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Islamic "alchemists" not "chemists"

Reader comment on item: Saudi Scholar Nixes Biofuels as Un-Islamic

Submitted by Rouvain Bension (United States), Mar 3, 2009 at 08:54

The Monitor article is too sloppy. The Moslems of the 8th and 9th centuries were alchemists (another Arabic-based term), not chemists. There is an important difference with possible propaganda implications.

The latter follow the scientific method of hypothesis–experiment–theory–experiment–law. Chemistry as a science is dated by agreement from August 1, 1774, with the discovery of oxygen by Joseph Priestley.

The former dabbled in secret arts bordering on superstition akin to the Philosopher's Stone. One can hardly glorify their efforts with an appellation of modern scholarship. (And they certainly didn't distill pure ethanol from wine; the best one can do by that process is 95% ethanol, 5% water.)

Submitting....

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