from It disappears. It Is true that the pigments 
do not retain their brightness and goodness as long as we 
would wish, but in a short time darken and finally the great 
part of their color disappears. To what shall we turn to escape 
this difficulty? Who can invent a long lasting medium which 
will last for the artist? That same chemistry which, seeing that 
the delicate compositions fade and are destroyed by the changes 
from air and sunlight, by the strongest weapon of Its art, using 
fire, and combining solid minerals with glass at a great heat 
has produced materials which in color and purity greatly excel, 
and in hardness and resistance to moist air and the great heat 
of the sun assure that through many centuries their color will 
not be lost, as Is shown by the mosaics, more than a thousand 
years old, found In Greek and Italian temples. And though In 
ancient times natural rocks of different colors were used for 
this purpose, and for ordinary painting different natural earths 
served for the unchanging pigments used in art, yet the great 
advantage which glass compositions have over stones at the 
present time attracts us to the art of the Roman artisans and 
its use. For, In the first place, rarely and with great difficulty 
can we obtain the shades of so many colors from natural rocks 
to put into the compositions desired by the artist. Second, 
though sometimes they are arranged with great difficulty, not 
a few precious stones suitable for other uses may be spoiled. 
Third, it Is possible to prepare for the compositions parts of a 
desired size and shape because of their great softness and easy 
melting, while for natural stones great labor and patience are 
required. Finally, glass colored by art is much superior to the 
color of natural stones, and in the future will attain to great 
perfection by the art of the chemist. It is true that stones sur- 
pass glass materials in hardness, but this Is unimportant In 
matters in which resistance of the colors to air and sunlight is 
required. Thus, it is not in vain that modern master craftsmen 
prefer art to nature in this matter, since art requires less labor 
and produces a better result. Since there is already one use of 
glass in the painters art, it is scarcely likely that there will not 
be many faster and better uses stemming from this great chem- 
ical discovery. But discussing it requires a whole new vocabu- 



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Oration on the Use of Chemistry 

lary which has no place here. Therefore I hurry on to other 
actions which our science shows by its art. 

But what vast expanses do I see before me! I see still other 
substances which draw my words onward. And when I wish to 
show you how much chemistry grants us in the preparation of 
pleasant food and drink, the discussion must be preceded by 
consideration of the vessels in which we enjoy these. We 
imagine their purity, transparency, brilliancy, and varied colors 
by which the art redoubles the sweetness of taste, satisfying 
alike to the tongue and the eye. Now I do not wish to tire your 
patience by the details of all I have mentioned, but I will con- 
clude with one salutary boon to mankind which chemistry has 
granted. 

How sad were adventures and conquests in ancient times 
and different lands and how often we read with pity the history 
which tells of distant and unknown countries when these were 
suddenly invaded, great and glorious cities were turned to 
smoke and ashes, villages were laid waste, and whole peoples 
who did not have time to resist the rapid attack were finally 
destroyed and scattered, so that of their great power and glory 
only the name remains. We read of filling fields with many 
thousands of wounded and wide rivers of blood and piles of 
corpses, which surpasses the happenings of our time, in which 
we do not have such horrible events. Yet the concern of 
notable writers and the very ruins of ancient cities dispel doubt 
as to the truth of these sad and shameful occurrences. From 
whence do we see the establishment of moderation among 
mortals? Did Orpheus by his sweet singing soften the temper 
of mankind? But in the present century we still have wicked 
and envious persons who sadden the heart by stealing the pos- 
sessions of others. Did Lycurgus or Solon by stringent laws 
bind the passions? But now we often respect strong weapons 
above the rights of nations. Did the mighty and ancient 
Croesus with his surpassing wealth sate the greed for money? 
But this is like a flame: the more fuel is added, the stronger 
it becomes. Who has given us such a great boon? A simple 
and poor man who, to escape his poverty followed chemistry at 
a distance to obtain wealth by a new road and in this intention 
opened a path into the inner ways of metals; he combined sul- 
fur and niter with charcoal and placed them in a vessel on the 



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Oration on the Use of Chemistry 

fire. Suddenly a terrible sound and a strong blast occurred! And 
though he himself did not remain unharmed, yet great was the 
glad hope that he had obtained a strong material for attacking 
insoluble metals. Therefore he closed up and riveted his com- 
position in a solid iron vessel, but without success. From this 
came firearms thundering at troops and city walls, and from 
the hands of human beings deadly lightning flashed. 

But, you say, this does not revive; it kills, causing further 
and stronger blasts. I answer, the more it saves. Consider a 
battle of warrior against warrior, sword against sword, blow 
against blow in closest contact; would not many thousands of 
beaten and wounded fall to death in one moment? Compare 
this with the present battles and you will see that the hand 
can strike down much faster than the gun can be loaded with 
powder and metal; it is easier to strike in inflicting Injury in 
the clear air than through thick smoke from distant guns; more 
brightly blazes the heart in a confrontation which can be seen 
directly against itself than when this is hidden. Here is the 
reason that in the present century there is no Hannibal like 
the one who took from the Roman nobles killed in one battle 
four measures of gold rings. There is no inhuman Batyev who, 
proceeding in a short time from the Caucasus to the Alps, is 
believed to have laid many lands to waste. There is now no 
foreign enemy to trouble our quiet nation; but men fear that 
the building up and supplying of these new inventions, pre- 
serving their strength, will deprive us not only of profit, but of 
life itself. On the contrary, what has the power to destroy such 
fortifications, other than the inventions of chemistry: compare 
an army on a long march, burdened with heavy equipment, 
and the rapidly arriving news of the misfortune and the an- 
nouncement calling the nation to the defense. Thus chemistry, 
by the strongest weapon, lessens the destruction and the threat 
of death to humanity and delivers many from slaughter. 

Rejoice, populous places, adorn yourselves, impassable deserts, 
your happiness approaches. Tribes and nations will surely in- 
crease and will be scattered more rapidly than before; quickly 
great cities and rich villages will adorn you; instead of fearing 
wild beasts your spaces will be filled with humans who please 
the eye; instead of thorns, grain will cover you. Then do not 
forget to give thanks to chemistry for your good fortune and 



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Oration on the Use of Chemistry 

encouragement, for it asks nothing of you but diligence in its 
practice for your greatest adornment and enrichment. 

In discussing the uses of chemistry in science and art, my 
auditors, I should warn you that I do not consider that all 
human life consists in this one study and that I regard with 
contempt those amateurs who do not consider the needs of 
other arts. Each science has an equal part in our good fortune, 
and you have heard of several at the beginning of my oration. 
The human race should render great thanks to the Almighty 
for the gift to it of the ability to obtain such knowledge. Most 
of all should Europe render thanks which most of all enjoys 
this gift and is thus distinguished from other nations. But how 
fervent is the zeal of Russia which can place its offering on 
the altar at a time when science, after the darkness of barbarian 
centuries, has begun to shine forth, raising in its great wisdom 
a hero, the great Peter, the true father of his country who took 
Russia, so long removed from the light of learning, by his 
manly hand and, surrounded on all sides by enemies internal 
and external, was protected by the gift of God; he destroyed all 
obstacles, and set it on the path of clear knowledge. At the end 
of his heavy military labors, having strengthened the safety of 
the whole fatherland on all sides, he first of all took care to 
establish, to assist, and to augment science in it. Blessed be 
those eyes which saw the majesty of this man on earth. Blessed 
be those who sacrificed, who poured out sweat and blood for 
him and for the fatherland and who after loyal service were 
anointed by a kiss on head and eyes. 

But we, who were unable to behold the mighty father in life, 
now have the great comfort that we see on the throne his 
daughter, so worthy of her father, his successor, our most gra- 
cious empress. We see the pious daughter of the God-fearing 
father, the courageous daughter of the heroic father, the 
sagacious daughter of the all-wise father; the father a founder 
of science, the daughter its most generous patroness. She re- 
gards science with maternal care and with devoted zeal she 
wishes that during her blessed life and in her fortunate do- 
mains there should be not only a meeting place, but also a 
happy life for its own learned sons. 



202 



An Attempt at a Theory of the Elastic 
Force of Air 

Lomonosov was always interested in explanations of physical phe- 
nomena in terms of his corpuscular theory, and though most of his 
early work had a more strictly chemical character, he never failed 
to note the physicochemical implications of his theories. Thus, 
when in 1748 he was planning his essay on the nature of niter, he 
ascribed the explosive power of this salt to the presence of large 
amounts of air in its pores, and so he was led to a consideration of 
the elastic power of air. The results of his thinking were presented 
to the Academy of Sciences on September 2, 1748, and were pub- 
lished in the group of his papers which appeared in 1750. His 
Latin manuscript "Tentamen theoriae de vi aeris elastica" was 
published in Novi Commentarii Academiae scientiarum imperialis 
Petropolitanae, 1:230-244 (1750). It was translated into Russian by 
B. N. Menshutkin in 1936. The Latin text and Russian translation 
were reprinted in Collected Works, II (1951), pp. 105-139, and the 
Russian translation is given in Selected Works ^ pp. 134-149. 



1 

After the use of the air pump had been made well known, 
the natural sciences received an enormous development, espe- 
cially in the part treating o the nature of air. The properties 
of the latter, entirely unknown in the last century, are now 
not only familiar to us, but are even expressed in mathematical 
laws, and we see with admiration that they have reached almost 
the highest degree of clear comprehension. But, although in 
the reports of physicists its elasticity is described more often 
than the other properties of air and to everyone who under- 
takes the study of natural science it is presented as one of the 
chief factors in natural phenomena, yet the reason for it re- 
mains insufficiently explained and even famous investigators 
have taxed their inventiveness in vain for its explanation. 
Therefore writers on physics in great part do not touch upon 
the reason for elasticity, but are satisfied merely to describe 
its action. Even if anyone gives a reason, he has under him only 



203 



A Theory o the Elastic Force of Air 

precarious support which is not enough to explain the effects 
caused by elasticity of air. In great part, then, these reasons 
already lack significance, since they contain in themselves 
nothing except questions merely changed into other words. 

2 

Of all the suggestions for explaining the elasticity of air in 
hypotheses which have been made known to us up to now in 
the papers of physicists, it seems most realistic to start from the 
central laws of motion, for in them there is no question of 
varied phrases for the cause itself, and nothing foreign to the 
laws of motion is suggested. In taking up this matter we 
would only have repeated what has already been done if we 
did not see that in the outstanding discoveries made up to now 
there are some deficiencies, or, more truly, superfluities. 



Actually, we consider it superfluous to call for the aid of 
some strange fluid in finding the reasons for the elasticity of 
air, a fluid like that which many, according to the usage of this 
century, so rich in subtle substances, customarily employ for 
explaining the nature of phenomena. We are satisfied with the 
subtlety and mobility of the air itself, and seek the reason for 
its elasticity in its own material. Everyone who has read our 
meditations on the cause of heat and compares what follows 
with it will agree that we can safely do this. 



So as to set about this task in proper order we begin with a 
clear presentation of the idea of the elasticity of air; therefore 
we propose this reasoning as certain and say that the elastic 
force consists in a tendency of air to distribute itself in all di- 
rections. Hence we conclude that the insensible particles of 
air, which mutually recede from each other, actually expand 
as soon as any obstacle is removed. Thus we come to consider 
two matters: the nature of the particles themselves and the 
force by which they are separated from each other. 

^5 

The particles of air can be considered in two ways: either as 
separate particles of a complex body such that from their 



204 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 
known state and organized structure the particles which form 
them tend to expand and thus each separate particle can ex- 
pand into a great space and be compressed into a smaller one; 
or the property of elasticity can be shown not by the physical 
composition and organized structure of the individual particles, 
but by their combinations. 



The first assumption, which is contrary to the greatest sim- 
plicity of nature, also does not agree with the transparency and 
indestructible stability of air. For in all compound and or- 
ganized structures there should be particles which the force 
of heat excites more and more, with production of greater 
elasticity. Therefore, when air is rarefied by the sun's heat, the 
rays of the sun should certainly penetrate into any particle. 
And since in descending from any surrounding ethereal fluid 
(or, if you prefer, from a vacuum) the rays must everywhere 
pass through solid particles which settle down and hence are 
specifically much heavier, an infinite number of times; this can- 
not occur unless on entering and leaving each particle of air 
they will undergo refraction. And although in particles of such 
a nature the refraction may be infinitely small, yet the refracted 
light in an endless number of particles from the surface of the 
atmosphere to the earth itself would be so weakened that we 
would come to be in perpetual night. This is confirmed by 
similar cases: particles or molecules of water, consisting of 
combinations of its atoms, form clouds, and although each par- 
ticle refracts light slightly and separately and in a small space 
does not nullify the transparency of the air, yet when these 
are collected more thickly and deeply, they darken the sky 
with blackness and sometimes almost completely prevent use 
of the light of noon. 

7 

Finally, we take into consideration the numerous changes 
undergone by the air, its especially rapid motions, very strong 
impact, very great friction with very solid bodies, and the 
pressure of the atmosphere, and we remember the experiments 
of Roberval who kept air strongly compressed for 15 years 
and at the end found its elasticity unchanged; then it is 1m- 



205 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 

possible to assume that the separate particles of the air, so 
minute, will be organized or consist of many particles of in- 
comprehensible smallness, very mobile and therefore bound to 
each other very slightly. Therefore we accept the second as- 
sumption of 5 and in no way doubt that those particles of 
air which produce elasticity, tending to separate from each 
other., lack any physical complexity and organized structure,, 
and in order to be able to undergo such changes and to pro- 
duce such remarkable actions, they should be especially stable 
and not undergo any changes; therefore in truth we ought to 
call them atoms. And since they act physically on material 
bodies, they themselves should be corporeal and have extension. 



As to the shape of the atoms of air, we consider that the 
mobility, stability, simplicity, and very soft nature of air leads 
mostly to a shape very close to spherical: this we deduce with 
full clarity from the findings on the reflection of air from 
elliptkle arches. Since, further, hot air heats cold bodies which 
it surrounds, this signifies that its atoms excite in particles of 
bodies which touch it a rotary motion 1 which also produces 
heat. And this can occur only if friction arises between them; 
but friction can arise only if the atoms of air are roughened. 



However, this idea agrees to the greatest degree with the 
nature of the material. Actually, in all the bodies of the 
world, either taken as a whole or in their parts, shape is dis- 
tinctive for each but they are never so leveled that they do not 
show some irregularities. However, these latter are so present 
that, due to their very small ratio to the whole body, the shape 
itself retains its individuality. Just as nature for her needs made 
our earthly globe mountainous, and she made even the smooth- 
est seeming particles of the bodies belonging to it rough and 
uneven, just so then we conclude by analogy that the aerial 
atoms also, though they have no physical complexity, are sup- 

1. See our Meditations on the Cause of Heat. 



206 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 
plied by the care of this same nature, skillful in its simplicity, 
with very small and very strong projections for the production 
of very useful actions. 

10 

But the atoms of air, showing elasticity, move away from 
each other either by some direct reciprocal action or by means 
of some fluid which separates them and therefore is formed of 
much smaller particles. We will now discuss which of these two 
possibilities produces the elasticity. For this we consider one of 
the chief properties of the elastic force of air, namely, that the 
more the air is compressed by external force and the closer 
the atoms come to each other, the more elastic force is excited. 

11 

We assume first that the particles of air are dispersed to 
different sides by the action of some especially subtle fluid 
which is located between them. When air of any sort of solid 
vessel is compressed into less space, then this fluid is either 
compressed along with it, or it is not compressed. In the first 
case: 1) the walls of the solid vessel will be impervious to the 
very subtle fluid, and hence its particles will be hardly or not 
at all smaller than the atoms of air, which contradicts what was 
said in 10; 2) this fluid will itself act on the vessel which 
contains it; then it evidently is not required that the particles 
of air will intermingle with this fluid, since it is sufficient for 
producing the action of elasticity with respect to the body by 
itself; 3) its particles will have a tendency to withdraw from 
each other so that it will again become necessary to explain 
this, and finally, the question being considered will remain 
unanswered. In the second case: 1) this fluid will scarcely pro- 
duce any action on the walls of even the strongest vessel and 
hence on the finest atoms of air, easily avoiding by its lightness 
and mobility all the forces which could act upon it; 2) when 
compressed in a vessel, the air Is thickened and the density of 
the fluid which already easily passes through the walls o the 
vessel will remain the same so that the number of air atoms 
with respect to the amount of fluid becomes greater than be- 
fore the compression. Therefore the elasticity of the fluid, 



207 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 

whose amount is made less, will exert less effect on the air 
atoms and hence the elasticity of the air, compressed by an 
external force into less space, should be lessened. 

12 

All this shows very clearly that the force of elasticity of air 
cannot come from any fluid which separates its particles. And 
since this force, other conditions being equal, is increased or 
decreased proportionally to the density of the air material it- 
self, there is no doubt that it is produced by some sort of direct 
interaction of its atoms. 

13 

One body cannot act directly on another without contact 
with it; therefore when atoms of air act directly on each other 
they must necessarily come into contact. Further, since our at- 
mospheric air under the influence of an external force can be 
compressed into more than thirty fold less space, there must 
exist between the atoms spaces not filled with their own ma- 
terial and in these spaces many such atoms can be put; hence 
the atoms are not found in mutual contact. At first glance, 
these two facts seem contradictory, but nonetheless they are 
very true and cannot be otherwise reconciled than by dis- 
tinguishing two contradictory states of the atoms of air with 
time, so that atoms occur in one or another state alternately. 
The alternation must be of such a nature that not all the 
atoms should simultaneously show the same state, and that a 
given state should not last for a perceptible time. For the first 
would sufficiently often cause striking changes in amplitude, 
and the second would make expansion of the air especially slow 
and sluggish. Evidently therefore the separate air atoms in dis- 
ordered alternation collide with the nearest in an insensible in- 
terval of time and while some are in contact, others are torn 
one from another and strike those nearest them, so that again 
they rebound; thus, continually repelled from each other by 
frequent mutual blows, they tend to scatter on all sides. 

14 

Having established all this, it remains for us to show how 
air atoms so react with each other that one atom repels 



208 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 

another. No other argument can be presented than the most 
important property, this same elasticity of air. Namely, as each 
person knows, when the heat of air increases, its elasticity is 
more and more strengthened, and when the heat is decreased, 
it is weakened, so that, other conditions being equal, the 
greatest elasticity is found with the highest heat known to us, 
and with the least heat, that is, at the greatest cold examined 
up to now, elasticity is lowest, according to a constant law. 
Hence it is evident that the atoms of air act reciprocally on one 
another by contact more strongly or more weakly depending 
on increase or decrease in their degree of heat, so that, if it 
were possible that heat of the air entirely vanished, then the 
atoms should be completely lacking in this interaction. Hence 
it follows that the interaction of atoms of air depends only on 
heat. 

15 

Heat consists of a rotary motion of the particles of the hot 
body 2 because everything which produces heat causes a rotary 
motion of the particles of the heated body so that the interac- 
tion of the atoms of air depends on their rotary motion. But 
two spherical bodies, perfectly smooth, placed next to each other 
and brought into very rapid rotary motion, cannot interact 
so as to repel each other. Thus, here there is once more con- 
firmation of the truth presented above (8), and we see the 






Figs. 1-3 



2. Meditations on heat. 



209 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 

ingenuity of nature, which very often by one and the same 
means produces different effects in bodies, so that here the 
roughness of the atoms of air serves to transfer their heat to 
other bodies (8) and to bring about elasticity. 

16 

Thus, let two atoms of air A and B be separated from each 
other so that atom A is above atom B (Fig. 1). Let both rotate 
very rapidly, so that part of the surface of atom A facing atom 
B moves in a direction opposite to that in which moves the 
part of the surface of atom jB facing atom A as the arrows show. 
Let atom A at the time of rotary motion fall by the force of 
gravity on atom B; at their contact the irregularities agree in 
such a way that either projection a on atom A falls in the hol- 
low b of atom B as in Fig. 2, or it will be on projection d of 
atom J3, as Fig. 3 shows. In the first case the projection a of 
atom A on rising from the hollow b should ascend projection / 
of Fig. 4 so that atoms A and B recede from each other through 
a distance gf or ab in that insignificant period of time in which 
the oppositely tending directions of these surfaces of atoms 
A and B pass over the arc ga. In the second case the atoms at 
the point of contact proceed beside each other until projection 
a of atom A falls into the hollow c of atom B (Fig. 3). Then 
indeed everything follows as it would in the first case. 




Fig. 4 

17 

In this arrangement, since the separate atoms of air have 
weight, then by the force of gravity one atom will necessarily 



210 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 

fall on another. Being in rapid rotation the atoms after contact 
at once fly apart from each other as explained in the preceding 
paragraph. However, since with a great quantity of atoms it 
cannot happen that each will fall on an upper point of the 
surface of the lower atom, therefore because of their repelling 
action they will most often fall on lines more or less inclined 
to the horizontal, and thus the force of elasticity will be dis- 
played in all directions. 

18 

The interaction of atoms is also illustrated by the gyroscope 
with which boys play on ice. Actually, two such gyroscopes, put 
into very rapid rotation, when they slowly approach one an- 
other, after contact rebound very rapidly; this repulsion comes 
from irregularities on their surfaces. The more irregular these 
surfaces at the point of contact, the more rapidly will the gyro- 
scopes rebound. This can occur between two gyroscopes three 
or even four times before their rotation is stopped and they 
fall; this occurs if they cease to be put in motion by the whip. 

