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Química Nova

Print version ISSN 0100-4042On-line version ISSN 1678-7064


PORTO, Paulo Alves. The physician George Thomson and the early developments of the concept of gas. Quím. Nova [online]. 2001, vol.24, n.2, pp.286-292. ISSN 0100-4042.

The word gas was coined by the "chemical philosopher" Joan Baptista Van Helmont (1579 ¾ 1644) to name a very broad concept in his chemico-medical system. Eventually, some physicians who followed Helmontian ideas adopted the concept. The present paper aims to analyze the reception of the original idea of gas by an English Helmontian physician, George Thomson (1619 ¾ 1677). Thomson wrote that the "material cause" of the plague was a gas, and compared it to the "Gas of sulphur". He also related the human archeus to a gas, and explained some observations in the laboratory in terms of production of gases. We observe, however, that Thomson was not as interested as Van Helmont in discussing details about the structure of the matter. Thus, gas did not have the same relevance in Thomson's work as it had in Van Helmont's.

Keywords : gas; George Thomson; seventeenth-century chemistry.

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