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(2,051 words)

Author(s): Snyder, James G. | Meinel, Christoph
1. ConceptUntil well into the early modern era, theories of matter arose within more general theories of  substance. When considering the nature of the fundamental entities of reality, ancient philosophers raised questions concerning the immutable vehicle of shifting properties and changing substances and reflected on what (if anything) can be known about it. The conception of matter as the basic stuff underlying all things is reflected in the Greek word hyle (Latin materia): literally it means the wood of a tree, from which something can be fashioned; philosophical…
Date: 2019-10-14


(747 words)

Author(s): Meinel, Christoph
Fermentation (from the Latin  fermentum; “fermentation agent”, “leaven”) is one of the oldest biotechnological methods for conserving foodstuffs and manufacturing alcoholic beverages (e.g. Beer; Wine). Today, all technical transformations of a biological substrate using microorganisms or enzymes is called fermentation, but until the 19th century, the term denoted biological reactions in the absence of air, especially alcoholic fermentation. The theory of fermentation in this period was at the heart …
Date: 2019-10-14

Agricultural chemistry

(743 words)

Author(s): Meinel, Christoph
Since Antiquity, organic and mineral manuring has been used to improve crop yield. In the 17th century, Paracelsism gave the initial stimulus to a chemical investigation of surface soil and plant constituents. But chemical fertilization, in the form suggested during the English Revolution by the reformist circle of Samuel Hartlib [6. 384–402] or by the chemist Johann Rudolf Glauber, remained ineffective, because key questions of plant nutrition remained unanswered. While some, following Johann Baptist van Helmont (1577-1644), saw the supposed…
Date: 2019-10-14

Affinity, chemical

(779 words)

Author(s): Meinel, Christoph
An early concept to explain chemical bonding, affinity described substances’ desire to bond with one another. Experiences from commercial chemical practices in the 17th century were thus brought together in a theoretical concept [5], at first explained in animistic or mechanistic terms, then from Isaac Newton onwards in terms of a substance-specific bonding “force.” Convinced of the lawful unity of nature, Newton had proposed in his  Principia mathematica scientiae naturalis (1687) that all natural phenomena should be attributable to forces of attraction and r…
Date: 2019-10-14
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