19 

Although the theory we have suggested is supported solidly 
enough by reason, yet the evidence will be still clearer for us 
if by its help the particles of air and the effects found in them 
can be so explained that their reasons will be presented plainly 
and with full distinctness. Just that theory is best which not 
only does not contradict any property of the substance for 
whose explanation it has been proposed, but by explaining 
those properties is used as the most convincing evidence con- 
firming them; therefore in what follows we will examine our 
theory, analyzing the most important properties of air and the 
different effects arising from them. 

20 

The atmosphere consists o an infinite number of atoms of 
air of which the lower repel those which lie above them, as 
many as all the other atoms piled up on them right to the 
upper surface of the atmosphere. The further the atoms are 
from the earth, the less will be the force of the atoms pushing 
and weighing upon them which they meet in their upward 
course, so that the upper atoms occupying the very surface of 



211 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 

the atmosphere are carried down only by their own weight and 
being repelled from the next lower ones are then carried up- 
ward as long as the impact received from the repulsion exceeds 
their own weight. But when the latter prevails they again fall 
down, so that they will be repelled by those found lower. Hence 
it follows: 1) that atmospheric air should be rarer, the more it 
is separated from the center of the earth; 2) that air cannot be 
infinitely rarefied, for there should exist a limit where the 
weight of the upper atoms of air exceeds the force received by 
them from mutual collisions. 

21 

The faster the surfaces of the atoms of air A and B slide over 
the arc ag (Fig. 4), the faster will the atoms themselves pass 
through the distance ab or fg, receding from each other, and 
therefore they will acquire the more speed from the repulsion 
the more strongly the resisting contact of the body acts, and 
thus they will be separated further from each other by the re- 
bound. And since the more rapidly the surfaces move, the 
faster will be the rotation of the atoms of air themselves, and 
as the rotary motion is increased, so will be the heat, 3 so that 
it is not surprising that warmer air has more elastic force. 

22 

Finally, experience shows that the highest degree of cold 
found in winter in countries to the northwest is surpassed by 
the severity of winter in our region, and this in turn yields 
considerably to the severity of the frost in the Yakutsk region 
which binds almost all fluids except air. This discussion leads 
us to the conclusion (as is shown in our Meditations on the 
Cause of Heat and Cold), that nowhere on our earthly sphere 
can there be absolute cold, and therefore nowhere is the rotary 
motion of atoms of air ever fully stopped, and nowhere, evi- 
dently, can air be found without elasticity. 

23 

Sound is produced when some body, set in vibratory motion, 
imparts this motion to the air particles next to it and these 

3. Meditations on heat. 



212 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 

transfer it in a continuous series to the following ones to a 
distance proportional to the strength of the blow. Since most 
atoms of air are not in contact with the distant ones, it is nec- 
essary that each, in order to excite the motion of sound which 
is received from the sounding body in another, should first 
approach the other atom and most of all communicate to it 
a blow expending motion on it in an infinitely small time. 
These infinitely small time intervals with an almost infinite 
number of atoms by successive transfers to much greater dis- 
tances require a considerable interval of time. And hence it 
follows that sound after a blow which produces it will be heard 
afar off after a marked interval of time. 




24 

When air produces pressure on the surface of any body, the 
pores of which are larger than the atoms of air but have a 
diameter less than the space which is ascribed to the vibrating 
atoms, then the atoms of air, due to repulsion, should receive 
their own motion around the opening of the pore. Thus (Fig. 
5) let P be the pore falling between particles A and B on the 
surface of a solid body or even a denser liquid where the air 
is located; let some atom of air strike the particle A from a 



218 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 

onto b and rebound from It to c so that it cuts the line mm; 
let another atom of air strike thus on particle B from d onto 
e and rebound to c so that the line ec makes the angle bee with 
line be. Finally, let other atoms of air strike at points on the 
surface of one or the other particle closer to the pore P at / 
and g so that, rebounding from these particles they describe 
in their paths lines forming angles the apex of which, h, pro- 
jects out from the pore as shown by the lines fh and gh, and 
others are shown more removed from pore P; then all the 
atoms of air which move in the direction of these lines by 
joining and proportionally to the area should repel with great 
force other atoms directed into the pore between the lines nn 
and rr and obstruct the entrance designated by these lines. All 
this is concerned with those atoms which fall perpendicularly 
to the plane of the body, but many, almost all the atoms of air 
which strike at an oblique angle, must of necessity produce a 
similar effect. Actually (Fig. 6) let an atom of air strike particle 
A from a to b; it rebounds from it to c. Then let another atom 
strike the same particle from d to e; it rebounds and strikes 
particle B at / and finally is reflected in the direction to g. Both 
of these, however, will create pressure against atoms of air di- 
rected straight Into the pore. Therefore it is not surprising that 
air scarcely or not at all penetrates the many bodies whose 
pores, as shown by other results, are larger than the atoms of 
air. Finally it is evident that air is kept the more strongly from 
penetrating into the pores of a body the more the lips are sep- 
arated, as is easily understood from the figure. 




Fig. 6 



214 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 
25 

Sound is propagated by vibratory motion of atoms. But ac- 
cording to our theory, elasticity consists of the same sort of 
disordered motion; therefore we can ask why we do not hear 
a continuous sound from the continuously vibrating atoms of 
elastic air. To this we answer that sound comes to the ear 
through the eardrum, set in motion by the force of air; when 
it is at rest this does not occur. But since the eardrum under- 
goes the action of the same vibrating air from both sides, air 
which fills the cavity which the eardrum closes both externally 
and internally, then, being in equilibrium it does not vibrate 
by any motion, and a sensible sound is not impressed on It. 
But when this equilibrium is destroyed, there arises motion of 
the eardrum and a sound is heard. Therefore if we bring to 
the ear a solid, hollow vessel, then the vibrations of the atoms 
of elastic air, rebounding from the walls of the vessel, are con- 
centrated and react on the eardrum more strongly than the 
blows of the atoms enclosed in the inner cavity, thus setting 
the latter in motion and communicating to the ear some con- 
fused sound. Since this sound is always perceived if we bring 
to the ear a concave object, it is evident that in elastic air the 
atoms are continuously moved by a vibratory motion. 

26 

Air can remain elastic as long as there exists a reason for 
the elasticity, that is, reciprocal blows of the atoms. On the 
other hand, if this action for any reason stops, then by neces- 
sity the elasticity of the air should be nullified. Therefore if 
the atoms of air singly or several together are so held in the 
space between the strongly cohering particles of a body that 
they can neither destroy the cohesion of these particles nor act 
mutually on each other, then certainly that air should lack 
elasticity. On the other hand, if the cohesion of the particles 
stops for this body, then the atoms of air leaving by themselves 
regain the property of elasticity. And If the particles of the 
body which keep the air captive in the pores have a less diam- 
eter than those spaces through which the atoms of air run at 
each vibration, then the air liberated from the pores expands 
into a greater space than is occupied by the body In whose 
pores it was concealed. 



215 



A Theory of the Elastic Force of Air 

27 

All this already long ago was in fact discovered by the illus- 
trious and most deserving in science Robert Boyle, Hermann 
Boerhaave, and later the illustrious Hales; they all without 
exception called air a subtle and elastic material obtained from 
the solution of bodies. And we ourselves carried out many such 
experiments, especially those where on solution of copper in 
aqua fortis we obtained a great amount of elastic fluid which 
we recognized as true air. For in a vessel where this fluid was 
collected we put fixed alkali in the form of a strong water solu- 
tion which absorbed the brown vapor filled with subtle acid 
which rose continuously on solution of the copper; to this some 
authors who feared to call the regenerated air by its true name 
and preferred to speak of some sort of "gas" ascribed the elas- 
ticity of the fluid. Nevertheless, this elastic fluid in the course 
of several weeks retained all the qualities of true air. 

28 

We could here suggest much about air hidden in the pores 
of bodies and varieties which perhaps are new, but since this 
belongs rather to the description of unusual actions of this 
captive air than to showing the reasons for its elasticity, we 
will leave this for a special treatise. 



216 



Supplement to Meditations on the 
Elasticity of Air 

When Loinonosov presented his paper on the elastic force of air to 
the Academy, his Mend and colleague Kichmann pointed out that 
in some respects it was incomplete, especially in its failure to ex- 
plain Boyle's Law. After considering this, Lomonosov on May 29, 
1749, presented his views on this subject to the Academy, and these 
were printed under the title "Supplementuin ad Meditationes de 
vi aeris elastica" in the same volume as his original paper, Novi 
Commentarii Academiae scientiarum imperialis Petropolitanae, I; 
305-312 (1750). The Latin text and Russian translation were printed 
in Collected Works, II (1951), pp. 145-163; and in Selected Works, 
pp. 150-157. 



1 

When we read our meditations on the elasticity of air at a 
session of the Academicians, the illustrious Richmann noted 
that we passed over a very important property of the elasticity 
of air, namely, that in our theory we did not include an ex- 
planation of why the elasticity of air was proportional to its 
density. Then I answered that I passed over this, since I had 
doubts, and I promised to satisfy this position in the future. 
These doubts as to this law first arose in me because of the 
disagreement of our theory with this law, and this doubt to 
a great degree was strengthened by the statements of the illus- 
trious Bernoulli. 

2 

Thus, Bernoulli, 1 studying the ejection of balls from can- 
nons, showed that either elastic air from the puff which is 
produced by ignited gunpowder is not ordinary air, or that 
elasticity rises in greater proportion than the density; for the 
density of air generated by burning gunpowder cannot exceed 
by more than a thousand times the density of ordinary air, 

L Hydrodynamics, p. 243. 



217 



Meditations on the Elasticity of Air 

even if the powder were all composed of compressed air which 
was contained in the powder from the specific weight. He even 
asserted that the elasticity of this air would have to be still 
greater if all the powder taken for explosion in the cannon 
burned in one instant. 

3 

That this air is true atmospheric air we have shown in an- 
other place. 2 Whether it is to be asserted that the elasticity of 
air is proportional to its density will be apparent if it becomes 
possible from other specially carried out experiments to draw 
conclusions similar to those of Bernoulli himself and to con- 
firm them. For this purpose we have considered most suitable 
those experiments in which strongly compressed air, acting on 
the vessel which contains it, breaks it, and from the resistance 
we can determine the elastic force and compare it to the vol- 
ume. 

4 

As is well known, water going to ice increases in volume and 
with great force breaks the vessel which contains it; there is 
no doubt that this is produced by the air liberated from the 
pores of the water at the moment of freezing, which collects 
in bubbles. For the study of this we have been busy preparing 
several hollow glass spheres of different sizes, fitted with thick 
walled tubes with narrow openings [Figs. 1, 2, 3, 4]; these were 





Figs. 14 

set out filled with water in strong cold which was violent this 
winter. 3 The part of the water which froze, covering the walls 

2. In the Meditations themselves ( 27) and in a separate dissertation which 
we have prepared [Dissertation on the Origin and Nature of Niter, 49]. 

3. 1749. 



218 



Meditations on the Elasticity of Air 

of the hollow sphere with a crust of ice, broke several of the 
spheres, except those whose openings were not fully plugged 
up by water frozen earlier and in which from the pressure of 
the internal ice an ice cylinder d was pushed out from the 
opening. Breakage was complete in different directions, but 
most often along the length of the tube as shown in Figs. 2, 
3, 4 by the lines mm. After breaking, the residual water ran 
out and left the hollow c 



The largest of the glass cylinders which we used had a diam- 
eter of 26 lines of the Paris Royal foot [58.5 mm], the diam- 
eter of the cavity was 8 lines, the ice crust had a thickness of 
about ly% lines (it was impossible to measure it with the nec- 
essary exactness because of the irregularities which were pro- 
duced, mostly on the inner part of the crust by rapid freezing 
to the crust itself of residual water flowing out of the cavities; 
this increased the thickness of the crust; we have taken here 
the greatest measured thickness). Therefore the diameter of 
the cavity within the crust was 5 lines. From this, calculation 
shows that the area of breaking, not counting the tube, was 
480 square lines; the area of the great circle which the largest 
sphere should have formed by the ice crust was 41 square lines. 
A glass cylinder 25/100 of a Rhenish inch [6.54 mm] in cross 
section broke at a load of 150 pounds, 4 whence we can calculate 
that a glass cylinder having a diameter of 1 Paris Royal inch 
should break at 2572 pounds; and hence a cylinder whose area 
of breaking was 480 square lines would require for breaking 
about 10,925 pounds. 

6 

If the water in the glass spheres were completely frozen, then 
the breaking force of the ice would be calculated from the area 
of the circle made by halving the entire cavity, but since un- 
frozen water remains in the middle and therefore does not give 
up its air and does not act on the glass, the acting force should 
be calculated from the area of the greatest circle of the sphere 
forming the ice crust, and this area equalled 41 square lines. 
A column of mercury equal in weight to the aerial one and 

4. Muschenbroek in Notes ad experiment Academiae del Cimento. 



219 



Meditations on the Elasticity of Air 

based on 41 square lines, 28 inches high, weighs 40,242 grains, 
that is 4 pounds and 3378 grains. Hence, if the water frozen 
in the crust were completely composed of air, this latter would 
or should be compressed about 1/2521 parts of the space oc- 
cupied by it in the atmosphere in order to be in a state to 
break this sphere. From this, if the density of the air were pro- 
portional to the elasticity, then the water itself would be made 
Zi/2 times specifically heavier when it was converted to ice, but 
since this does not occur, then it is clear that our conclusion 
fully agrees with that of Bernoulli, 

7 

I will say frankly that suspicion arises as to the material of 
the glass, for it could break from sudden cooling and without 
freezing of the water in the hollow of the sphere. But the ex- 
periment was repeated with two other glass spheres filled with 
water and placed in the frost, always with the same success, 
while many other similar glass spheres filled or not filled with 
water placed in the cold simultaneously with the first remained 
unbroken. The diameter of one sphere was 18 lines, the hollow 
5% lines, thickness of the ice crust 1 line; the diameter of 
the second was 17 lines, hollow 5i/ 2 lines, thickness of ice crust 
y^ line. 

8 

Incidentally, our illustrious colleague Richmann, in the 
same frost, made experiments on compressing air by the force 
of cold in a bomb which was broken by the force of freezing 
water. We measured one bomb; it had a diameter of 94 Paris 
lines, middle diameter of the hollow was 60 lines, thickness of 
the ice crust 4 lines, and so the diameter of the water which 
was not frozen at the moment of breaking was 52 lines. Since 
this experiment from all points of view fully agrees with those 
which we made ourselves, it can very well be used for our 
argument. 

9 

We take the strength of the cast iron from which the bomb 
was made as the average between the strength of iron and glass, 
since in cast iron glassy particles are mixed with the iron ones. 
Since it follows from the experiments of Muschenbroek that 



220 



Meditations on the Elasticity of Air 

the strength of glass is to the strength of iron as 24 to 450, 
then the average will be 237 so that the force required to break 
the bomb will be 90410534 pounds. A cubic inch of mercury 
weighs 5048 grains; hence a column of mercury having a weight 
equal to an air column with a cross sectional area equal to the 
great circle of the ice crust formed in the sphere will be 
1,375,159 grains or about 150 pounds. Hence for breaking the 
bomb, if the whole ice crust were composed of compressed air, 
the latter should be 6000 times more dense than atmospheric 
air and the ice crust more than six times heavier than itself. 

10 

Water under the bell of an air pump, on removal of the ex- 
ternal air, evolves much more air than is driven out by frost 
from freezing water and collected in bubbles which break the 
vessel. Hence it is clear that air contained in water does not 
regain all its elasticity on freezing and thus does not all act on 
the vessel which contains it. If all the air could act, there would 
be a much more considerable effect from this itself or the same 
from a lesser amount of ice. Thus, from these circumstances, 
perfectly analogous to those described by the illustrious Ber- 
noulli, 5 it also follows that the density of air with great com- 
pression is not proportional to its elasticity. Here also is added 
the finding of Muschenbroek 6 that when air is brought to a 
volume of less than a quarter it does not further obey the ordi- 
nary laws, but shows a greater resistance to the force com- 
pressing it. Let us see how this follows from our theory. 



Let A and B be two masses of air of equal weight and the 
interval of vibration between the corpuscles of mass A relate 
to the interval of vibration of the corpuscles of mass B as a to 
a-b; then the volume of mass B will be related to the volume 
of mass A as a 3 : (a-&) 3 . Since therefore the spheres of air vibrate 
more often, the less the space of vibration, then the frequency 
of the blows will be inversely proportional to this space. Hence 
the frequency of the blows between all the spheres of aerial 

5. Hydrody., p. 242. 

6. Elem. p hys., Chap. 36, 794. 



221 



Meditations on the Elasticity o Air 

mass A in all three dimensions will be related to the similar 
frequency of blows between all the spheres of aerial mass B as 
(a-6) 3 : a 3 . But since when mutual blows of the aerial spheres 
occur more often, their repulsion from each other should be 
stronger and the elasticity of the air should be greater, then 
the elasticity of the aerial mass A will be related to the elas- 
ticity of aerial mass B as (a-b}* : a 3 , so that the elasticity of air 
will be inversely proportional to its volume, or, what is the 
same thing, proportional to Its density. 

12 

This would be perfectly true if the aerial spheres B and C, 
moving back and forth (Fig. 5), rebounding after each blow, 
would always collide directly with some of the nearest spheres 



D 

o-- 



A 






.JO 



A and did not frequently fly past through the spaces between 
them to other encounters with more distant spheres, in which 
case the blows should occur more rarely and the above relation 
would be modified. But since it is evident that this hypothesis is 
impossible, then in fact another reason must intervene. It con- 
sists in this and depends upon this: it is possible, we assert, to 
find variations in vibration by careful study. 

13 

No one doubts that aerial corpuscles B and C after colliding 
more often pass rapidly through the spaces AA untouched by 



222 



Meditations on the Elasticity of Air 

a corpuscle of A, and the diameter of the corpuscles of air have 
a greater ratio to the spaces of vibration, the more the air is 
compressed. Further, taking all the vibrations together, infinite 
in number, we can come to the ratio of the number of vibra- 
tions coming from blows on the nearest particles of A to the 
number of vibrations in which the spheres through the spaces 
AA collide in their motion with more distant spheres D. This 
ratio equals the ratio of the number of air particles which can 
be accommodated between the spheres A on the surface of the 
larger sphere described by the semicircle AFAB to the number 
of spheres A, each of which is separated from the other as much 
as it is from the center JB. On increasing the density of the air 
the spheres A are closer to each other, lessening the distance 
between them and showing a less number of vibrations on un- 
touched spheres A and therefore the ratio of the number of 
vibrations in which the spheres pass out through intervals AA 
and strike the more distant spheres D to the number of vibra- 
tions by which the nearest spheres A are struck is lessened. 
Hence with the greater frequency of blows occurring from the 
lessened reciprocal distances of the air spheres (11) is also com- 
bined the fact that, due to the lessened size of the space AA 
between the nearest spheres of air, they will more often receive 
the blows on themselves and by this the resistance of the elas- 
ticity of the air is increased above the ratio given in 11. Then 
on compression of air, when the space of vibration is made 
less than the diameter of the spheres, all meetings of the 
spheres will be only with the nearest spheres A since they can- 
not penetrate through the intervals AA without striking the 
sphere A. Hence it is evident how the elasticity of air should 
differ in relation to density when it is most compressed. 



223 



On the Relation of the Amount of 

Material and Weight 

In a long letter to Leonhard Euler, written on July 5, 1748 (Latin 
and Russian texts in Collected Works, II (1951), pp. 169-193, and 
Russian text in Selected Works, pp. 122-133), Lomonosov gave a 
detailed exposition of his views on the relationship of mass to 
weight. As the letter indicated, he had been led to consider this 
matter while preparing his essays on the nature of niter and the 
elasticity of air. Thus his views on this subject belong to the same 
period as that in which he developed most of his corpuscular ideas. 
However, he did not publish these views and did not even embody 
them in a scientific paper. In 1755 the Russian Academy considered 
offering a prize for the best essay on the subject of the proportion- 
ality of the material of a substance to its weight. Although this 
plan was later withdrawn, Lomonosov was stimulated by the offer 
to put his ideas in more formal terms. He presented a paper on 
the subject to the Academy on January 30, 1758. The paper was 
then deposited in the archives of the Academy and remained un- 
discovered until 1908. It is evident that Lomonosov did not change 
his ideas greatly between 1748 and 1758, since much of this paper 
is a word for word repetition of his letter to Euler. The Latin and 
Russian texts are given in Collected Works, III (1952), pp. 349-371, 
and the Russian version appears in Selected Works, pp. 318-326. 



Whenever we consider the great number of different opin- 
ions on the phenomena of nature, we cannot see without some 
sadness of spirit that after such strenuous efforts of notable 
men, after such glorious discoveries of so many physical phe- 
nomena, up to now there is no satisfactory explanation espe- 
cially of that part of natural science which studies the quality 
of bodies originating in the most minute parts, unavailable to 
the visual senses. But this will seem less surprising when we 
consider that the very first principles of mechanics and of 
physics itself are still controversial and that most of the famous 
scholars of our century cannot agree about this. A very clear 
example is the measure of the force of motion which one in- 



224 



On the Relation of Material and Weight 

dividual takes as a simple, another as a squared relation to 
the velocity. 

