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Chemistry explores the way atoms interact, the constitution of the stars, and the human genome. Knowledge of chemistry makes it possible for us to manufacture dyes and antibiotics, metallic alloys, and other materials that contribute to the necessities and luxuries of human life. In Transforming Matter, noted historian Trevor H. Levere emphasizes that understanding the history of these developments helps us to appreciate the achievements of generations of chemists.
Levere examines the dynamic rise of chemistry from the study of alchemy in the seventeenth century to the development of organic and inorganic chemistry in the age of government-funded research and corporate giants. In the past two centuries, he points out, the number of known elements has quadrupled. And because of synthesis, chemistry has increasingly become a science that creates much of what it studies.
Throughout the book, Levere follows a number of recurring themes: theories about the elements, the need for classification, the status of chemical science, and the relationship between practice and theory. He illustrates these themes by concentrating on some of chemistry's most influential and innovative practitioners. Transforming Matter provides an accessible and clearly written introduction to the history of chemistry, telling the story of how the discipline has developed over the years.