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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 2004 > Article Detail

MARGINALIA

Meissen Chymistry

Roald Hoffmann

 

Figure 1. The subject of this undated portrait . . .Click to Enlarge Image

The art of making porcelain was a Chinese technology known and valued in the West, yet Europe tried—and failed—to emulate this secret for hundreds of years. Porcelain was eventually made in Saxony in 1709, in a successful piece of applied chemical research by the "collaboration" of three men of strikingly different character. One of these, Johann Friedrich Böttger, was an alchemist who, in his life and work, illustrated the scant separation of alchemy and chemistry during that time. Let me tell their story.








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