Such controversies raise the question of whether there is a 
relation of the heaviness of a body to the real measure of the 
amount of its material. 

Although many consider this established, and most scholars 
take as an axiom the proposition: as is the quantity of a ma- 
terial body, so is its weight, yet there are many circumstances 
which speak against this and are so significant that they deserve 
the attention of the learned world. 

Actually this position is without question for homogeneous 
bodies. But we have never found sufficient evidence that it 
applies to heterogeneous bodies; and if we take it as true, then 
it is seen that it is not only insufficient to explain the facts of 
nature, but in many cases even is an obstacle, as will be clearly 
shown in what follows. 

We express full agreement when we read in Newton that air 
of doubled density in a doubled space is quadrupled, in a 
tripled one sextupled, and we think the same for snow or 
powder made dense by compression or brought into the liquid 
state. But we do not consider it possible to agree uncondi- 
tionally with the general position expressed thus, that mass is 
signified by the weight of each body y since we cannot make 
inferences from the particular to the general, and there is no 
necessity that what is true for homogeneous bodies must also 
hold for heterogeneous ones. There is no doubt that in one 
pound of gold the material is half that in two pounds of the 
same, but there is doubt that for one pound of water and two 
pounds of gold the same relation applies. Although in another 
place in Newton there is given proof of the theorem that 
amounts of material are related to each other as the weights, 
yet all this proof depends on the hypothesis of Newton that 
an ethereal fluid either does not exist or is so rarefied that with 
respect to resistance it can be considered as nothing; thus in 
the very beginning of the proof he confuses the material of a 
moving body and its resistance; this however is not the case 
on a contrary assumption. Actually, assuming a dense ether 
surrounding all bodies and the least particles of bodies, we 
can in no way decide and determine exactly how much resis- 
tance must be ascribed to the intrinsic material of the moving 



225 



On the Relation of Material and Weight 

body and how much to the resistance of the ether. Finally let 
us assume that the amount of material is proportional to the 
weight; we take any sort of body on the surface of the earth 
whose weight is p, material m. Let this body be carried above 
the earth to a height, for example, of half its diameter; the 
weight of the body by the inverse square ratio to the distance 
from the center of the earth will equal p : 4, and the material, 
on account of the same ratio with the weight will equal m : 4, 
according to the hypothesis; hence we have m = m : 4, that is, 
the whole will be equal to its parts and one and the same 
thing will not be equal to itself. It is true that the hypothesis 
admitted by all can be used without danger of error in ordi- 
nary mechanics, which is concerned with large bodies, tangible 
to the senses, and the statement here noted does not destroy 
the relation of resistance and weight in a reasonably small 
space. Evidently, however, we cannot introduce this carelessly 
in explaining the facts which depend on the finest particles of 
natural bodies. But how the papers of physicists neglect the 
shapes of the corpuscles so as to satisfy the hypothesis pre- 
sented above! We can find not a few such assumptions which 
do not agree with the brilliant simplicity of nature and often 
contradict one another with reference to the same body. 

It is appropriate here to illustrate these doubts by examples. 
There are bodies, very different in specific gravity which have 
qualities which cause strong doubts of the truth of the accepted 
hypothesis. We find such bodies when we compare gold and 
water. Actually, although water is almost twenty times 
specifically lighter than gold, yet no external force, however ap- 
plied, compresses it to lesser volume. Therefore it is very prob- 
able that the cohering particles of water material touch each 
other directly, for penetrating material, if such were found 
between the touching particles of cohering material, would 
yield to the least pressure. Hence it follows that the positions 
of the particles of both bodies are very close. Therefore, in 
order to save the hypothesis it is necessary to fall back on dif- 
ferent sizes or shapes of the corpuscles. Their different sizes 
can in no way cause differences in density of both bodies if 
the arrangement and the shapes of the particles are the same 
in both. For the size of the particles is increased or decreased 
proportionally and the spaces are empty of the cohering mate- 
rial of the bodies. 



226 



On the Relation of Material and Weight 
Thus, if we wish to assert that the amount of a material 
body is proportional to its heaviness, it remains only to fall 
back on different shapes. In order that the density of material 
in bodies be greatest, the most suitable shape of the corpuscles 
will be a cube. Thus let us assume that the particles of gold 
have such a form (although its pores, open to water itself if 
this is saturated with salts, and also the ductility of this metal 
prevent ascribing exactly cubic particles to it). But what shape 
shall we give to the water corpuscles? If we assume they con- 
sist of solid spheres (as the majority of physicists consider most 
probable), then the quantity of material in the gold will be 
greater by about two fold and not twenty fold. If we assume 
in each sphere a hollow cavity with a solid shell which is ten 
times greater, so that the cavity and spherical corpuscle of 
water will be to the solid cube of gold in density of material 
about 1 to 20, then the thickness of the shell of the water 
corpuscle will hardly be more than one sixtieth part of the 
diameter of its cavity. Under these conditions water will con- 
sist of the finest bubbles which can scarcely show resistance to 
even the weakest pressure, whereas water, pressed by the great- 
est force, rather penetrates into the narrowest pores of metals 
than sustains any damage to its volume, and when, at the 
moment of freezing of water, air collects in small bubbles from 
its pores by the strong cold and appears with very great elas- 
ticity, then the strongest bomb breaks rather than that the 
water yields any of its space. Actually, evidently, nature best 
provides for the strength of corpuscles which are designed to 
resist such forces. And if, as is evident, the hollows of the 
spherical corpuscles of water material assumed here correspond 
little with the incompressibility of water, then another type of 
shape which could be devised in support of the hypothesis 
which has raised doubts would be still less suitable, since it 
would also contradict the simplicity, tastelessness, and trans- 
parency of water. Thus, if on the basis o the indestructible 
density and the mobility of water particles we consider with 
sufficient probability that they are spheres, then we cannot 
accept as cubic the particles of gold, penetrated by so many 
pores; if then we assume, as was said, in both bodies the same 
very close arrangement of particles, we finally have sufficiently 
weighty reasons for increasingly doubting this hypothesis. In 
the same way we can discuss many other bodies, for example 



227 



On the Relation of Material and Weight 

the diamond and mercury, in which also the hardness of bodies 
is connected with the density of their materials. Thus it is very 
evident that if we assume the correctness of this hypothesis, 
then the diamond, a body of such amazing hardness, such den- 
sity and stability that nothing else is known to be a solvent 
to penetrate its pores and the very strongest fire cannot melt it, 
consists of material about four times lighter than that which 
makes up mercury, a liquid permeable to many solvents and 
volatile. But, perhaps, we have already shown sufficiently the 
objections to the proposed hypothesis, for it is first of all in- 
sufficiently proved, and second is filled with many difficulties. 
But the examples given are not alone in speaking against it; 
we find more when we study the reasons for gravity. 

No one doubts that phenomena and their consequences be- 
come clearer and more understandable when their reasons are 
known; therefore it is certain that if we understand the reasons 
for gravity, we will be able to explain differences in specific 
gravities of bodies. Hence it is necessary, since this is an urgent 
question, to say what, in general, is the reason for gravity. 

However, we will not at this time enter into a quarrel with 
those who attribute gravity of a body to its actual attributes 
and therefore do not find it necessary at all to study its causes; 
but we consider it certain that motion and in general the 
tendency in a definite direction, as also with gravity, since it 
is a definite form of motion, can be absent in a body without 
harm to the existence of the latter; the same can be true for 
the quantity of motion which arises from the increased rate 
of fall of a body. Thus, since there should exist a sufficient 
basis for the fact that a sensible body naturally tends rather 
to the center of the earth than that it does not so tend, then 
we must study the cause of gravity. It should arise either from 
a blow or from mutually attractive forces. That a body moves 
under the influence of a blow no one doubts; pure attraction 
remains under question and there are sufficiently convincing 
reasons which speak against its occurrence in the nature of 
substances. First of all, if there exists a pure attractive force 
in a body, then it is necessary to assume that it is innate in it 
for nothing else than the production of motion; but it is known 
to everyone that the motion of a body is produced by blows: 
hence it is shown that for the production of the same result 



228 



On the Relation of Material and Weight 

there are two causes in nature, and that here one contradicts 
the other. Actually, what could be more contradictory to pure 
attraction than a simple blow? But no one can deny that the 
most clearly contradictory causes should produce also the most 
contradictory results (let no one bring against this as an exam- 
ple the contradiction that animals are killed in the same way 
by heat and cold, for here I do not imply remote reasons, which 
can be numerous, but very similar ones which should be 
unique for each result; thus the most immediate reason for 
death is stopping the motion of the blood and other fluids of 
the animal body). Therefore, if pure attraction excites motion 
in a body, then a blow is the reason for rest, which is false for 
in fact a blow excites motion; this means that if attraction does 
not excite motion, then it does not exist at all. Finally, let us 
assume that in a body pure attractive force exists; then body 
A will attract another body B, that is, move it without any sort 
of blow; this means it is not required that body A strike body B 
and so there is no need that it move toward it and since its 
other movements in which there would be no direction could 
not have any significance for setting body B in motion, then it 
would follow from this that body A, found at full rest, could 
move body B and the latter would move to body A. Hence 
something new would be added to it, just this motion to body 
A, which had not previously existed in it. But all the changes 
met in nature occur in such a way that if something is added to 
something, then this is taken away from something else. Thus, 
as much material is added to some body as is lost to another; 
as many hours as I spend in sleep, so many I take away from 
wakefulness, etc. Since this is a general law of nature, it applies 
also to the laws of motion, and a body which by its blow excites 
another to motion loses as much of its own motion as it gives 
to the other body which is moved by it. Thus, by virtue of this 
law, the addition of motion to body B in the direction of body 
A is taken away from where body B acquired this motion, that 
is, from body A. But since we cannot take away from any body 
that which is not in it, then it is necessary that body A is moved 
when it attracts body B. But since it is seen from the above 
that body A is at rest when it attracts body B, it is seen to be 
absurd that the same thing at once is and is not. Thus, since 
pure attraction cannot exist, therefore gravity should be pro- 



229 



On the Relation of Material and Weight 

duced by a blow, and there should exist a material which 
pushes a heavy body toward the center of the earth. In a heavy 
body the finest particles are heavy and have weight, whence it 
is evident that the gravitational material also acts on the finest 
particles, freely penetrating into their narrowest pores, and 
therefore it should be very fluid. In order to show its force with 
respect to the heavy body it should strike the finest particles, 
but it can only strike on particles extended and impermeable 
to it. Hence it follows that a heavy body consists of very minute 
particles, impenetrable to the gravity material, which acts only 
on their surfaces. Thus, if body A equals body B in extension 
and density of material, and the corpuscles of body A on whose 
surface the gravity material acts are larger than the corpuscles 
of body B, then body A will be specifically lighter than body B. 
Actually, let the diameter of one corpuscle of body A equal d, 
its circumference equal p; then its surface will equal dp. Fur- 
ther, let the diameter of the corpuscle of body B equal d e; 
its circumference will equal (d-e)p : d, its surface (defp : d. 
Then let the number of corpuscles of body A equal a. Since 
body A equals body B in extent and density of materials and 
the corpuscles of both have the same shape and arrangement 
(by the hypothesis), then the number of corpuscles of body A 
will relate to the number of corpuscles of body B as the cube 
of the diameter of the corpuscles of body B to the cube of the 
diameter of the corpuscles of body A; that is, as a : ad? / 
(de}* s so that the sum of the surfaces of the corpuscles of body 
A will be to the sum of the surfaces of the corpuscles of body 
B as adp ad* / (de) B X (defp : d = a/d : a/d : a/de* 

Thus the sum of the surfaces of corpuscles of body A is less 
than the sum of the surfaces of the corpuscles of body B (by the 
demonstration); therefore the gravity fluid will show more ac- 
tion on body B than on body A. But in both the density of the 
material is the same (by the hypothesis); hence the amount of 
material will not be proportional to the weight. This is de- 
duced from the different mass of the corpuscles; the same thing 
is deduced if we ascribe to the corpuscles of different bodies 
different shapes also. Thus, if we wish to signify that the weight 



1. NJB. Instead of ajd : a\d-e, it should be 1 : a/d-e, or a : adjd-e, or 
d-e : d. 



230 



On the Relation of Material and Weight 
of a body is proportional to the density of its material, then 
we should either assume that the particles of all bodies im- 
permeable to the gravity fluid in general have one and the 
same mass and shape, or we should deny this fluid. The first 
is contradicted by the astonishing differences in the bodies of 
nature, which urgently requires that the particles of different 
bodies have different shapes or, in the highest measure, mass; 
the second contradicts the existence, so very probable, of a 
gravity material and leads to the defense of occult qualities. 
Besides this, it is important to consider that if we assume a 
visible world, full of materials, then we should also assume 
imponderable materials; otherwise all bodies could not be 
lifted up or descend by the force of gravity in an ethereal fluid. 
If we accept imponderable materials, then, passing from the 
greater to the less, it is necessary to conclude that there exist 
different materials which yield to other materials in specific 
gravity, which also follows from the analogy to other qualities 
which are possessed by sensible bodies. Of course, light can be 
taken from a body, and so can also be lessened in degree of 
intensity; the same holds for sound, taste, and many other 
qualities. 

On the basis of these ideas we assume that the specific gravity 
of a body is changed proportionally to the surface opposing 
the gravity material which cannot penetrate its corpuscles; in 
this case not only will all the difficulties mentioned above be 
removed, but, evidently, there will even be discovered a wide 
path for the best explanation of very many phenomena and 
also for the study of the finest corpuscles. Actually we assume 
that the sum of the surfaces of corpuscles of gold is almost 
twenty times greater than the sum of the surfaces of water 
corpuscles in the same volume; it is shown that gold is almost 
twenty times heavier than water at the same density of material. 
Here let it not be objected that the pores of gold, due to the 
fineness of its corpuscles should be so narrow that the cor- 
puscles of water, which due to its lesser weight has a greater 
size, and even particles of aqua regia could not penetrate them. 
Experiment shows that aqua regia enters only into those pores 
of gold which are found between the mixed corpuscles of this 
metal, which consists of different sorts of principles between 
which aqua regia cannot penetrate; otherwise the aqua regia 



231 



On the Relation of Material and Weight 

would break up the component parts of gold and hence destroy 
it completely. Further, by the help of this theory we completely 
deny the well-known opinion that fire remains fixed in calcined 
bodies. Actually, though there is no doubt that particles of 
air continuously flowing over the calcined body mix with the 
latter and increase its weight, yet if we take into account the 
experiments made in closed vessels which do not admit of 
doubt, in which the weight of the calcined body is also in- 
creased, then we can answer that due to destruction of the co- 
hesion of the particles by calcination their surfaces, previously 
covered by mutual contact, freely undergo the action of the 
gravity fluid; therefore the bodies themselves are more strongly 
drawn toward the center of the earth. Finally, there occurs the 
not unimportant basic assumption that if there is a real opinion 
countering the generally accepted hypothesis, then it will be 
easier to study the relative sizes of the particles in different 
bodies on the basis of different weights and cohesions; and hence 
a great light will be cast on corpuscular philosophy which we 
can judge in our century to be so neglected, being convinced 
that the science of the finest particles from which come the 
particular qualities of sensible bodies is as important in physics 
as the particles themselves are necessary to create bodies and 
produce particular qualities. 



232 



Meditations on the Solidity and Liquidity 
of Bodies 

Beginning in 1747, Lomonosov carried on a series of experiments 
on cold, both alone and with his colleagues in the academy. These 
culminated in the freezing of mercury in a freezing mixture by 
Academician I. A. Braun on December 14, 1759, Lomonosov was 
closely associated with Braun in the work, which attracted wide 
attention throughout Europe, and he subsequently carried on a 
number of similar experiments himself. This work led him to a 
series of speculations on the freezing of bodies, and in August 1760 
he set these down in a paper, which he presented in Russian to 
the Academy of Sciences on September 6, 1760. In this he also 
described some of the actual experiments on freezing mercury. The 
paper was soon issued in Russian as a separate publication by the 
Academy, and a Latin translation quickly followed, also as a sep- 
arate book. The Russian and Latin texts have been published in 
Collected Works, III (1952), pp. 377-409, and the Russian text is in 
Selected Works., pp. 327-341. The Russian text, as written by 
Lomonosov himself, differs slightly from the Latin version and is a 
little longer. The following translation is from the Russian text. 



1 

Everyone knows how much the solidity and liquidity of 
bodies depend on differences of heat and cold. Now when the 
partner in our studies, Professor Braun, has presented a report 
on his artificial freezing of mercury in the past severe winter 
and has explained his experiments, I consider it proper to 
present my own thoughts on the cause for cohesion in various 
bodies, so that we may more clearly obtain an idea of the freez- 
ing and thawing of sensible bodies when they become solid or 
liquid and thus by describing our work publically, to express 
our most humble reverence on this festive occasion. 

2 

In studying the general reasons for the cohesion of particles, 
I should first of all appeal to those who have not been inter- 



233 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 

ested in this and have been satisfied with the Idea of one 
attractive force, accepting this without believing In some kind 
of a blow. Therefore, I assert that no one can fail to acknowl- 
edge and accept what I will so firmly demonstrate, which, 
unless I am deceived, is also new. 



If there really were an attractive force, it would have to be 
Innate In a body as a reason for the production of motion. But 
motion Is also produced In a body by striking or repelling, 
which is clear to everyone. Why should there be two directly 
opposite reasons, and a quarrel between them, for the produc- 
tion of one action; for what can be more contrary to attraction 
than repulsion? From directly opposite causes opposite actions 
should be produced. Here is a feeble argument which ap- 
parently seems, for instance, to be urged against this: that 
animals are killed equally by heat and cold; but these reasons 
are essentially separate, and there can sometimes be opposition 
between them, but the immediate and direct cause of death is 
the suppression of flow and circulation of the blood and other 
vital fluids. One direct reason was stated by Newton himself, 
who did not accept attractive forces in his lifetime, but after 
his death was made their unwilling defender by the overly 
great zeal of his followers. Thus, if an attracting force produces 
motion in bodies, then motion cannot be produced by a blow 
or repulsion. But this is completely false, since repulsion truly 
produces motion and hence it is not true and undoubted that 
there Is an attractive force in bodies. 

4 

If we still concede that there is in bodies a true attractive 
force, then body A attracts to itself another body B, that is, 
moves it without any blow, and for this there is no need that A 
adheres to B and hence It is not necessary that A moves to B; 
but as another motion of body A in another direction to the 
motion of body B is not necessary, it follows that A, being en- 
tirely without any motion, moves J5. Thus B obtains for itself 
something new, namely, motion toward A which before was 
not In it. But all changes occurring in nature are of such a state 
that as much as Is taken away from one body, so much is joined 



234 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 
to another; thus, if we decrease some material we add it in 
another place; as many hours as one devotes to wakefulness, so 
many hours are taken away from sleep. This general natural 
law extends in very truth to motion, for a body moving another 
by its force loses in itself as much as it communicates to another 
which obtains motion from it. Hence, by this general law the 
motion transmitted to body B is taken away from body A. But 
as nothing can be taken away where nothing is, it is necessary 
for this that body A be in motion when it attracts another 
body B to itself. It follows from the above that body A must be 
without any motion when it attracts another body B to itself. 
And therefore body A can be in motion and stand perfectly 
quiet at the same time. But as this contradicts itself and opposes 
the general philosophical statement that one and the same sub- 
stance at one time can and cannot be, for the sake of truth and 
certainty an attractive force cannot occur in nature. 

5 

Thus it follows that the particles of which sensible bodies 
consist, due to a blow, or more properly speaking, due to com- 
pression, force out by their mutual cohering contact some 
fluid which surrounds their material. Therefore it is necessary 
to consider how this fluid material is squeezed out in the co- 
hering of particles which compose the body and thus briefly to 
explain the properties of solids and liquids. 



Does not someone here ask that I show what is the material 
or how the cohesion of its particles compresses the corpuscles 
of the liquid which surrounds them? Would not he say that I 
am now obliged to recognize the existence of attractive forces? 
By no means. Everyone who knows the difference between the 
requirements for the essential attributes of bodies and for 
changes in their qualities will be able to see clearly that the 
reasons for these cannot be demonstrated nor should we ask 
what must be in substances for their existence: for example, 
why a triangle has three sides, why a body has extension, and 
similar questions. Thus the cause of cohesion should be sought 
where we see that insensible particles cohere or are free from 
cohering bonds or increase or decrease the force of their co- 



255 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 

herence. Then we can ask why this is so, and in no other way. 
Nor do we recognize changes in the union of the insensible 
particles which compose bodies, and the reasons for this also 
should not be asked. A philosophical principle, called a satis- 
factory reason^ does not extend to the essential attributes of a 
body. From such incorrect usage comes the discussion, so un- 
real in the light of scholarship, of simple substances, that is, of 
particles which do not have any extension. If extension is an 
essential attribute of a body, without which this body cannot 
exist, and almost all the virtue of the body consists in extension, 
then questions and quarrels concerning the nonextensive par- 
ticles of an extensive body are futile; as the best method in 
such a case we should seek proof of the definition instead of 
finding a proof drawn from the definition. 

