ConversationTransition to Modern Chemistry: Narrator: Listen to part of a conversation between the student and his European history professor Professor: So, how are you doing, Sam? Sam: Well, I can't complain. Professor: Good. Now earlier you started telling me that you want to do something on. Sam: Alchemy. Professor: Alchemy, right? Sam: Yes, I want to get across how in the 17th and 18th centuries Europeans thought alchemy was a science. You know like we think of physics or biology today. Professor: Okay. But of course that's something you could get across in a single sentence. In fact you just did. Sam: Right. Now the main focus is going to be on the transition. You know the transition from alchemy to actual modern chemistry. Professor: Okay. Sam: And I came across this theory I thought I might be able to use. It's called the phlogiston theory. It was a theory in the 1600s and 1700s that tried to explain the phenomenon of fire. Alchemists believed that phlogiston was some kind of mysterious fluid, a colorless and odorless fluid that was given off into the air during combustion and substances that burned were thought to be rich in phlogiston. The whole theory seems a little bizarre. Professor: Yes. But at that time it explained a lot of things that alchemists had observed but didn't understand. For example why do substances lose mass when they burn? I mean you and I know why because scientists eventually figured it out for us, but otherwise it'd be pretty mysterious. Another example, why does the fire go out if you enclose it in, say, some kind of metal box? Either known about you but I don't think I would'e figured that out on my own. Sam: No, you are right. Professor: So, at that time phlogiston made a lot of sense to a lot of people. In fact it took quite a bit of work to get people to reject the theory. Sam: Right, I read that. Professor: Okay. So you see phlogiston's a sort of link between alchemy and modern chemistry. Sam: Yes. I read about the French scientist to disprove the theory and about the experiments he conducted. He didn't just watch fire burn like the alchemists did. He also weighed things, collected various other kinds of data and I think that could be considered the start of modern chemistry, you know, the idea of carefully gathering and analyzing data. Professor: Okay, Now for the purposes of this paper, I'd like you to situate the scientific proress in a broader historical narrative. Explain how it fit in with what else was happening in Europe at the time. Sam: Okay. Professor: For instance, was this sort of experimentation an isolated event in Europe? Sam: I don't think so. There were a lot of new ideas in Europe during the 18th century. It wasn't just in science. It was also in the arts and politics. Professor: Right. Okay so don't dwell on those other areas. But make sure we understand the greater context for this transition you're going to discuss.