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The Chemical History of a Candle

The Chemical History of a Candle by Michael Faraday
By: (1791-1867)

The Chemical History of a Candle is a series of 6 lectures on chemistry presented to a juvenile audience in 1848. Taught by Michael Faraday - a chemist and physist, and regarded as the best experimentalist in the history of science - it is probably the most famous of the Christmas Lectures of the Royal Society.

Taking the everyday burning of a candle as a starting point, Faraday spans the arc from combustion and its products, via the components of water and air (oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon), back to the type of combustion that happens in the human body when we breathe.

The final lecture "On Platinum" describes a then new method to produce large quantities of Platinum. It was delivered before the Royal Institution on February 22, 1861.

First Page:

THE CHEMICAL HISTORY OF A CANDLE

A COURSE OF LECTURES DELIVERED BEFORE A JUVENILE AUDIENCE AT THE ROYAL INSTITUTION

BY

MICHAEL FARADAY, D.C.L., F.R.S.

EDITED BY

WILLIAM CROOKES, F.C.S.

A NEW IMPRESSION, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

LONDON

CHATTO & WINDUS

1908

PREFACE

From the primitive pine torch to the paraffin candle, how wide an interval! between them how vast a contrast! The means adopted by man to illuminate his home at night, stamp at once his position in the scale of civilisation. The fluid bitumen of the far East, blazing in rude vessels of baked earth; the Etruscan lamp, exquisite in form, yet ill adapted to its office; the whale, seal, or bear fat, filling the hut of the Esquimaux or Lap with odour rather than light; the huge wax candle on the glittering altar, the range of gas lamps in our streets, all have their stories to tell... Continue reading book >>


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