7 

Considering the planes of contact of the particles, I see at 
once many with different numbers of shapes, which many 
physicists unsuccessfully ascribe to insensible particles. Yet 
their purpose is praiseworthy, for it is as necessary to study the 
principles of bodies as to have the principles themselves. Since 
a body cannot exist without insensible particles, the deepest 
study of physics by scholars is impossible without them. In an 
hour we can see only the surface, but with time we can know 
how and by what forces they are moved, separated into equal 
and different parts. Physicists and especially chemists would be 
in the dark if they did not know the structure of the internal 
insensible parts. Therefore I do not allow myself to be counted 
among the hopeless ones who are called careful physicists but 
are not pleased at the knowledge of the shapes of insensible 
particles. I am not repelled from studying particles which es- 
cape the view because of their smallness, unavailable to physi- 
cal apparatus because of imaginary shapes of the particles: 
wedges, needles, hooks, rings, bubbles, and many others chosen 
without any basis, for in twenty years of frequent discussions 
of this and from related experiments I have seen that nature, 
satisfied with sphericity only, eases the task of studying her 
secrets. 

8 

But one thing has displeased me, though in fact it is very 
probable: I was displeased that some intelligent people, most 



236 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 

notable heroes of the learned world, considered the material 
of particles spherical, especially liquids (and all solid bodies 
turned into liquids by the force of fire); I was not satisfied with 
the reasoning by analogy that all natural bodies tended to be 
spheres and preferred this form from the greatest even to the 
smallest, from the chief bodies of this world, as our earth, to 
the finest and simplest spheres invisible to the eye, which make 
up blood. Disregarding the fact that in the parts of animals 
and plants, seeds and fruits have largely a circular form, that 
the more finely divided all liquid materials are, the more cir- 
cular they become, not taking into the discussion the evidence 
from the unnumbered multitude of spherical raindrops, I will 
rest my argument on rigorous mathematics. 



I have shown before this 1 that Aristotelian elementary fire, 
or, according to the new scholarly name, special calorific ma- 
terial, transferred and wandering from body to body, travels 
without the least probable cause and is only a fiction: and I 
assert that fire and heat consist of a rotary motion of particles, 
especially of the material which makes up coherent bodies. I 
have defended my system from unfounded objections, and false 
contradictions have been presented in vain. And above all, new 
results are immovably confirmed. 2 And for this reason without 
hesitation we use this as the basis for proof of the sphericity 
of the insensible particles which compose bodies. 

10 

Thus, when the insensible particles of warm bodies are trans- 
formed into rotary motion, let us assume that the particles of 
warm bodies are not spheres, but some other sort of shape, for 
example, cubic; from this would result the fact that they, rotat- 
ing, are in contact at times with angles. From this it should 
follow: 1) that the cohesion of particles which are solid bodies 
is momentarily changed, for on contact by angles little or 
nothing can hold one to the other; 2) all the diagonals and all 
the lines which form angles to the side of the corpuscles would 
necessarily be longer, so that from moment to moment there 

1. Meditations on the Cause of Heat and Cold, Nov. Comm., Vol. I. 

2, In Oration on the Origin of Light and Color. 



237 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 

should be a change of length in sensible bodies and there 
would be a continuous vibration which would be stronger, the 
wanner the body. But as from the evidence of our senses 
neither of these effects is found in bodies, there are no angular 
shapes or any other which has unequal diameters in warm 
bodies; that is, all shapes are impossible except the spherical. 



All sensible bodies of any shape, put on a balance in equi- 
librium with weights in all positions, remain without fail in 
equilibrium; for example, marble or metallic pyramids placed 
on their bottom or on their ends, on their sides or on the 
angles, never show either increase or decrease in heaviness. 
These experiments, though very simple and known to every- 
on, yet are very important in the present case. We neglect and 
slide past many such simple and everyday effects which in the 
study of nature point the way to great discoveries, and we 
undertake difficult experiments, forgetting the very famous 
statement that is simple and based on irrefutable mathematics, 
that eveiy substance equals its own size., on which almost all 
mathematics is founded. From the above mentioned everyday 
and very simple art, it follows that all particles composing a 
body are in essence spherical shapes. For the action of gravita- 
tional material always and in the same way affects the impene- 
trable surfaces of the corpuscles in any position of these bodies 
and if shapes of the particles were not spherical, then all posi- 
tions of the surface should differ for the gravitational material, 
with different forces and different weights. Thus the particles 
composing bodies through which gravitational material cannot 
pass and only strikes the surface should be spherical, 

12 

Having shown the spherical nature of the particles composing 
sensible bodies, where can we find contact surfaces? For spheres 
do not touch one another except at one point. To answer this 
question satisfactorily it is necessary for me to give a definition 
of the surface of contact (which should better be called the 
surface of cohesion), namely, that it is a circle whose diameter 
is the line BID (Fig. 1) between the particles A and C which 
are in contact, whose periphery is occupied by the very small 



238 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 
spheres B and D of compressed liquid material, not reaching 
to / because of the narrow spaces EFI and GHL Assuming this, 
there will be no compressed material on the cross sections EIG 
and FIH of the spheres A and C, since there is no room. Thus, 
particles A and G, exposed to the compressed fluid on the rest 
of the surface, cohere by the measure of the circle or plane of 
coherence. 

13 

Hence the following rule results: the larger the insensible 
particles composing a body, the stronger is the union, and the 
smaller they are, the weaker it is. When cohering particles are 
spheres, then let the radii of the larger particles (Fig. 1) AB, 
CFj AI, CI = a, the radii EB and BF of the particles of com- 
pressed material = r. Then by construction of the igure it is 
seen that BI is perpendicular to AC; hence jBJ will be 



+ r) 2 a 2 ]. But as AD, DC, AB, BC are equal to each 
other, triangle ADC will = and ~ABC; whence BI = DI; 

therefore BD = 2 VL(* + ^Y * 2 ] = the diameter of the plane 
of cohesion of particles A and C. Then let p be the periphery 
of the circle whose diameter = 1; then the plane of cohesion 
itself will = p V[( a + r ) 2 "" a ^]- Finally, let the radii of the 
lesser particles composing bodies A and C = a e and the 
radii of the particles of compressed material = r. Since the 
rest will happen as shown above, then BD = 2 V[( fl e + r ) 2 
(a e) 2 ] = the diameter of the planes of cohesion of the 
lesser particles, and the plane of cohesion itself p [(a e 
_|_- rf (a e) 2 ]. Thus the plane of cohesion of the larger par- 
ticles will be to the plane of cohesion of the smaller particles 
asp [(a + r) 2 --a 2 ] top [(a tf + r) 2 -- (a ef\ = (a + r) 2 - 
a? to (a e + r) 2 (a e} 2 = r + 2a to r + 2(<z e). By this 
the plane of cohesion of the greater particles will be larger than 
the plane of cohesion of the lesser particles; hence the larger 
the particles, the more strongly they cohere; the smaller they 
are, the more weakly they cohere. 

14 

Thus it is not difficult to conclude from this that if many 
and varied properties are caused by the cohesion of particles, 



239 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 

then by this rule they can be explained by the different sizes 
of the particles in a mixed body. For this reason let the stu- 
dents of nature cease to marvel and doubt that all special 
qualities of bodies can come from particles which have a spheri- 
cal shape only, and especially take into consideration the force 
of cohesion of particles shown in the oration on the origin of 
light and colors. Beyond this, we take as an example an art by 
which from round threads, especially if they have different 
thicknesses, numberless and varied multitudes of tissues and 
networks of substances are produced in excellent designs by 
varying their positions. 

15 

It has already been shown clearly enough how various sizes 
of particles act in producing liquid and solid bodies. Therefore 
it remains to consider how the forces of heat and cold act ex- 
ternally, for differences in size are properties of the particles 
themselves. 

16 

From the system of rotary calorific motion it appears that 
the particles of warm bodies spin faster and with greater force 
and repel each other; 3 therefore the cohesion of these particles 
should become weaker, the greater the warmth or heat in the 
body itself, and so it may be said that they are not only con- 
verted into a liquid, but, losing all interspecific cohesion be- 
tween the particles, and their very contact, they are dispersed 
into a vapor. 

17 

Therefore much less heat motion is required for obtaining 
and keeping bodies liquid if their particles are smaller than 
for those which are larger, and it is not surprising that mercury, 
the fineness and thinness of whose particles have been indicated 
by many chemical and medical experiments, keeps its liquidity 
at very low heats which we by our senses call severe cold and 
strong frost. For, according to the system of calorific motion, 
all bodies have heat as long as the particles are moved by ro- 
tary motion, although they may seem very cold. 

3. See Meditations OB the Cause of Heat and Cold, 23. 



240 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 

18 

In spite of this, bodies of the same nature as mercury, that 
is, metals, have a stronger cohesion between their particles, and 
the larger they are than mercury, the greater is the fire re- 
quired to melt them. The greater size of the particles making 
up metals is clear from this, that mercury enters their pores. 

19 

But there are infinitely many properties and qualities which 
occur in solid and liquid bodies from different cohesions of 
their particles, as different degrees of viscosity, brittleness, soft- 
ness, friability, ductility, elasticity, and others which require 
varied and prolonged consideration and clear understanding by 
the keenest physicists; therefore, leaving these for the future, 
we will discuss only how sensible bodies can be compressed 
or expanded from boiling to freezing, and in very fact, are 
compressed and expanded. 

20 

First we consider speculations on the different positions 
which the particles can occupy because of the spherical shape 
which was established with certainty above. Four spherical par- 
ticles in close contact and a state of cohesion can be inscribed 
in an equilateral rhombic figure, and in a spacial position and 
in contact, this should have the form of a cube. Such equilat- 
eral figures ABCD (Fig. 2) and ABCD (Fig. 3) have the propor- 



tion to each other as AB* to i/ 2 ^/(AB^ + l&C 2 X AB~, that is, 

as AB* is to AB* Vli" = l : VV? = 100 to V^OOOOO because 
AC =1 BC. For such a rhombic body can be divided into two 
equal prisms ADCFBE and ADCFGH having a common square 
side ADCF (Fig. 4). And since the angles ABC and FED are 
right angles, then the half diagonal AC equals the altitude BK 
of the prism ACDFBE or half of all the rhombic body. That 
is, the cubic body to the rhombic body will be almost as 1000 
to 707. 

21 

Hence it follows: 1) as far as these are simple bodies, that is, 
composed of the same particles and without foreign materials 



241 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 

in the pores, they can be expanded and compressed without 
destroying the cohesion, although they can increase and de- 
crease; 2) when particles of foreign material, for example, air, 
are found between them in the pores, the particles cannot at- 
tain to intimate rhombic cohesion and hence cannot always 
attain to such a great crowding as shown above in 20; how- 
ever, they still have sufficient room for compression and ex- 
pansion, and with different amounts of foreign material there 
can be differences in compression and expansion; 3) in the 
cubic form there should be twelve contacts between the eight 
particles, and in the rhombic, eighteen, from which it is not 
surprising that the particles placed in the rhombic form ac- 
quire hardness from it, losing liquidity more strongly when six 
more contacts are established. 

22 

Different bodies show different compressions in experiments. 
In all those which it is possible to measure, it is not difficult 
to carry out freezing and boiling, as in water, in oils, and in 
solutions of different salts. In those bodies in which freezing 
has not yet been found it is impossible to establish the limits 
o attraction. This happened with mercury, for until the last 
winter it had not been frozen and no one hoped for this. But 
now it remains only to check by discussion and experiment 
the disagreements between the observations at what degree be- 
low boiling mercury should freeze. As this can be seen from 
my experiments, I add these here. 

23 

December 26, 1759, when the frost was 208 degrees, I put a 
thermometer in the snow into which I had poured aqua fortis; 
the snow then melted like an oil, as happens close to its melt- 
ing; the mercury in the thermometer dropped to 330 degrees, 
then, still applying new snow, we added spirit of salt; the mer- 
cury sank to 495 degrees; still adding acid, we saw the mercury 
at 534 degrees. On removing the thermometer for a short time 
from the mixture, the mercury reached 552 degrees. Finally as 
we added to newly applied snow the so-called oil of vitriol, in 
an instant the snow was converted into an almost liquid ma- 



242 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 
terial and the mercury sank to 1260 degrees. 4 Thus, not doubt- 
ing that it was already frozen, I quickly struck the sphere with 

a copper compass and the glass shell was shattered and fell 




Figs. 1-7 

4. [This work has been analyzed by V. Ya. Blalyk In Lomonosov, Sbornik 
Statei i Materialov, III (Academy of Sciences Piess, Moscow and Leningrad, 195 1)* 
pp. 52-65. He points out that Lomonosov was here using the Delisle thermometer, 
in which the boiling point of water is 0, the melting point of ice is 
150. Thus the initial temperature of the experiment, 208 Delisle, was about 
38 C, and this is the temperature which Lomonosov recorded for the 
melting point of mercury. The correct value is -38.87. The much lower values 
recorded as more freezing mixture was added are due to the fact that the 
mercury in the bulb of the thermometer began to freeze on the walls of the 
bulb, leaving a core of unfrozen mercury in the middle, in contact with the still 
unfrozen mercury in the stem of the thermometer. As mercury freezes, it 
undergoes a strong contraction in volume. Thus with progressive freezing of the 
central core, the mercury in the stem was drawn further down, giving the lower 
values recorded. In 24 Lomonosov notes that when the mercury in the stem 
froze, open spaces were left below it as the liquid in the bulb continued to 
freeze.] 



243 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 

away from the mercury ball which remained with a tail reach- 
ing into the tube of the thermometer like a pure silver wire 
which bent freely like a soft metal, and had the thickness of y 
of a line. After this, striking the ball of mercury with a butt, I 
felt that it had a hardness like tin or lead. From the first blow 
to the fourth it was compressed without a flaw, and from the 
fifth, sixth and seventh blows it showed cracks (Fig. 5). A shows 
the ball of mercury with the tail, B after the first blow, C after 
the second, D after the third and fourth, E after the fifth, sixth, 
and seventh. The mercury was changed by hammering and 
cutting with a knife, and after about 20 minutes it began to 
pass into an amalgam or into a paste and quickly regained its 
lost liquidity, that is, melted at such a great frost as 208 de- 
grees. Inside there was no liquid, nor were pores noted, and 
the solidity was greater than in later experiments. And though, 
because of haste, I did not observe whether there was any 
crack in the glass sphere, yet there would be no danger in this 
that the mercury would flow out, for the mercury itself already 
had created a wall when at the first fall in temperature its 
surface became a solid body and served instead of the vessel to 
contain that part which had not yet frozen inside. 

24 

According to the experiments made in later frosts I found: 
1) that mercury at about 130 degrees begins to thicken some- 
what. This can be seen clearly in a narrow bent glass tube, 
since the mercury itself does not reach equilibrium as fast as 
at the ordinary warmth; 2) at about 500 degrees it stops up the 
tube, but in the middle of the globe it is for the most part un- 
frozen or is filled with very many obvious pores; 3) in a long, 
narrow glass cylinder or tube I have sometimes seen frozen 
mercury with obvious gaps (Fig. 7); 4) when the tube is warmed 
by hand, the mercury sometimes shrinks further; 5) we should 
note here, although it does not exactly relate to this subject, 
that the electrical force acts through frozen mercury and 
through glowing iron. The method of the experiment is shown 
in Fig. 6. BdeC is the bent tube containing the mercury im- 
mersed in a freezing material, d the end of the wire, AB, dip- 
ping into the mercury and extending from an electrical indica- 
tor and heated by candles put on the bottom of glass vessel H; 



244 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 

e is the end of the wire CF at the other end of the tube, dip- 
ping into the mercury and extending from an electrical globe. 

25 

From all these experiments and in agreement with the ideas 
(20) we see that: 1) differences in the limits of freezing of 
mercury in the thermometer occur due to unequal rate of 
freezing in the thin thermometer tube. For it is natural that 
small amounts of mercury should freeze faster than much larger 
amounts in the bulb. And thus the freezing mercury in the 
tube blocks the way and entirely plugs it up while in the globe 
freezing has occurred only on the surface and the middle is 
entirely liquid and therefore the thermometer does not show a 
lower limit of freezing, but remains at the same degree at 
which mercury froze in the tube; 2) the limit of freezing of 
mercury should be about 1300 degrees and since the material 
frozen in the cylindrical tube contains breaks and empty spaces 
within itself (Fig. 7) while it sank only to 500 degrees, accord- 
ing to my calculations mercury should contract further to 
1000 degrees if all its empty spaces were filled; moreover, if 
mercury when first frozen was without sensible cavities all 
through the frozen solid, it would sink this low; 3) bodies in 
positions in space closest to each other have a measure of ex- 
tension between them as 1000 to 707 (20), and mercury from 
its boiling to its freezing by my observations is compressed by 
1647, that is, above to 414 and below to 1260 degrees of the 
thermometer. Hence the size decreases about 16/100; according 
to the theory there can still be no little further compression to 
3000 degrees. However, this compression may occur to some 
extent after freezing of the mercury. 

26 

There are still not a few liquid bodies which have not be- 
come solid in the strongest frost and their nature is not changed 
into ice; these, nevertheless, like mercury, require detailed 
study. In times to come we will not let the chance to study 
these diligently pass, any more than other studies of the riches 
of nature according to the duties assigned by Peter the Great 
to our institution. Divine Providence, advancing the welfare 
of Russia and the fortunes o our all gracious Autocrat for her 



245 



On the Solidity and Liquidity of Bodies 

deathless glory will not deprive us of the advance and increase 
in the progress of science here, and by the use of our native 
wisdom, for our institutions which are charged with the gen- 
eral good. Rooted and strengthened in the zeal and powerful 
genius of the sons of Russia for the higher sciences under the 
generous patronage of the great Elizabeth, we will brilliantly 
express the forms, examples, and encouragement of our true 
advantages and endless favors, for the supremacy of the scholars 
of our country in all future generations. 



246 



Oration on the Origin of Light. A New 
Theory of Color, Presented in a Public 
Meeting of the Imperial Academy of 
Sciences, July 1, 1756, by 
Mikhail Lomonosov 

Lomonosov was interested in the subject of optics from the be- 
ginning of his career, and when he turned to the manufacture of 
mosaics, he extended this interest to the phenomenon of color. 
After he began his experiments on the preparation of colored 
glasses in the chemical laboratory built for him in 1748, he worked 
intensively in this field. Between 1750 and 1754, as indicated in 
letters to Euler, he developed a theory of color along with his 
practical work. The application of his corpuscular theory was ex- 
tended from the kinetics of material bodies to the kinetics of the 
matter of ether, and he combined his chemical and physical views 
to produce a form of wave theory of light and color. This is one of 
the few extensions of his theoretical ideas which he carried out 
after he ceased to work very actively in theoretical physics and 
chemistry in about 1750. In 1756 he felt ready to present his views 
to the Academy, and after several preliminary discussions, he gave 
his formal oration on July 1, 1756. It was published by the Acad- 
emy as a separate issue of 400 copies in Russian in 1758; a Latin 
translation, also in 400 copies, was issued in 1759. The work was 
widely known and commented upon by scholars in western Europe 
at the time, and was known also to Thomas Young when he 
worked on the theory of color. The Russian text is given in Col- 
lected Works, III (1952), pp. 315-344, and in Selected Works, 
pp. 294-317. 



The investigation o nature is difficult, my auditors, but it 
is pleasant, useful, and holy. The more Its secrets reach the 
mind, the greater is the pleasure felt by the heart. The more 
our zeal thus expands, the more abundantly do we gather its 
fruits for the use of the world. The more deeply the discussion 



247 



Oration on the Origin o Light 

of such marvelous matters penetrates to the reasons themselves, 
the more clearly do we see the impenetrability of the everliving 
Creator. In His omnipotence, majesty, and great wisdom, we 
find the first, general, true and outspoken teachings of the 
visible world. The heavens announce the glory of God. He 
gives first place to the sun, that is, in it we see the divine 
radiance more clearly than in any other object. Because of the 
vastness of its universal structure it shines continuously to the 
farthest planets, exceeding the dreams of human swiftness by 
its instantaneous and incomprehensible rays. By their con- 
tinuous and lightning-like rapidity these swift and favoring 
rays arouse other creatures to industry, shedding light, warm- 
ing, and animating not only the human mind, but also, it 
seems, the dumb beasts who are animated by some divine 
presence. What is this measureless light which seems to be an 
ocean in which the internal sanctuary of nature is revealed to 
the curious eye and by whose rays a great part of the other 
secrets of nature are revealed to the zealous seeker? 

Many treatises in different countries, appearing in different 
centuries, explain this. Untiring investigators have overcome 
many hindrances and have eased the work of those who fol- 
lowed them; they have driven away the dark clouds and have 
penetrated further into pure heaven. But just as the sensitive 
eye cannot look directly at the sun, so also the vision of reason- 
ing grows weak in studying the causes of the origin of light 
and its separation into different colors. What is left to hope for? 
To cease the work? To give way to despair of success? Never! 
Perhaps such is the wish of negligent persons, unworthy of the 
heroes who have made such great progress in studying nature. 
We see how they have collected a great mass of material on 
this subject or how, as is said of the ancient giants, they have 
drawn near to the source of such radiance, such magnificence 
of color. We ascend to the heights after them without fear, 
we advance on their strong shoulders, and rising above all the 
darkness of hindering ideas, as much as possible we turn our 
keen and discerning eyes to the study of the causes for the 
origin of light and its separation into different colors. 

At the beginning of this undertaking, let us analyze the basis 
for this mighty thing, established by so many creative minds 
with consistent or conflicting views, and where the theories 



248 



Uration on the Origin ot JLight 

are not organized or are uncertain, we will try to correct and 
strengthen them by the possibilities which occur to us. Finally 
we will begin to combine the systems. 

Colors are produced from light; therefore we should first 
consider its causes, nature, and properties in general; then 
study its origin. Passing over the occult qualities of the an- 
cients, I will begin with the opinions of the present day, il- 
luminated as they are by the brightest physical knowledge. 
There are two main paths here: the first is the Cartesian, con- 
firmed and explained by Huygens; the second, originated by 
Gassendi, was accepted and its significance further explained 
by Newton. The difference between these two opinions is a 
difference in motion. Both consider an exceedingly subtle 
fluid, hence an intangible substance. But the motion according 
to Newton is assumed to be flowing from the light source like 
a river spreading in all directions; according to Descartes it is 
a continuous oscillation without flowing. We will consider 
with attention and care which of these opinions is true and 
sufficient to explain the properties of light and color. 

For a clear and detailed understanding we should discuss 
all sorts of possible motion in general. Thus, assuming a very 
subtle and intangible fluid as the material of light, which no 
one now doubts, we find three possible motions for this, and 
which actually is or is not possible we will show later. The 
first motion can be flowing or passing along, as Gassendi and 
Newton think, by which the ether (the material of light as it 
was called by the ancients and by many at the present time) 
moves from the sun and other large or small sources in all 
directions like a spreading river. The second motion can be a 
vibration in the ether, according to the opinion of Descartes 
and Huygens, by which it acts like very small and frequent 
waves in all directions from the sun, spreading them through 
the universal ocean of matter like quiet water in which parallel 
circular waves spread in all directions from a falling stone 
without any flowing motion. The third motion can be rotary, 
when each intangible particle making up the ether rotates 
around its center or axis. Whether these three possible motions 
of the ether actually produce light and color must be studied 
in order and attentively. 
The opinion that the cause of light is a flowing motion of the 



249 



Oration on the Origin of Light 

ether is purely arbitrary and has no basis in evidence. Only 
two circumstances show some sort of probability: the first is 
the law of light refraction discovered by Newton, the second 
is the sensible time required for the light from the sun to 
reach us. But the law is based on a similar arbitrary assumption 
of the force of attraction of bodies whose validity is now de- 
nied by the most learned physicists as an occult quality from 
the old Aristotelian school which reconverts healthy people to 
madness. Therefore, although it has been supported by intelli- 
gent authors, this does not confirm the theory. The sensible, 
though very short time in which light from the sun reaches the 
earth no more confirms the flowing motion of the ether than 
does the duration of time in spreading the voice after a call 
over a known distance show the flowing of air. If anyone says 
that light from the sun occurs by the flowing of ether like a 
river because there is a sensible time before the light from the 
sun reaches our sight, then he should conclude that there is a 
like consequence that air flows from a sounding dulcimer in 
all directions with the same speed that a voice reaches the ear. 
But I think of the speed of a strong wind when air in one 
second is blown 60 feet, raising great waves in the water and 
tearing up trees by their roots, and I reason that if the air 
moves as fast in flowing from the strings as does the voice, this 
is more than a thousand feet a second, and by such music 
mountains would be torn from their places. 

And though neither conjecture mentioned as being useful in 
establishing this opinion can well serve as a probable proof, 
yet we concede the time and, assuming that light from the sun 
spreads in all directions by flow of ether, we shall see what 
follows. 

It has been shown sufficiently by the laws of mechanics, con- 
firmed by daily experience and everything generally accepted, 
that the smaller and lighter a body is, the less it opposes a 
motive force and the less momentum it acquires; and also, the 
more it encounters resistance, the more rapidly is its course 
changed* For example, if anyone casts a small grain of sand 
from a sling, does it fly as fast and as far as a rock similarly 
thrown by a human hand? What can be finer and lighter than 
a single particle making up the ether? And how enormous is 
the distance from us to the sun? And who can dream of a faster 



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flow than the ether, according to the opinion cited above? And 
what stronger drag can there be than the attraction to the sun 
which draws to it not only our earth, but other greater bodies, 
pulling them out of straight line motion? Can we think of the 
origin of light by a flowing motion of the ether when there 
are such difficulties? 

Let us place a small, black and nontransparent grain of sand 
in the brilliant sunlight for twelve hours. During this whole 
time there flows to it continuously the light from the entire 
visible semicircle of the sun which is included in the conical 
expanse which has the circle of the sun at the bottom and the 
grain of sand at the apex. The cubic content of this conical 
space contains by calculation about seven hundred and twenty 
million cubic radii of the earth. In every eight minutes the 
spread of light from the sun to the earth is completed, and so 
in twelve hours there pass from it to this grain of sand eight 
thousand six hundred and forty million cubic earth radii of 
ether material. Let us remove the grain of sand from the 
sunlight and place it in a small, dark, cold room; the heat 
acquired from the sun disappears at once and not the least 
light remains. Even if this experiment were repeated for a 
whole year or were carried on for a century, the black grain 
of sand would always remain black and in the dark would not 
give off any light. A black material does not reflect the light 
which reaches it nor does this light penetrate through it. Tell 
me, friends and defenders of the opinion of the flowing motion 
of the material which produces light, in this case where is it 
hiding? You can only say that it is collected in the grain of 
sand and remains there completely. But is it possible for it to 
fit into such a quantity of material? I know that you divide 
the material of light into such fine particles and place them in 
universal space with so little density that the whole quantity 
can be compressed and packed in the porous crevices of one 
grain of sand. Although there is no basis or evidence for this 
separation of yours, yet I will grant you such conditions, pro- 
vided that according to your rules I will be allowed to divide 
the material into equally fine particles. You cannot deny me 
this. Thus, I divide the surface of the black and nontransparent 
grain of sand into many millions of parts, of which each is 
illuminated by the whole visible semicircle of the sun; to 



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each of them runs the awesome amount of ether material which, 
when put into them, remains there. Where do you find such a 
place? Perhaps you can divide the matter still more minutely. 
But in the same way I will have the right to divide the par- 
ticles on the surface of the grain of sand and each will use as 
much light. See how your opinion is burdened with difficulties. 

But you still say that while it is true that we see difficulties 
we do not see impossibilities, which alone could produce con- 
tradictory conclusions from the theory. I reply: difficulties are 
often very close to impossibilities, and these I happen to find 
in more than one way in your theory. 

Among known substances what is harder than the diamond? 
What is more transparent? Hardness requires sufficient material 
and narrow pores; transparency can scarcely be allowed to the 
constituent matter of the diamond if we assume that light ex- 
tends by a flowing motion of the ether material. For from each 
point of the diamond's surface and of all the interior of its 
body to each point on the whole surface and in all the interior 
of its body light passes in a straight line. Hence in all these 
directions straight line pores extend into the whole diamond. 
Assuming this, the diamond not only should consist of rarefied 
and friable material, but should everywhere be empty within. 
It follows from the hardness that the constituents of its par- 
ticles cohere closely; from the transparency we conclude not 
only a friable nature, but almost emptiness surrounded by a 
fragile shell. Because these results contradict each other we 
must assume that the theory that light from the sun extends 
itself by a flowing motion of the ether is incorrect. 

Let us still assume that light extends from the sun and other 
lighted bodies by a flowing motion of the ether. New impossi- 
bilities, new contradictions arise. In the diamond, transparent 
on all sides, from each point of its surface and in all the in- 
terior of the body extend the straight line pores of the whole 
diamond; but these pores carry the material of light, as shown 
above. Light is transmitted from one side to the other without 
hindrance by an equal force. Let us place the diamond between 
two candles. The light from both sides passes through the 
diamond with equal force, and one candle can be seen from 
one side through the diamond at the same time as the other 
from the other side. What is this? Have we abolished mechan- 



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ics? Do we assume that when two fluid materials meet in equal 
amounts and with equal force from either side in a narrow pore 
such as must exist in the diamond they do not encounter and 
stop each other? 

How much more is there? When the light of many thousands 
of burning candles passes through the pores of a diamond set 
between them, how many crossings and meetings of the flow- 
ing material of light must there be at innumerable angles of 
inclination; but there is no hindrance and not the least con- 
fusion. What is the proper logical conclusion? Where are the 
indestructible laws of motion? 

These disproofs would be sufficient, but in order to eliminate 
the last trace of the idea, I suggest the following. 

Is it possible in nature that one and the same substance is 
larger than itself? The immutable laws of mathematics affirm 
that one and the same substance is always equal to itself in 
size. A denial of this is wrong and contradicts the daily experi- 
ence and reasoning of sane men. But all this follows from the 
position and opinions of Gassendi and Newton. Rays of the 
sun are reflected from within the walls of a glass prism so 
strongly that an object in a given position is observed as clearly 
as if this object were seen directly. It follows from this that all 
the rays are reflected back from the side mentioned and very 
few of them pass through. The viewed object can be seen as 
clearly from the other side through the same wall as if it were 
in direct sight. From this it follows without dispute that all the 
rays of the sun pass through this side and very few of them are 
reflected. Is not this what follows from the theory mentioned? 
As many rays are reflected from this surface as fall on it, and 
as many pass through it, that is, the material of the sun's rays 
will be doubled. Now we must hold and assert one of the two 
ideas, either the theory that the spread of ether material occurs 
by a flowing motion is false or it is true, and therefore we be- 
lieve that one and the same substance at the same time is 
greater than itself. 

Now that we have considered the impossibility of this mo- 
tion of the ether material, we turn to the second theory, that 
is, we ask whether oscillatory motion can be the cause of light. 

I have shown in my meditation on the cause of heat and cold 
that heat comes from rotary motion of the particles which 



253 



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compose the body itself. But although many former objections 
have been clearly shown to be incorrect, yet we should not fail 
to confirm this again by new conclusions drawn from the art 
itself. 

When iron is struck, it is heated; its own material is com- 
pressed more densely and foreign matter is forced out; this 
shows clearly that the foreign material is not cooled when made 
smaller and the essential matter which is compressed is warmed 
by friction and rotation of the particles. 

When copper and other metals are heated in aqua fortis or 
lime is moistened with water, then without any external warm- 
ing of these bodies, heat is produced spontaneously in them. 
According to the opinion of the defenders of a caloric material, 
this should be collected from another neighboring body, and 
hence this other body should grow cold. But this is contrary to 
all experience. For an arbitrarily assumed heat material exists 
in equilibrium and does not create itself; it maintains an equi- 
librium when it passes from a hot body to a cold one, heating 
the latter and cooling the first by an equal degree of heat; it 
does not maintain an equilibrium when the lime is heated 
without cooling of a substance lying near it; a clear contra- 
diction. 

No matter how long lead is kept in boiling water, it will 
not acquire more heat than we find in the boiling water itself 
by the thermometer. In the opinion of the believers in heat 
material, this enters the insensible pores and fills them in ac- 
cord with their size. The same lead outside of water acquires 
for itself an incomparably greater amount of heat; it melts, be- 
gins to burn, and is changed into a glass. Here, according to 
the idea of departure and entrance of heat matter, it should fol- 
low that the same lead outside of water has larger pores than 
when in water and in itself is at the same time unequal and 
dissimilar, though it remains lead. 

Boiling water extinguishes incandescent iron. Hence, in the 
opinion of those who assume the cause of heat and cold to be 
a material of fire passing from one body to another, this ma- 
terial passes from the iron into the boiling water. But accord- 
ing to well-known experiments and indisputable conclusions, 
it is clear that when water boils it cannot become hotter. 
Hence, according to the same opinion it cannot take any more 



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heat material at all into itself. You see, a clear contradiction. 
At one and the same time water accepts and does not accept 
heat material from the same iron. 

Heat is continually given off from animals and warms ob- 
jects near them. Many of them never accept hot food. You 
champions and defenders of heat material, explain to me by 
what path heat enters animals insensibly and leaves sensibly. 
Perhaps when it enters it causes cold? That is, cold heat, just 
like dark light, moist dryness, soft hardness, a rectangular 
circle. 

All these difficulties, or to speak more correctly, impossibili- 
ties, disappear when we assume that heat consists of a rotary 
motion of the insensible particles which make up bodies. It is 
not necessary for some strange, incomprehensible heat ma- 
terial to pass from body to body, a fact which not only is 
confirmed by experiment, but can also be explained clearly. 
The rotary motion of particles is sufficient to explain and 
demonstrate all the properties of heat. For further verification 
of this I refer the seeker to my Meditations on the Cause of 
Heat and Cold and to my answer to the critics of these medi- 
tations. 

Now it is time to consider whether rotary motion of the 
ether particles can be the cause of light. 

Although the sun illuminates and warms at the same time, 
yet there are many cases when there is not the least light with 
a great heat and when along with a bright light we find no 
heat. Iron taken from the forge while still hot does not glow 
in the dark but retains so much heat in itself that it forces 
water to boil, chars wood, and melts lead and tin. On the other 
hand, the sun's rays reflected from a full moon and collected 
by a burning glass give a very clear and bright light but do not 
produce sensible heat. I will not mention the electric spark, 
phosphors and other materials which produce light in the dark 
without heat. For when there is fire without light and light 
without fire, then these must each originate from a different 
cause. Light and heat are gathered by earthly bodies from the 
sun through the ether. Therefore we must conclude that both 
are produced by the same material, but by different motions. 
The flowing motion has been shown to be impossible; rotary 
motion is the cause of fire and heat. Therefore when the ether 



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Oration on the Origin of Light 

produces heat in earthly bodies, that is, produces rotary motion 
of the particles, it can have another motion. Since ether can- 
not have a flowing motion and the rotary motion is the cause 
of heat without light, there remains only the third, an oscillat- 
ing motion of the ether which should be the cause of light. 

Although this has already been sufficiently shown, yet we can 
still consider whether in the spreading of light an oscillatory 
motion contradicts the consequences which were drawn from 
the idea of the flowing motion of ether, and second, whether 
it can explain the different properties of light. 

As to the first, we have a clear example in the oscillatory mo- 
tion of the air which spreads voices from place to place. Just 
as there are different voices which are all heard satisfactorily, 
so we can hear various musical tones differing in loudness from 
different instruments, and also the voices of birds and other 
animals; also thunder, ringing sounds, knocks, crackling, 
whistles, screams, creaks, murmurs, and their different direc- 
tions and positions, and besides these, the different sounds of 
the letters in different languages. All these innumerable dif- 
ferent voices come in straight lines, intersecting each other not 
only at all possible angles, but also meeting directly, and one 
does not nullify another. Standing near a sounding dulcimer, 
I hear on one side the singing of a nightingale and on the other 
the song and voice of the singer; there the sound of bells, 
somewhere else the trampling of horses: all these voices come 
to my ears and many others; whichever one of them I pay most 
attention to, that one I hear more clearly. Thus we have proof 
that in a variety of cases nature uses an oscillatory motion of 
fluid bodies, just as in air. Since we showed above the impos- 
sibility of a flowing motion of the ether, then we certainly 
should accept its oscillatory motion as the cause of light, for no 
contradiction follows from the above described oscillatory mo- 
tion. It is not fitting for one grain of sand to hold the material 
which occupies the awful spaces between it and the sun. It is 
not fitting that the diamond should be nothing more than a 
thin, friable shell. It is not fitting to use the other contradictory 
ideas. 

Secondly, the system is very satisfactory in that it offers a 
very clear explanation of the action and peculiarities of light 
and incontestably confirms different motions as the cause of 
heat and light. 



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Oration on the Origin of Light 

It was shown above that rays from the lunar semicircle, con- 
centrated by a burning mirror, do not show appreciable heat 
but have light at which we can scarcely look. This strange 
property will become clear and understandable from the above 
proposition. The particles of ether material between the sun 
and the moon move by oscillatory and rotary motions. The 
rotary motion is blunted by warming the surface of the moon, 
the oscillatory motion, which does not warm but serves to 
illuminate, loses less of its strength so that the reflected rays 
from our earth reach to the moon and return again from it, 
showing partial darkening of its side soon after the new moon. 

Mercury in a glass vessel which does not contain air pro- 
duces light without heat by falling in fine drops. It is well 
known to all that after a blow from a solid body spherical 
liquid drops quiver, contracting and expanding, so that the 
ether is also led into a quivering motion which produces light. 
Thus phosphors and other similar materials are lighted with- 
out radiating heat. Because of the shortness of time, this ex- 
planation will be sufficient for the present. 

Now it is proper to explain my ideas on the reason for colors 
and to demonstrate their probability. But first, rather than 
describing it, I will show the basis which has been unknown to 
physics up to now; not only has there been no explanation, but 
there has not even been a name for the phenomenon which is 
so significant and widespread in all nature that it occupies the 
most important place in producing the properties that originate 
in insensible particles. I call this the combination of particles. 
The importance of this basis depends on the similarity and 
dissimilarity of the surface of the particles of the same and 
different sorts of primary materials which make up bodies. 

Picture to yourselves the extent of the structure of the uni- 
verse, which consists of insensible globules of different sizes, 
their surfaces covered with particles and fine inequalities by 
which these particles can cohere with each other like teeth on 
a wheel. It is known from mechanics that those wheels are 
connected and move each other whose teeth are of equal size 
and like arrangement, attuned to each other; and when the 
sizes and arrangement are different, then they are not con- 
nected and do not move each other. This I find in the insensi- 
ble primary particles which make up all bodies, built up by 
the all wise Architect and all powerful Mechanician in accord 



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Oration on the Origin of Light 

with immutable natural laws, and I call those particles which 
are connected to each other compatible, and those which are 
not connected and do not move each other, incompatible. 

By operating on this basis, I can present clearly all the ac- 
tions and other wonderful effects and changes which are ob- 
served by the senses to occur in nature. 

Changes arising in the brain are announced by this motion 
through the vital juices in the nerves to their ends which are 
joined to the particles of external bodies touching them. This 
occurs in an insensible interval of time by continuous combina- 
tion of particles along the whole nerve to the end in the brain 
itself. For it is known from the laws of mechanics that many 
thousands of such globules or wheels when they stand unin- 
terruptedly joined in connection can be rotated from one ex- 
ternal force from one surface, stopping when it stops and in- 
creasing or decreasing the speed of their motion along with it. 

Thus the acid material contained in the nerves of the tongue 
combines with acid material particles placed on the tongue to 
produce a change in motion and this presents itself to the brain. 
Thus sensation is generated. So chemical solvents act, letting 
loose effervescence. In this way liquid materials rise in narrow 
tubes. Electrical force acts in this way and can be clearly pre- 
sented, explained, and demonstrated without the aid of inflow 
and outflow of fluid and without assuming any cause contrary 
to the motion of sensible materials. We merely suggest that by 
friction on the glass there is produced in the ether a rotary 
motion of its particles by a superior speed or a shutting off of 
motion by the remaining ether. This motion spreads from the 
surface of the glass to the pores of water or metal suitable for 
it. Here we do not need an unknown flowing motion of the 
particles of ether, but only their slight rotation. Thus, while 
we cannot understand how a flowing ether from a small elec- 
tric point passes so far in an insensible time, we can show here 
that by the application of an electrified hand to a nonelectrified 
body the compatible particles in whose pores there exists a 
mutual linking are turned by a rotary motion, so that the 
whole body in one instant produces an electrical oscillatory 
motion which increases its rate or changes its direction. At the 
same time, the rate of oscillatory motion becomes quieter in 
the electrified person because all bodies which communicate 



258 



Oration on the Origin o Light 

motion to another body give it up; hence this decreases in it. 
It is contrary to mechanical law that there is a flowing ether 
of many lengths bent in all directions in innumerable forms 
but without repulsion and struggle, for due to the many mil- 
lion angles, it should here lose its motion. These difficulties 
are eliminated by assuming the rotary motion of compatible 
particles, for in spite of the angles between each bend and 
fiber, it can be freely produced. The electric spark and feeling 
of discomfort, the thunderous blow and the other effects and 
properties according to former explanations and up to now 
have remained more strange than clear. According to this sys- 
tem, the combination of particles becomes easy to understand 
mechanically. However, for brevity's sake I am permitted no 
further explanation, and beautiful colors bring my oration 
back from electrical thunder clouds. 

All the unspeakably great number of ether particles men- 
tioned can be divided into three types of different sizes, all of 
which have a spherical shape. The first type of particle is the 
largest and by continuous mutual contact has a square arrange- 
ment. Therefore, considering a cubic body as against a sphere 
of the same diameter doubled, there will remain almost as 
much empty space between these particles as the spheres oc- 
cupy. In these spaces I assume ether particles of a second type, 
which, being much finer, are packed in considerable number 
against each other in a square position and by continuous 
mutual contact similarly occupy half the space in the inter- 
stices, hence the amount of material is half as compared to the 
first. Also I assume a third sort of the finest ether particles in 
the interstices of the particles of the second sort. This third 
sort of particle is of the same order of arrangement and by the 
above mentioned geometrical dimensions will have an amount 
of material in proportion to the amount of material of the 
second sort as one to two, to the amount of the first sort as one 
to four. There is no reason to divide the particles further nor 
do I see any necessity for this. These three sorts of ether par- 
ticles are each connected with the other sorts and are incom- 
patible with different sorts of particles so that when the par- 
cles of the first type turn by a rotary motion, joining with the 
others of their type, a large number in the circle around them 
are moved by the force of cohesion. The second and third sorts 



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Oration on the Origin of Light 

of particles will not be involved in this motion. This is, of 
course, also true of the other two sorts of particles. To speak 
briefly, the two sorts of particles can remain without turning 
while one is moved in a rotary motion; and when two turn, 
one can be motionless, and equally all three can be moved or 
all at rest without depending on each other. 

Sensible bodies by classification and by the agreement of 
eminent chemists consist of primary material, acting or acted 
on; chief or subsidiary. The first is assumed to be salty, sul- 
furous, or mercurious material; the second, pure water or 
earths. They do not believe the ordinary salt, sulfur, and mer- 
cury to be the primary simple and unchangeable materials; 
they merely derive the names from the predominance in them 
of these primary materials. 

I have made observations, and after many years by many 
surmises and also after definite experiments I have confirmed 
with sufficient probability that the three sorts of ether particles 
agree with the three sorts of true primary particles which make 
up sensible bodies, namely: the first size of ether corresponds 
to salt; the second size with mercury; and the third size with 
sulfur or inflammable material; and with pure earth, with 
water, and with air are joined all that is blunt, weak, and im- 
perfect. Finally, I find that from the first type of ether arises 
the color red, from the second, yellow, and from the third, 
blue. Other colors are generated from mixtures of the first 
ones. 

Now that we have seen the structure of these systems, let us 
look at their motions. When the sun's rays extend light and 
heat to sensible bodies, then the vibratory motion of the ether 
globules touches their surfaces and presses on them, and rotary 
motion is rubbed away from them. Thus the compatible par- 
ticles of ether are joined to the compatible particles of the pri- 
mary materials which make up the body. And when these are 
not suitable for rotary motion for some reason, then the rotary 
motion of this sort of ether is dulled; the vibratory motion 
still remains in force. Under such circumstances, the following 
phenomena occur. 

When the mixed particles of any sort of sensible body are so 
arranged that each primary material has a place on its surface, 
then all the sorts of ether particles touch it, and by combina- 



260 



Oration on the Origin of Light 

tion lose their rotary motion; therefore the rays of the sun 
without this motion do not produce any color in the eye, since 
they do not have the strength to induce rotary motion in the 
particles which compose the bottom of the eye. Thus the body 
appears black. Let us assume a mixed sensible body such that 
there is no single mixed particle of a predominant primary 
material on the surface, but this surface is surrounded by pure 
earthy or watery particles. Then all sorts of ether material 
should join only weakly with this, and the rotary motion would 
encounter scarcely any hindrance; hence with the rotary mo- 
tion it acts on the bottom of the eye, producing all the colors 
sensible to the view, and such a mixed body has a white color. 

Then let there be on the surface of the particles of mixed 
body a predominantly acid material; others are either not in 
the mixed body or they are covered by the acid. Then the first 
sort of ether material is deprived of rotary motion for com- 
bination with this and will not produce the sense of the red 
color in the eye, and only the yellow and blue ethers, rotating, 
begin to act freely in the optic nerve on the mercury and in- 
flammable material and produce the sensation of yellow and 
blue light at the same time, from which such a body should 
be green. Equally when mercury is on the surface of the mate- 
rial a purple color is produced; when inflammable material is 
on the surface, a deep yellow color appears in the material. 

When two materials have a place on the surface of the mixed 
particle, then from acid and mercury, the sensible color re- 
mains blue; from acid and inflammable principle, yellow, and 
from mercury and inflammable principle, red; since in the 
first case there is no inflammable material on the surface to 
hold back the blue ether; in the second no mercury to retain 
the yellow, and in the third, no acid to hold back the red ether. 

Already you see my whole system of ideas on the origin of 
color; it remains finally to present the evidence and confirm 
that my proposed idea is more than a simple invention or 
arbitrary suggestion. 

First, that a triple number of colors is required is confirmed 
by all previously known opinions of the professionals from 
numerous optical experiments by the famous physicist and 
industrious student of the nature of color, Mariotte, who did 
not refute Newton, as some thought, but tried to correct his 



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theory about the separation of light by refraction of the rays 
into colors and only confirmed that in nature there are three 
and not seven chief colors. 

The different sizes of the particles and their arrangement 
as described above are required by nature itself, which must 
everywhere require this classification equally, so that every- 
where the three sorts of ether will be in the same proportions 
and there will be no tendency or resistance to lose this nor 
will any sort fail to match the others. This I will show by very- 
simple and comprehensible examples. Picture to yourselves some 
place filled with cannon balls so that no more can be packed 
In. However, there will be idle spaces between them which 
can be filled with a great multitude of fusilier bullets. The 
empty spaces between the bullets will be filled with small shot. 
In such a state, let the balls, bullets, and shot be set in motion, 
as much as they can be. The balls will remain everywhere in 
one proportion; the bullets thus in proportion will everywhere 
occupy their spaces between the balls; between the bullets the 
shot remains in equal measure. And thus there remains con- 
tinuous contact between the three sorts of spheres. By such a 
method and only by this, is it possible to maintain everywhere 
an equal proportion in a mixture of the three types of ether. 
For If the ether differed in shape and heaviness, it would be 
impossible for it to be in an equilibrium mixture everywhere. 
Let us consider further the motion of the air, the waves of the 
sea, the annual and daily course of the earth, the rotation of 
the planets and comets; everywhere the ether remains in the 
same proportions in Its mixture, in spite of tendencies and 
forces. There is no collection of each sort in one place, ex- 
cluding the others. And this is impossible according to the 
arrangement described above. Under these circumstances it is 
what would be expected. 

Nature is most surprising in that it produces uncounted 
forms, properties, changes, and phenomena with simplicity by 
its great skill from a small number of causes. Can there be a 
special kind of ether for reddish yellow, for green, for purple, 
and for other mixed colors when reddish yellow comes from 
red and yellow, green from yellow and blue, purple from red 
and blue, and other kinds of mixed colors from various other 
mixtures? The painter uses the chief colors and prepares others 



262 



Oration on the Origin of Light 

by mixing; then in nature can there be a greater number of 
sorts of ether material for colors than it needs, since it always 
follows the simplest and easiest path for its actions? 

Moreover, it appears in bodies destroyed by fire that light 
refracted by prisms shows with proper accuracy the threefold 
number of primary simple colors. When a candle, or wood, 
or any other body burns with a lively and free flame, we see 
at the corners of the fire red, in the flame itself, yellow, and 
between the corner and the yellow flame, blue; these are the 
primary particles of matter composing bodies set in rotary 
motion, and by the heat of the burning body itself the three 
sorts of ether are moved. At the corner the acid material moves, 
along with itself, the red ether; in the flame, mercury moves 
the yellow, and above the burning corner the sulfur moves, 
for it is rotated by the flame more easily and before the mer- 
cury, and the rotary motion leads to the blue ether motion. 
Thus everything takes place according to the greatest prob- 
ability. 

Pure alcohol contains a greater part of inflammable matter 
in itself, and aside from a little acid, no mercury has been 
found in it by anyone. When burning, it blazes with a blue 
flame, clearly showing that the burning material, turning in 
it by rotary motion is the third sort of ether which, joined with 
it, rotates and produces the sensation of a blue color. Mineral 
sulfur, besides containing inflammable material, contains acid, 
but no mercury and therefore the burning flame gives a purple 
color as it should according to this system. For in rotating, the 
particles of acid material lead to a rotary motion of the red 
ether which along with the blue can lead to a feeling of a 
purple color. The mercurious primary material should produce 
a yellow color according to the above theory. This is shown in 
artillery practice where for entertainment by the production 
of yellow flares they use antimony, a body rich in mercury 
material. 

Phosphorus when it glows or burns with a flame shows a 
greenish color, which clearly corresponds to its mixture, for 
phosphorus consists of inflammable material and salty acidity 
which is mixed with mercury materials. 

When, after melting, gold is cooled and begins to approach 
the state of a solid body, it shines with a very pleasant green 



263 



Oration on the Origin of Light 

color. What then occurs in its mixture? The acid material first 
of all loses its rotary motion (for it requires the greatest heat), 
the other two, inflammable and mercurious, still have sufficient 
heat to turn the particles and so turn with a rotary motion 
which turns the ether of the second and third sorts and gives 
the sensation of yellow and blue together, that is, produces 
green. 

A flame of a green color, though shown by many burning 
bodies, comes most of all from copper. It is enough to remark 
here that when this melts, the whole flame becomes green when 
fresh cold charcoal is thrown on it. This is for the same reason 
that cooling gold produces green, that is, the heat of the flame 
is decreased by the cold charcoal, the acid material of the hot 
copper loses its rotary motion force while the inflammable and 
mercurious materials are heated enough by the weak heat for 
motion. Thus without motion of the red ether, the yellow and 
blue present green to the sense of vision. 

Thus art, which confirms my opinion by its agreement, 
shows the action of the primary materials when, rotating in 
a flame, they move the ether by rotary motion, and by com- 
bination produce different colors in the sense of vision. Now 
it remains to show how these are reflected from the surface of 
the illuminated body into the eye and how different combina- 
tions produce different colors. For this purpose, let us first con- 
sider the blackness and whiteness of tangible bodies, and then 
pass to colors. 

When water boils it does not take great heat into itself. 
Hence its particles cannot reach equal speed by combining 
with others which produce motion in the surrounding mate- 
rial. Thus the ether particles which have no exact combination 
with the water located on the surface of the moving sensible 
particles come into view with surrounding motion of all three 
sorts of ether and arouse the sense of all colors, that is, the 
color white. But when a combustible white material, for ex- 
ample wood or paper, is touched by fire, it immediately black- 
ens and is converted to charcoal. How does this come about? 
Water, which is in the mixed body, is driven out by the heat 
and the active primary material left exposed keeps the ether 
back from rotary motion by combination and this ether does 
not reach the eye and does not produce a sense of color, and 
thus it appears black to us. Hence it happens that a white sub- 



264 



Oration on the Origin of Light 

stance is less heated by the sun and a black one is more heated. 
For all three sorts of ether material are caught in combination 
on the particles of a black body and submitted to rotary mo- 
tion, while on a white body the opposite occurs. 

A strong burning lens covered with black lacquer produces 
at the burning point a very great light and only a little heat, 
clearly showing that rotary motion of the ether in a black ma- 
terial is exhausted, the vibratory motion continuously remains. 

Here you may ask, not without reason, whether I do not 
establish one cause for heat and color, which are such different 
phenomena. I answer that the motion which produces heat 
and color is rotary, the materials are different. The cause of 
heat is rotary motion of the particles which make up sensible 
bodies. The cause of color is rotary motion of the ether, which 
along with heat is communicated to earthly bodies from the 
sun. Heat and color are rather similar in their effects, but we 
see more if we examine closely both these properties in nature. 
For the present case it will be sufficient to make the new re- 
mark that colors of cold bodies appear brighter to the vision 
than those of hot bodies. 

Take two pieces of the same singly colored material, espe- 
cially a red one. Put one piece on a hot stone or iron, only 
so that it does not catch fire; the other in the cold, especially 
in the winter in a severe frost. You will see clearly that on the 
cold rock the piece of material is redder than on the hot one. 
This truth can be tested by changing the piece of material 
from the hot rock to the cold one, and from the cold to the 
hot as often as you wish. Other colors are not so sensibly 
changed. 

Here we can see clearly that in cold bodies as the constitu- 
ent particles are turned more quietly by a rotary motion, they 
more strongly hinder the ether. Those which are not on the 
surface of the mixed body leave free those which are not com- 
patible on the surface, therefore these, separated from the 
others, seem brighter. On the other hand, the particles of the 
hot body move faster, the ether particles are not kept so strongly 
from rotary motion; therefore by their residual motion, the 
chief colors are formed and do not come so brightly to the 
vision. This I first concluded from my theory, and afterwards 
found it to be true by test. 

Now it is time to look at all three kingdoms of multiform 



265 



Oration on the Origin of Light 

nature so that even though we show it briefly, we will see how 
much similarity there is in the structures of animal, plant, and 
mineral substances within this system. 

It is known from chemical experiments that in mixed bodies 
of animals there is very little free acid; therefore there is little 
green in them. Thus when animal parts are destroyed they do 
not turn sour, but loss of constituents occurs. By souring, acid 
and inflammable materials are liberated from a mixed body; 
by loss of material, mercurial particles are lost. Therefore in 
animals, acid primary material is surrounded by the others and 
produces little acid taste and green color. 

Contrary to this, in plants greenness and acidity predom- 
inate; there is green in all the parts; acid is also felt there; in 
flowers acid and green are lost. Unripe fruit is acid and green; 
ripe fruit is blue, reddish, yellowish, or purplish, and different 
kinds become sweet when their acidity is either decreased or 
altogether suppressed. 

When wood rots or leaves fall from trees they turn yellow; 
the mercurial material is driven off and separated from the 
mixed body, dispersing into the air. Hence the second sort of 
ether, that is, the yellow, not being joined to the surface, does 
not lose its rotary motion and, extending to our eye, produces 
this motion in the mercury material compatible with it in the 
black membrane at the bottom of the eye, and arouses the 
sensation of yellow in the optic nerve. 

In the mineral kingdom of nature where there are many 
chemical changes, I could present a great number of examples 
which would confirm the correctness of my opinion, showing 
differences in minerals and in the chemical actions affecting 
color properties and effects. However, I cannot now put them 
all in my oration. Therefore I will offer a small part of these. 

Water and pure earths and rocks have no other color than 
white, that is, all three sorts of ether are reflected without los- 
ing their rotary motion. This agrees with the above demon- 
stration that they have little compatibility with the ether. On 
the other hand, black bodies are always composed of many 
different mixed materials and, being compatible with all the 
sorts of ether, hinder their rotary motion, without which no 
sort of sensible color can be excited in the eye. 

J cannot remain silent here about the opinion, contrary to 



266 



Oration on the Origin of Light 

daily experience, of those who, in assuming the spread of light 
in a flowing of the ether, produce blackness from a great num- 
ber of pores which they ascribe to the black body and assert 
that light, entering them, disappears. According to their opin- 
ion, if a body has more pores it will be blacker than one with 
fewer pores. Therefore white chalk should be denser than 
black marble; pigments, darker when ground than when un- 
ground; facts which are contrary to nature. 

An effect not like this, but in accord with my system as 
described above, is found in ink making. When the particles 
of the material composing ink are still freely separated in 
water, they move with a rotary motion and are scarcely hin- 
dered by the ether globules, and therefore the color does not 
have a marked darkness. But when the added materials are 
combined into one mixed particle, then all the mixed body 
particles will be large and little inclined to rotary motion; 
then all three sorts of ether are hindered in rotary motion 
which therefore does not reach the eye from these particles 
and no sense of color is produced; the mixed body appears 
black. The addition of aqua fortis whitens the ink since the 
acidity is comptaible with the material of the mixed body 
and separates it, and thus gives great freedom of motion; black- 
ness is restored to the ink by alkaline salts; then the acid ma- 
terial taking this into the mixed body forms again the com- 
bined material which composes the ink. 

Such combination of the primary particles composing a body 
into large particles of the mixed body occurs in all chemical 
mixtures when by removing the liquid from solutions the dis- 
solved material combines with itself into coarse particles which 
settle to the bottom and produce different colors according to 
how much material occupies their surfaces. 

Hence it happens that most acid liquid mineral substances 
do not have a green color, for they move freely in water and 
red ether is not hindered in rotary motion. But as fast as their 
acid particles for any reason become unfit for rotary motion, 
then, hindering the first kind of ether, the red color is extin- 
guished and the blue and yellow remain free, producing a green 
color; for example, when so-called oil of vitriol (a material 
exceeding all else in acidity) thickens in a great frost and its 
particles have very little rotary motion, a green color is pro- 



267 



Oration on the Origin of Light 

duced in it. Equally copper and iron above other metals con- 
geal with acid materials which not only dissolve faster in them 
than in others, but also are destroyed in their vapors and show 
reciprocal combination of the particles of one sort; by com- 
bination into large particles these lose fitness for rotary motion 
by the acid and retain the red ether, so that their solutions 
and precipitates in pure acid oil of vitriol tend more to a green 
color. 

I would like to show for this system all the examples from 
numerous experiments which I have carried out and studied 
especially on multicolored glasses for the mosaic art, and I 
would wish to explain everything that I have thought over 
fifteen years between my other tasks. But this would require a 
much longer time than is allowed for a public oration. Second, 
I would have to explain clearly to everyone my whole system 
of physical chemistry, to perfect and report it to the scientific 
world, which is prevented by my love for the Russian language, 
the great Russian heroes, and the search for the activities of 
our fatherland. 1 

Thus I now beg that this expression of my ideas on the 
origin of color will be received with willing and patient wait- 
ing for my whole system, if God permits. Especially I offer it 
to those who, because they turn with praise to chemical prac- 
tice alone and do not venture to raise their heads above soot 
and ashes in order to seek the reason and nature of the primary 
particles composing bodies, from which color and other prop- 
erties come, are to be considered vain and sophistical. For 
knowledge of the primary particles is as necessary in physics 
as the primary particles themselves are necessary for composing 
sensible bodies. How many experiments are there for this in 
physics and chemistry? How many great men have risked their 
lives and work for this? For this they have gathered together 
a great multitude of different substances and materials in con- 
fused masses, considered and wondered at their multitude, 
meditating on their arrangement and putting them in order. 

Thus, when simple discoveries without any supporting evi- 
dence and without enough work to justify them have brought 
glory to many in the learned world, I have hoped that my 
system would be honored here with attention. The importance 

1. [Lomonosov refers to his philological and historical studies, which were 
occupying most of his time at this period.] 



268 



Oration on the Origin of Light 

of the material should produce this result. The greatest part 
of the freshness and joy in our lives depends on color. The 
beauty of the human face, of clothing and other decorations 
and implements, the pleasure of many colored minerals and 
precious stones, animals of different kinds, and finally all the 
radiant glory and beauty of the sun, everything that is pro- 
duced in the magnificence of the blossoming fields, in the 
forests, and in the sea, are not all these worthy of our attention? 
In briefly putting forth my ideas on this work for the present 
joyful celebration, my auditors, I have turned your hearts to 
radiant joy by this fitting subject of sunlight which enriches 
your eyes and hearts and does not leave you in darkness. The 
present festive day offers you the opportunity to voice your 
thoughts on this name day of Peter's daughter, the great Eliza- 
beth, and on this day the Divine blessing, the good fortune, 
is doubled and multiplied, since it is also the name day of the 
Grand Dukes Peter and Paul. With you, my auditors, and with 
the general populace, the Imperial Academy of Sciences offers 
its felicitations and most humble testimony of gratitude and 
joy by a special public session. Oh how beautiful amidst our 
joy is the image of the springlike magnificence of our ruler! 
The image of majesty, power, glory, and all virtue of our in- 
comparable monarchy. The image of indulgence to all, of mu- 
tual love and the other great gifts of the blessed pair, their 
Imperial Highnesses. The image of their beloved young chil- 
dren, the sweetest hope and expectation of our hearts. All your 
wishes, my auditors, and those of the fatherland burst forth 
with ours. Beautiful flowers, most dear, all kindly, sprung from 
the noblest roots of Europe, most brilliant Grand Duke Pavel 
Petrovich, bloom thou amidst the abundant spread of our 
garden of the whole Russian empire, renewed and surrounded 
by a strong wall through the immortal labors of your noble 
great-grandfather, adorned by the praiseworthy kindness and 
divine favor of his lawful descendant, zealous imitator, worthy 
daughter of such a father, our most gracious Sovereign. Grow 
thou in the radiance of a sun without beginning, delight us 
all by the fragrance of general joy, cheer our hearts and eyes 
by the unfading beauty of thy priceless health, reach unhin- 
dered to full maturity, increase the longed for fruit of thine 
inheritance to the eternal gratitude of the fatherland! 



269 



Criticism of the Theories of Lomonosov 

The first volume of the Novi Commentarii Academiae scientiarum 
imperialis Petropolitanae, which contained several papers by Lo- 
monosov, received considerable attention among the scholars of 
western Europe, and its contents were abstracted and discussed in 
many of the learned journals of the Continent. A highly critical 
series of comments on most of Lomonosov's theories appeared 
anonymously in the Commentarii de rebus in scientia naturali et 
medidna gestis, published in Leipzig. There is some reason to 
believe that the author was a certain Professor Kestner of Leipzig. 1 
The following selection indicates the type of criticism contained in 
this journal. 2 



Mikhail Lomonosov in his work "On the cause of heat and 
cold" has reported nothing more than simple experiments. 
Beginning with the principle of sufficient reason he has pain- 
stakingly shown by this principle: a sufficient reason -for heat 
consists in motion, and since motion is impossible without 
material, then it consists in the motion of some sort of mate- 
rial, here an internal combined material. We assume that the 
readers for whom the Academy publishes its reports would 
willingly consent to this as an axiom since this internal mo- 
tion is not progressive, for particles of a solid body, strongly 
heated, do not notably change their position. He also denies 
the possibility of oscillatory motion of bound material, since 
parts of the body cannot be bound by perceptible linkages 'if 
they compete by internal oscillatory motion. He probably did 
not think of bells, the particles of which certainly vibrate on 
sounding, but the bell remains entirely solid for many cen- 
turies. Thus, nothing remains for him but to announce that 
heat is included in the rotary motion of the separate particles. 

1. See the letter of Euler to Lomonosov of December 3, 1754, in G. E. 
Pavlova, M. F. Lomonosov v Vospominaniyakh i Kharakteristikakh Sovremenni- 
kov (Academy of Sciences Press, Moscow and Leningrad, 1962), p. 127. 

2. Commentarii de rebus in sdentia naturali et medidna gestis ; 1:222-226, 
228 (1752); 2:322-323 (1753); the selections translated here are given in Pavlova, 
Lomonosov, pp. 153-154, 161, 165-166, 177-178. 



270 



Criticism of the Theories of Lomonosov 

He asserts that for confirmation of his idea he uses the mathe- 
matical method of demonstration, in which the a priori method 
is usually strengthened by examples or the a posteriori is tested^ 
as the mathematicians would say, so that it is confirmed by 
rational deductions obtained from experiments which never 
follow the exactness of geometry. Thus first of all, he turns to 
heat caused by friction and assumes that when one body is 
moved by another and the particles of the moving body plunge 
into the particles of the other body, both particles are set in 
motion. Let us assume that the rotary motion can occur only 
in the case when all the particles of the bodies are spherical, 
as the author depicts them in his figures. But the sphericalness 
of all the separate particles of the heated body are more easily 
drawn than shown to the eye of the physicist. It is known that 
Descartes considered whether all particles created by God were 
cubic and their rotary motion continued until their angles 
were rubbed off and they became spherical. But in our time 
when even the wisest physicist knows very little about the 
definite shape of the finest particles, it seems we cannot assume 
that all these particles can be spherical or that friction has such 
force and the spherical nature comes constantly from all other 
particles. However, the author immediately explains why strong 
compression and rapid motion cause strong heating, since in 
his opinion, they strengthen rotary motion, and why liquids 
are not heated by friction more than occurs among solid bodies; 
they prevent the heat which usually arises from friction since 
their particles are less cohesive and do not obtain rotary mo- 
tion from friction, and as to this the reader can easily judge 
for himself after our account. Finally, he comes out against 
heat material which, in the opinion of others, is the source. 



Further, the same author follows with a dissertation on the 
action of chemical solvents in general. He considers that acids 
dissolving metals introduce air into the pores of metals, for 
indeed there is air in the pores of metals whose tension is 
already without activity, but with the inflow of new air it is as 
it were reactivated and the air bursts out, pushing apart the 
particles of the metal. He reports the finding that solutions 
are formed more quickly if there is more air in the liquid 



271 



Criticism of the Theories of Lomonosov 

than when we remove it with a pump, other conditions being 
equal; and he should also show that if the liquid is exposed 
to open air it is pressed to the metal by atmospheric pressure 
while in the vacuum of the pump this force is weakened and 
the liquid invades the pores of the metal with less force than 
under such pressure. For solution of salts in water he assumes 
another reason; indeed the pores of salt are full of water which 
does not contain air, but in water itself he does not deny the 
presence of air. Thus, water acts on the salt, exciting its par- 
ticles to rotary motion, and this separates them from each 
other. Accomplishing this, they themselves lose as much rotary 
motion and are therefore cooled. Hence he considers one sol- 
vent direct, as the solution of salt in water, and the other inter- 
mediate > that is, by exciting the elastic force of air, as in the 
solution of metals in acid, and suggests that thus they can be 
differentiated by the sign of cooling or heating. But we cannot 
briefly express our opinion and we leave it to the reader to 
judge. 



The same Lomonosov has attempted to create a theory of 
the elastic force of air. He assumes that the particles of air 
are spherical, but denies that the elasticity can arise from inter- 
stitial fine fluid. But this fluid is either compressed or not com- 
pressed by air confined in any sort of vessel. If we assume the 
first, then the walls of the solid vessel should be impervious 
to this liquid, that is, its particles should be scarcely less than 
the particles of air, which contradicts the hypothesis. There- 
fore the fluid itself will act on the vessel, and it will not be 
necessary that particles of air be suspended in it. And still, 
which we consider most important, particles of this liquid will 
tend to withdraw from each other, which again requires an 
explanation. If the liquid is not compressed, then since it does 
not show any action on the solid walls of the vessel, it also does 
not act by any force on the finest particles of air, escaping due 
to its lightness and volatility. Finally, on compression of air 
and pushing out of some particles of fluid, a lesser number is 
left and if elasticity of air results from these, the compressed 
air should be less elastic. Thus it seems to him doubtful that 



272 



Criticism of the Theories of Lomonosov 

the elasticity of air results from direct action of its atoms, and 
since the elasticity of air is increased by heat, he considers the 
origin of the action is from heat alone, and this again on his 
hypothesis of rotary motion. He explains it thus: there are two 
particles of air, one above the other at a very small distance; 
by the force of gravity the upper falls on the lower and as it 
falls, both particles acquire rotary motion in contrary direc- 
tions, for example, one to the right, the other to the left. These 
particles are not smooth, but somewhat rough. Thus when the 
projections of the upper particle falls in the hollows of the 
lower, motion arises from the blow in each and they recoil 
from each other; this is elasticity and it is directed in different 
directions, since at each blow the particles are repelled in a 
given direction or, because of the irregularities, they rebound 
reversibly from all the blows. He further makes suggestions 
about sound and about air included in bodies which it is not 
necessary to consider here, since the truth of this hypothesis 
can easily be judged. Without any basis he assumes rotary mo- 
tion of each separate particle on a blow contrary to another 
blow, and also "for the spirit" he devises some story that in a 
series of particles lying vertically on each other all rotate alter- 
nately, one to the right, the other to the left. Then, if all the 
particles have weight and fall, under the influence of gravity, 
yet not one will strike another, since gravity communicates to 
all one and the same speed and it is then necessary to devise 
some other force which would hasten the upper and slow the 
lower, and finally, all the fluids with particles capable of rotat- 
ing, that is all the fluids by the hypothesis of the author, which 
can be heated will thus have elasticity. For although the par- 
ticles touch each other, yet the rotary motion gives them a 
tendency to go apart from each other. The author is left only 
one conclusion, to devise for water and other nonelastic fluids 
a higher degree of smooth elements, that is, to dissolve the 
hypothesis into another hypothesis. 

The physicomathematical class includes Lomonosov's Supple- 
ment to the Dissertation on Elastic Force of Air. Here he speaks 
chiefly of the property of elasticity of air that its force is pro- 
portional to the density of air. But what the author says is 
very difficult to shorten so that it could be inserted here. 



273 



Criticism o the Theories of Lomonosov 



Lomonosov wrote on metallic luster. He calls metals lustrous 
and ductile bodies of which the nonprecious are those which 
by action of fire are converted into ashes or glass, losing luster 
and ductility; the precious are those like gold and silver which 
resist the strength of fire for a long time; that which is removed 
on burning and glass formation is more volatile and since it 
colors metals as it were a lustrous color, this can be called the 
luster of metals. It is first of all considered to be inflammable 
substance or phlogiston. It is pushed out on burning, and on 
reduction to the metal form it is added again. Although this 
is observed only in the nonprecious metals, it can be seen even 
in gold, as the author asserts, for iron or copper regulus of 
antimony contaminated on melting by the phlogiston of iron or 
copper give gold a redder color. So also we find a large amount 
of sulfur in very hot and very cold regions which now, the 
author states, serves for formation of metals. He substantiates 
this for sulfur by various arguments and findings; he speaks 
further about the mineral acid and the arsenic principle which 
with phlogiston forms the so-called luster or more or less lus- 
trous color of metals. If the illustrious author would strengthen 
his opinions by different experiments, he could assert this with 
more probability and could render aid to the artisans who are 
occupied with changing the nature of metals, that is, by adding 
concentrated phlogiston, carefully purified from contaminants 
to nonprecious metals they could drive out the impure luster, 
making them more precious. But those who have studied con- 
centrating phlogiston and its addition to other bodies can easily 
understand how vain are the hopes of enriching these metals. 



274 



Dissertation on the Duties of Journalists in 
the Accounts Which They Give of 
Works Intended to Maintain the 
Liberty of the Philosopher 

Lomonosov was so disturbed by the criticism which his theories 
received in the West that he determined to answer his critics and 
to define what he felt were the duties o those who criticized sci- 
entific papers. Accordingly he wrote this dissertation in Latin in 
August 1754. On November 28, 1754, he sent it to Euler with the 
request that the latter find a publisher for it and arrange for a 
general scientific discussion of the Lomonosov theories. Euler re- 
plied that it would be difficult to organize such a discussion, which 
in any case could not be very productive. However, he turned the 
manuscript over to his friend, the secretary of the Berlin Academy 
of Sciences, J. H. S. Formey, who translated it into French and 
published it in the journal which he edited in Amsterdam. 1 The 
French text (followed by a Russian translation) is published in 
Collected Works, ill (1952), pp. 202-216. 



No one is unaware of how rapid and considerable has been 
the progress of science since it has thrown off the yoke of servi- 
tude and followed it with the liberty of the philosopher. But 
neither can we any longer be unaware of the abuse of this 
liberty because of the very troublesome evils whose numbers 
would not have been nearly as great if most of those who wrote 
had not made more of a trade and breadwinning occupation 
of their work than of attempting an accurate and well regu- 
lated search for truth. It is from this that there have come so 
many dangerous matters, so many bizarre systems, so many 
contradictory opinions, so many aberrations and absurdities 
that science would long ago have suffocated under this enor- 
mous mass if the company of scholars had not combined and 

1. Nouvelle Bibliotheque germanique, ou I'histoire litteraire de I'Allemagne, 
&e la Suisse, et des pays du Nord, pt. 2, 7:343-366 (1755). 



275 



On the Duties of Journalists 

utilized all their forces to oppose such a catastrophe. We can 
see from this that the torrent of literature carries on its waters 
both the true and the false, the certain and the uncertain, and 
that the philosopher runs the risk of losing all his authority 
if he does not withdraw from this situation; he has formed 
societies of men of letters and has erected a sort of literary 
tribunal designed to appreciate the work and to give to each 
author full justice according to the most exact rules of natural 
law. This is equally the origin of the academies and of the 
organizations which preside over the publication of their jour- 
nals. The first take care, before the writings of their members 
appear, to submit them to a rigorous examination which as- 
sures that they do not mix error with truth, that they do not 
give mere hypotheses for proofs, or old ideas for new. The 
duty of the journals is to present brief and accurate reports of 
the works which appear and sometimes to add a balanced judg- 
ment to them, either on the basis of the material itself or on 
some matter concerning the execution. The purpose and use 
of abstracts is to spread the knowledge of books rapidly 
throughout the republic of letters. 

It would be superfluous to indicate here how much service 
the academies have rendered to science by their assiduous work 
and scholarly memoirs, how much the light of truth has been 
extended and fortified since their salutary establishment. The 
journals could also have greatly favored the growth of human 
knowledge if their authors could have fulfilled all the tasks 
which were imposed on them and had been willing to remain 
within the just limits which these tasks required. The strength 
and the will, these are what they need; the strength to discuss 
in a firm and scholarly manner the great number of different 
subjects which come within their scope; the will to see nothing 
but the truth, to yield nothing to prejudice and passion. Those 
who set themselves up as journalists without these talents and 
without this disposition would never accomplish their results 
if, as has been suggested, they had never felt the spur of hunger 
and had not been forced to consider and judge that which they 
did not understand. It has come to the point that there is no 
work, however bad, which has not been praised in some jour- 
nal, and conversely, there is nothing, however excellent, which 
has not been cried down and reviled by some ignorant or un- 



276 



On the Duties of Journalists 

just critic. Then too, the number of journals has multiplied so 
that there is not time even to read the useful and necessary 
books or to consider and work with them for anyone who 
might wish to collect and merely glance over the Ephemerides, 
Learned Gazettes, Literary Acts, Libraries, Commentaries, and 
other periodical products of this sort. Intelligent readers, too, 
apply themselves to those which are recognized as better and 
shun all those miserable compilations which only copy and 
often mangle what others have already said or whose only 
merit consists in distilling spleen and venom without modera- 
tion and without reserve. A learned journalist, penetrating, 
equable, and modest has become a sort of phoenix. 

In order to justify what I have suggested, 1 am more em- 
barrassed by the crowd of examples than by the lack. The one 
on which I will base the rest of this dissertation is a sort of 
journal which is published at Leipzig to report on work in 
physics and medicine. 2 Among other things, it has given an 
account of the Memoirs of St. Petersburg, but there can be 
nothing more superficial than this account, which has omitted 
the most remarkable and the most interesting matters and com- 
plains that the Academicians have neglected facts or details 
which are perfectly well known to men of the profession and 
which it would be a ridiculous affectation to display, especially 
in matters which have not been submitted to the rigor of math- 
ematical demonstrations. 

One of the worst reviews, conforming least to the rules of 
sane criticism, is that on the memoirs of Councilor and Pro- 
fessor of Chemistry Mikhail Lomonosov, in which such a mass 
of errors has been made as to merit notice so as to teach critics 
of this sort not to step out of their sphere. At the beginning, 
the journalist announces his purpose; he threatens, the thun- 
derbolt forms in the clouds and prepares to burst forth. Lomo- 
nosov, he says, wishes to proceed to something greater than 
from experiments alone. As if a scientist does not have the 
right to rise above the routine and technique of experiments 
and is not called upon to subject these to reason so as to pass 
from them to discoveries. It is as if a chemist, for example, 
should be compelled always to hold the tongs in one hand and 

2. Its title is Commentarii de rebus in scientia natural* et medidna gestis. 



277 



On the Duties o Journalists 

the crucible in the other and never for an instant turn aside 
from charcoal and ashes. 

The critic then tries to subject the Academician to ridicule 
for making use of the principle of sufficient reason and to have 
sweat blood and water, as he expresses it, to apply in demon- 
strations of truth that which had already been proposed as an 
axiom. At least he says he has taken them for such; but at the 
same time he rejects the most obvious propositions as pure 
fiction and thus contradicts himself. He mocks at rigorous 
demonstrations when they are necessary and demands them 
when they are superfluous. It is for the philosophers who wish 
to avoid mockery to see how they take something to show 
nothing and at the same time to show everything. 

The motion of bells is a subject on which the journalist 
exercises his criticism without any foundation. He reproaches 
Lomonosov for not having given a true idea. Can anyone judge 
with more temerity? Is it lack of understanding, of attention, 
or of justice when he speaks thus? The critic confuses the in- 
ternal movement of the bell with its total movement, two 
things which are completely distinct, and no one can take the 
vibration of the bell for its internal movement after the Acade- 
mician has said so positively in 3 of his memoir that internal 
movement consists in change of position of the insensible par- 
ticles. When a bell is swung, when it is rotated, when it passes 
from one place to another, these movements have nothing in 
common with its internal movement and consequently cannot 
be regarded as a cause of heat. Actually, when a bell vibrates, 
the parts are in vibration with the whole. It is when an entire 
body has a progressive movement; all the parts move at the 
same time, but there is no internal movement, and this is the 
case with the vibration of the bell. Let the critic know that 
internal movement is not attained by vibration, but when 
vibrating particles of a body change their positions with rela- 
tion to each other in an imperceptible interval of time (3, 6) 
and consequently act and react on each other in a very rapid 
manner. However, this cannot occur in any body unless the 
particles are free of cohesion, which we assume for the parti- 
cles of air in studies of its elasticity. Let the same critic recog- 
nize that no one violates the law which he wishes to impose 
on others more than he himself, the law which expounds well 



278 



On the Duties of Journalists 

the first principles which serve as an explanation of a subject. 

A progressive motion or a vibration, then, cannot be a cause 
of internal motion, and it would be impossible for the critic 
to persist in his error in this respect if he knew that bells which 
ring and are struck with great force are no less cold. He thus 
does not understand himself, and is most mistaken when he 
blames the author for having established rotary motion as the 
cause of heat. 

There is no more basis when he reasons on the ground of 
14 of the memoir of Lomonosov that mathematicians never 
follow the a posteriori method for confirming truths already 
demonstrated. Is it not certain that in geometry, as elementary 
as it is sublime, numbers and figures are used to explain the 
theorems and somehow to put them before us, and that in 
mathematics applied to physics experiments are constantly 
used to support demonstrations? No one who has the slightest 
knowledge of mathematics can deny this. Wolff has even made 
this a law in his Arithmatic, 125. 3 Therefore it is disgraceful 
for a judge to ignore or neglect such a law. 

The journalist is more correct when he denies that rotary 
motion can occur in particles which are not endowed with 
spherical shape, but he is then in agreement with the opinion 
of the author. Thus it is an evil quibble that he is made to 
say that he has not formally expressed this assertion when it 
comes as an immediate consequence of the doctrine of 13, 
and there cannot be the shadow of a doubt that the rotary mo- 
tion which produces heat in the basic matter of the body has 
at once shown that the particles of this matter must necessarily 
be spherical. Besides, philosophers of the first rank usually con- 
ceive of primary particles as spheres, and I believe they are 
correct. For, if one bases anything on the argument by analogy, 
one can scarcely find any example more striking than what we 
find in the matter in question. Nature obviously chooses round- 
ness in large things as in small ones, and we can observe this 
in the immense bodies of the whole universe and in the little 
globules that swim in the blood. In the various parts of animals 
and plants, in eggs, fruits, seeds, is any other shape encountered 

3. Here are his words: Therefore we teach what is stated and we perceive 
that truth corresponds to experiments deduced a priori. 



279 



On the Duties of Journalists 

more often than the circular? And for liquid bodies, without 
even excluding melted metals, spherical drops are constantly 
formed, as round as they are small. This is enough to permit 
the idea that the elementary particles are also globular, but 
there is no lack of stronger reasons to make this fact still more 
evident. We certainly need not be stopped for fear that there 
cannot be an infinite variety of things unless there is also 
accepted variety in their principles: for the size, the position, 
the place are enough to explain this diversity. But I will not 
pretend to give the judge a physics lesson here; I wish only 
to warn the one who has this function that he should not 
hasten to carry out the sentence without having examined well 
the culprit, nor delight in seeking faults where there are none. 

For instance, do the scholars who today apply themselves to 
the study of nature reconcile themselves to the decision which 
comes from its tribunal? Today the judicious physicists do not 
pride themselves that they know the definite shapes of the par- 
ticles. This certainly would not be to the taste of a Robert 
Boyle who has said that knowledge of the particles was as nec- 
essary in natural science as the particles themselves are neces- 
sary in nature for the formation of bodies. All the physicists 
of some reputation who have followed this celebrated English- 
man have not diverged at all from his opinion; and they could 
not have done so without opening the door to the strangest 
consequences. We could as well say that we could learn to read 
without knowing the letters of the alphabet or determine the 
state of astronomy in the sky without any previous study of 
geometry. We have always considered it important to obtain 
a more exact knowledge of the shape of the particles. And 
even if we are not entirely successful, we have shown more 
leniency than our critic, all of whose words are judgments and 
proscriptions. 

In his report on the "Dissertation on the Elastic Force of 
the Air," we do not know if the journalist has dreamed or has 
wickedly invented what he makes the author say, that the cor- 
puscles of the air are smooth, an expression of which there is 
not the least trace in the work. He would seem to have con- 
fused the word levitas which occurs in 11 and which signifies 
the specific lightness with laevitas which has the meaning 
smooth. When someone reads so badly, he should not even 



280 



On the Duties of Journalists 

report to his readers, much less take such a haughty tone and 
say: But these particles are not smooth but a little rough. 
Zoilus is permitted to battle against these smooth corpuscles, 
but he should remember that he is battling against himself 
and these chimeras are purely his own invention. 

Let us pass to another dictatorial shaft, so ridiculous that it 
hardly merits mention. "This rotary motion of each particle 
in a direction opposite to that of the other/' says the critic, "is 
an entirely gratuitous supposition and has the air of a fable 
invented to please." What then can we say of this nonsense? 
Are we not permitted to propose particular examples to illus- 
trate universal laws? Lomonosov reports in 16 a case which, 
though rarely encountered when atoms of air strike each other, 
is not less real, and there are others which are similar in effect, 
that is, where the touching surfaces of two corpuscles tend at 
the same speed in the same direction. Other sorts of collision 
are further from these and have more force to produce mutual 
repulsion of the particles. However, the fury of the critic and 
his condemnation are still shown by the journalist and he con- 
tinues in these terms. 

"If all the particles are heavy and fall because of gravity, it 
will never happen that one will strike the other by falling on 
it since gravity impresses the same rate on all, and it is neces- 
sary to assume some other force which accelerates the upper 
one and slows the one below." Here we can say that the critic 
loses ground and sinks into pure imagination. For we who do 
not wish to leave the surface of the globe know very well that 
the surrounding atmosphere presses on this surface. This is why 
the lower particles of air cannot descend farther; the atmo- 
sphere prevents their fall. These in turn resist the particles 
which lie on them and there are successive collisions with these 
up to the surface of the atmosphere. There is no need to make 
an effort of the imagination to invent a new force which slows 
the particles when they fall from the air. Enlightened and just 
judges have no need of this warning, but we must say this for 
ourselves. 

An absurdity which he pretends to deduce from the theory 
of the elasticity of the air proposed by the Academician is that 
all fluids are no less elastic than air; and he adds, quite gratu- 
itously, that no other resource is left to the author than to 



281 



On the Duties of Journalists 

conceive of the elements o water and of nonelastic fluids (as 
he is pleased to call them) as reduced to an extreme degree of 
smallness and thus to save one hypothesis by the help of an- 
other. Strange sagacity in a man who pursues the most imper- 
ceptible trifles and who does not see the most obvious things 
when they are before his eyes. He has not deigned to pay the 
least attention to the elastic vapors of water and other liquids, 
nor to the cohesion which exists between their particles. More- 
over, daily experience shows to everyone who wishes to notice 
that water does not show an elasticity like that of air as long 
as the mutual cohesion of its parts lasts, that is to say, as long 
as the repulsive forces do not exceed the strength of cohesion. 
But as the rotary motion continuously increases, the repulsion 
finally begins to exceed the cohesion, and water passes into a 
vapor with the greatest elasticity. This is what Lomonosov has 
shown clearly in his "Dissertation on the Cause of Heat/' 23, 
but the haste of the critic has led him to leap over this point. 
From this then, according to the theory of the author, the 
rough particles not only can enter the composition of water 
and other liquids, but also into the production of elastic vapors, 
and it is useless for the critic to change them into particles of 
extreme lightness. 

Finally he turns his guns on the Dissertation which concerns 
the action of chemical solvents. There, without considering the 
reasoning or making any logical deductions, he speaks at ran- 
dom. We can see how little he understands his reading or how 
to capture the essentials of what he reads by the tacit avowal 
that he has not cast his eyes on 28 which contains the true 
essence of the memoir. If he had actually known this para- 
graph, could he have said, "The author should consider that 
when a solvent is exposed to the air it is pressed toward the 
metal by the weight of the atmosphere and this force ceases 
entirely in the vacuum of the pump, etc." But nothing is 
clearer than the description in the paragraph mentioned of the 
solution of copper in aqua fortis made not in a vacuum, but 
in the open air. And for the experiment described in 29, 
though it was made in a vacuum, there the notable difference 
in metal dissolved confirms the theory of the author against 
the attack of the critic, the more so that at the end of the same 
paragraph the reason for this difference is given. 



282 



On the Duties of Journalists 

Up to now we have given incontestable proofs of the in- 
capacity and of the extreme negligence of the journalist. But 
here is a point where his good faith is entirely suspect and 
where he appears to have designed formally to impose on the 
learned world the thought that the Memoirs of the Imperial 
Academy at St. Petersburg is a rare work which no one is able 
to consult. Confident of this, he then dares to attribute to the 
Academician a degree of ignorance, the denial of the existence 
of air in the pores of salts, which even the greatest novice in 
physics could not fail to know was wrong. It is as if he had no 
means of deducing anything from similar dissertations of the 
author, whatever violence he did to them, and the result is 
quite natural. For the words of 41 cannot be given the above 
meaning: they are air dispersed in water does not enter the 
pores of salts. To enter was never synonymous with to be con- 
tained. The Academician wished to say and could not wish to 
say anything else except that air did not enter from the water 
into the salts which it had dissolved. And it is not conceivable 
that this could be transformed into the assertion the pores of 
the salts do not contain any air. 

It must be very painful for the journalist to admit that 
Lomonosov has given a very happy explanation of the move- 
ment of air in mines, for it is in spite of himself that he is 
forced to concede this. However, he pretends still that it is 
defective in some respects. There are two points that he re- 
marks. First, he believes that he can scarcely admit that the 
temperature of the air remains the same for a long time at 
the bottom of the shafts. He is right, if he means a temperature 
exactly the same. But he should know that this is not a case 
of such a nature that we can apply the perfect rigor of geo- 
metric measures which cannot and should not apply. Thus the 
author has the right to suppose that those who live in mines 
can remain for a long time without noticing changes coming 
from the outside air. The critic says further that others who 
have examined the same phenomenon have reported that 
changes which come from the air into mines have no relation 
with winter and summer and that they depend uniquely on 
changes in atmospheric pressure at the same season of the year. 
In this respect anyone who is aware of the laws of aerometry 
and hydrostatics could never be persuaded if anyone told him 



283 



On the Duties of Journalists 

that similar observations had never been made. For when the 
weight of the atmosphere is increased or diminished the in- 
crease or decrease in pressure are equal and synchronous at 
such little distances as occur between two shafts. And indeed, 
if there actually were such differences in time and pressure, 
they would be so small and of such short duration that there 
would not occur any effect able to disturb the movement in 
the mines. But if there happened on summer days to be a cold 
approximating that of winter, or in the days of winter a sum- 
mer warmth, then it would be quite natural (and no one would 
be surprised at it) that the exchange in the outside air would 
be less apparent at the bottom of the mine, as Agricola has 
already noted. Since all this is of a nature which can be most 
easily understood by intelligent men, we need not trouble to 
show the greater difficulties and to aspire to a degree of pre- 
cision which means nothing in the present case and to formu- 
late a useless theory which would have to be abandoned in , 
practice. 

We must not forget a last mark of that rapidity which our 
judge believes he can combine with his severity, though these 
are incompatible. He imagines that Lomonosov in his "Supple- 
ment to the Reflections on the Elastic Force of Air" has chiefly 
wished to examine that property of the elastic air by which its 
force is proportional to its density. He deceives himself and 
deceives others in making this judgment. With a little more 
attention he could have seen that here the question is precisely 
the contrary and that it is affirmed that there is needed for 
condensing the air a compressing force much more considerable 
as the air is dispersed in more narrow limits; from which it 
results that the densities are not proportional to the forces. 

Can there be a more authentic conviction of all the defects 
which can lose for a journalist the credit and confidence which 
he hopes to obtain from the public? Can anyone with even a 
trace of shame and a residue of conscience justify such be- 
havior? For when anyone reports in this way the work of men 
of letters, he not only does harm to their reputations for which 
he has no right, but he stifles truth in presenting to his readers 
ideas which have no relation to those of the author, and it is 
natural to oppose forcefully such unjust behavior. If anyone 
continues thus to treat those who seek to benefit the republic 



284 



On the Duties of Journalists 

of letters, he will completely discourage them and the progress 
of science will be greatly slowed. This would be the complete 
destruction of the liberty of the philosopher. We must mark 
for such critics the proper limits within which they should 
confine themselves and which they cannot overstep with pru- 
dence. Here are the rules with which we conclude this dis- 
sertation, and we beg the journalist of Leipzig to remain in 
accord with them. 

1. Anyone who intends to inform the public what new 
works contain should first consider his power. He undertakes 
a very laborious and complicated task, for the point is not to 
report common things and simple generalities, but to pick out 
what is new and essential in works which are often those of 
great men. To report these things without justice and without 
taste is to expose them to scorn and laughter; this is like a 
dwarf who wishes to raise up mountains. 

2. To put oneself in a position to render a sincere and 
equable judgment, it is necessary to banish all prejudice, all 
predispositions of mind, and not to pretend that the authors 
with whom we meddle should servilely confine themselves to 
the ideas which dominate us, regarding those who are without 
these as true enemies on whom we must declare war. 

3. The writings on which we report should be divided into 
two classes. The first includes those which are the work of a 
single author who has written as a private person; the second 
those of whole societies published by their common consent 
and after a careful examination. Both certainly deserve all the 
circumspection and regard of the critic. Every work deserves 
that we observe the natural laws of equity and decency. But 
we should insist that the precautions should be doubled when 
we deal with works which already bear the seal of a respectable 
approval, which have been reviewed and judged worthy of ap- 
pearance by men whose collective knowledge should naturally 
be superior to that of a journalist, and before he ventures to 
condemn, he must weigh more than once what he wishes to 
say before he can sustain and justify it if the case requires it. 
As these kinds of writings are usually worked up carefully and 
the materials are treated systematically in them, the least 
omission or inattention can render judgments dangerous which 
by themselves are already discreditable, but which become 



285 



On the Duties of Journalists 

more so when negligence, ignorance, haste, partisan spirit, and 
bad faith show themselves in an evident manner. 

4. A journalist should not hasten to decry hypotheses. They 
are allowed in philosophical matters, and it is the only way in 
which great men have come to discover the most important 
truths. They are a type of soaring of the mind which has led 
to gaining knowledge such as abject spirits, creeping in the 
dust, never reach. 

5. A journalist should especially learn that there is nothing 
more dishonorable for him than to steal from some of his col- 
leagues the reflections and judgments which they have pro- 
posed and to take the honor to himself when he scarcely knows 
the titles of the books which he tears to pieces. This is very 
often the case with a rash writer who decides to undertake the 
abstracting of works on physics and medicine. 

6. A journalist is allowed to refute what appears to him to 
deserve this in new works even though this is not his direct 
object or his own vocation, but when he does this, he should 
properly state the doctrine of the author, analyze all his proofs, 
and oppose them with real difficulties and solid reasoning be- 
fore he arrogates to himself the right to condemn. Simple 
doubts and arbitrary questions do not give him this right, for 
no one is ignorant of the fact that it is possible to formulate 
many more questions than the most expert man can answer. 
Above all a journalist should not imagine that what he does 
not understand and cannot explain also holds for the author 
who may have had reasons for shortening and omitting certain 
things. 

7. Finally, he should never gain too high an idea o his 
superiority, his authority, and the value of his judgments. Since 
the function which he exercises is already by itself disagreeable 
to the self esteem of those who are its object, he would be en- 
tirely wrong to displease them willingly and to force them to 
bring to light his deficiencies. 



286 



Index 



Absolute cold, 111, 212 

Academy of Sciences, Berlin, 28, 29, 31, 

149 
Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, 

5-11, 24, 28, 34, 35, 39, 40, 42, 47, 59, 

99, 119, 138, 149, 186, 203, 224, 233, 

247, 269; laboratory of, 9, 89-91, 

147n; publications of, 28, 42, 277, 283 
Acid, nitric. See Niter, spirit of 
Acid, universal, 58, 146, 155, 157, 158, 

168 
Acid, vitriolic, 142, 148, 153, 156, 157, 

158, 164, 177, 179, 182, 184 
Acids, 86, 148, 155, 156; solution in, 

123-134, 141, 145, 271, 272 
Air, 20, 26, 31, 32, 71, 72, 124, 125-134, 

135, 136, 181, 182, 183, 184, 203-216, 

217-223, 272, 273, 281, 284 
Alkali, fixed, 153, 154, 156, 159, 161, 

162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 168, 178, 179 
Alkali, volatile, 174, 175, 178, 179, 180 
Analysis, 151, 183 
Anne, empress, 7 
Arnold, J. C., 42 
Arsenic, 145, 146, 147 
Astronomy, 10 
Atoms, 13, 15, 16, 17, 20, 32, 39, 206, 

207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214 

Baume, A., 29n 

Becher, J. J., 27, 142 

Bernoulli, D., 17, 32, 33, 45, 46, 217, 

218, 220 
Biren, E, J., 7 
Boas, M., 39 

Boerhaave, H., 19, 20, 23, 115, 216 
Bourdelin, C. L., 163, 164, 165 
Boyle, R., 13, 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 

25, 31, 45, 46, 61, 114, 151, 182, 216, 

280 

Boyle's law, 18, 32, 217, 222-223 
Braun, I. A., 34, 43, 233 

Caloric. See Fire material 
Catherine the Great, empress, 8 
Cavendish, H., 28 
Charles XII, king of Sweden, 10 
Chemistry, 14, 18, 21, 39, 51-58, 186-202; 

physical, course in, 10, 18, 19, 59-93 
Cohesion, 19, 33, 34, 58, 62, 63, 71, 92, 

101-105, 110, 131, 132, 192, 232, 

233-242 
Cold. See Absolute cold; Heat, nature 

of 
Colors, 65, 66, 67, 192, 269; primary, 35, 



36, 65, 66, 67, 260, 261, 262, 263; 

theories of, 9, 21, 31, 35, 36, 37, 38, 

58, 247, 248, 249, 260, 262, 263, 264, 

265, 266, 267, 268 
Conservation of matter and motion, 

33, 229, 234, 235 
Corpuscles, 23, 31, 32, 33, 34, 45, 57, 

68, 230, 235, 236, 237, 257, 279, 280 
Corpuscular theory, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 

23, 31, 34, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 44, 46, 

47, 48, 59, 99, 232 
Critics of Lomonosov's theories, 42, 43, 

270-274; answer to, 275-286 
Crystal form, 169 

D'Arcet, J. P. J., 29n 

Density, 33, 34, 226, 227, 228, 231 

Descartes, R., 16, 21, 27, 35, 36, 37, 46, 

249, 271 

Diamond, density of, 228, 252, 253, 256 
Dorfman, Ya. G., 44, 45 
Duclos, S. C., 115 
Duising, J. G., 6, 7, 20, 21 

Earths, 58, 88, 159, 160, 166, 167 
Elasticity of gases, 18, 26, 31, 52, 33, 58, 

126, 127-134, 136, 181, 182, 183, 184, 

203-216, 217-223, 272, 273, 278, 281, 

282, 284 

Electricity, 38, 39, 258, 259 
Elements, 13, 17, 56, 57 
Elizabeth II, empress, 7, 31, 186, 202, 

246, 269 
Ercker, L., 179 
Ether, 36, 37, 46, 116, 117, 225, 226, 249, 

250, 251, 252, 253, 255, 256, 257, 258, 

259, 260, 261, 265; structure of, 259, 

260, 262 

Euler, L., 8, 9, 18, 25, 28, 34, 43, 99, 149, 
224, 247, 275 

Figurovskii, N. A., 19 

Fire. See Heat 

Fire material, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 45, 46, 

47, 112-118, 237, 254, 255, 271. See 

also Phlogiston 
Formey, J. H. S., 15, 275 
Franklin, B., 43 
Freezing: of mercury, 34, 35, 43, 233, 

242-245; of water, 32, 128, 218-221, 

227 

Freind, J., 137 
Friction, 105-107, 152, 206, 209, 210, 

257, 258, 271, 280, 281 
Furnaces, 89-91 



287 



Index 



Galileo, 16 

Gases, kinetics of, 17, 18. See also 

Elasticity of gases 
Gassendi, P., 16, 249, 253 
Geography, 10 

Gold, density of, 226, 227, 231 
Grammar, Russian, 10 
Gravity: specific, 92, 231; theories of, 

17, 21, 25, 33, 36, 210, 211, 228, 229, 

230, 232, 238, 273 
Gunpowder, 29, 31, 61, 113, 149, 153, 

183, 184, 185, 200, 201, 217 

Hales, S., 127, 182, 183, 216 

Heat: effects of, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 130, 
135, 193, 194, 195, 209, 210, 212, 240; 
nature of, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 31, 
32, 36, 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 58, 99-118, 
253, 254, 255, 257, 265, 270, 271, 273, 
278, 279 

Heinsius, G., 137 

Henkel, J. F., 5, 6, 7, 21, 28, 145 

Herapath, J., 46 

Hoefer, F., 40 

Homberg, W., 159 

Hooke, R., 45 

Huygens, C., 249 

Kestner, Professor, 270 

Kieselguhr, 180 

Kinetic theory, 18, 31, 41, 46, 208, 209, 

221-223, 247 
Kirwan, R., 44 
Korf, Baron, 5, 6 
Kunckel, J., 19, 167 

Laboratories, description of, 89-91 
Laplace, P. S., 44, 45, 47 
Lavoisier, A. L., 25, 29n, 44, 45, 47 
Leibniz, G. W., 11,12, 13, 14 
Lemery, L., 162, 164, 177 
Le Sage, G. L., 46 

Light, theory of, 21, 35, 36, 116, 247, 
248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 255, 256 
Lightning, 38, 43 
Lomonosov, V. D., 3 
Lomonosov museum, 11 
Lyubimov, 41 

Macquer, P. J., 29n, 44 

Magnesia, 174, 179 

Magnitskii, 4 

Mariotte, E., 35n, 261 

Mass, 224-232 

Mathematics, in science, 12, 13, 31, 54, 

55, 190, 191, 279 
Mayow, J,, 45 



Mechanics, 15, 27, 30, 31, 36, 54, 58, 59, 
190, 226 

Medicine, 193 

Menshutkin, B. N., 11, 22, 40, 51, 99, 
149, 203 

Mercury: density of, 228; freezing of, 
34, 35, 43, 233, 242-245 

Metallurgy, 10, 195, 196, 197, 198 

Metals, 88; combustion of, 23, 24, 25, 
34, 45, 114, 115, 139, 140, 232; 
formation of, 21, 28, 143, 144, 148, 
274; luster and ductility of, 26, 27, 
28, 46, 122, 138-148, 274; solution in 
acids, 123-134, 141, 145, 271, 272 

Meteorology, 10 

Mineralogy, 10, 39, 138 

Mines, air in, 283, 284 

Monads, 13 

Mosaics, 9, 10, 18, 31, 35, 39, 40, 199, 
268 

Moscow, University of, 10, 40 

Mussenbroeck, P., 132, 220, 221 

Nerve conduction, 258, 261, 266 

Neumann, K,, 163, 164, 167 

Newton, L, 13, 14, 17, 21, 33, 34, 35, 36, 

38, 225, 234, 249, 250, 253, 261 
Niter, 28, 29, 30, 31, 39, 43, 141, 

149-185 
Niter, spirit of, 157, 158, 159, 167, 168, 

175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 181, 182 

Odor, 67, 192, 193 

Operations, laboratory, 74-85, 94-98 

Optics, 9, 31, 35, 190, 247 

Paracelsus, 35, 36 

Paul, grand duke, 269 

Pekarskii, P. P., 40, 41 

Perevoshchikov, D. M., 41 

Peter the Great, czar, 5, 10, 202, 245, 
269 

Peter, grand duke, 269 

Phlogiston, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 
46, 58, 114, 122, 138, 141, 142, 143, 
144, 145, 146, 148, 157, 158, 159, 163, 
164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 176, 185, 274 

Physics, 10, 14, 18, 21, 27, 35, 60 

Pietsch, Dr., 29, 30, 31, 149 

Poetry, Lomonosov's, 7, 40 

Pomper, P., 25 

Pott, J. H., 27, 28, 145, 147 

Quicklime, 178, 179, 181 

Razumovskii, count, 8, 147n 
Reiser, G., 6 



288 



Richmann, G. W., 32, 43, 44, 45, 217, 

220 

Roberval, G. P., 205 
Robins, B., 183 

Sage, B. G., 29n 

Salts, 85, 86, 94-97; solution of, 26, 94, 

95, 134, 135, 136, 272, 283 
Scheele, C. W., 44 
Schumacher, J. D., 5, 7, 8, 10, 149 
Se'guin, A., 47 

Slavo-Greco-Latin Academy, 4 
Smotritskii, 4 
Solution, 26, 94, 95, 97, 98, 119-137, 

145, 271, 272, 282 
Sound, 36, 212, 213, 215, 256 
Stahl, G. E., 19, 20, 27, 30, 163, 164, 

181 

Stiles, E., 43 

Sulfur, 144, 145, 146, 147 
Swedenborg, E., 145 
Synthesis, 151, 153, 183 



Index 

Tartar, 164, 165 
Taste, 67, 193 
Taubert, I. K., 10 

Ust Ruditsky glass factory, 9, 10 

Vinogradov, D., 6 
Virgil, 143n 
Vucinich, A., 47 

Water, 58, 72, 73, 134, 135, 136, 226, 
227, 231; freezing of, 32, 128, 218-221, 
227 

Weight, 224-232 

Wolff, C., 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 
20, 52, 54, 55, 56, 126, 279 

Yaremskii, 186 
Young, T., 247 

Zilch, E., 7 



289 



A Portrait of Isaac Newton 

Frank E, Manuel 



"I am terribly impressed by Frank Manuel's 
Isaac Newton book, It is a triumph, a perfect 
fusing of broad philosophical vision and metic- 
ulous scholarship," 
A,H.Maslow 

"Working in a tradition that is well established 
though not, because of its extraordinary de- 
mands, widely Mowed, Manuel has exploited 
the vast body of Newtonian manuscripts to 
produce a historical psychoanalysis , . , He has 
produced a stimulating and provocative book, 
which uses the devices of psychoanalysis to 
place the study of Newton the man on a new 
foundation ... It is a portrait of Newton such as 
no one has been able to produce before, not 
merely superior to others but vastly superior," 
Science 

The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 
Cambridge, Massachusetts 
SEN 674-69100-8 




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