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ERIC Number: EJ938869
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Dec
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 36
ISSN: ISSN-1449-6313
Elizabeth Fulhame: The Invisible Chemist
Palmer, Bill
Teaching Science, v54 n4 p12-16 Dec 2008
An awareness of the history of science is important for tomorrow's science teachers. It provides a human dimension to a field such as chemistry that is often regarded by students as remote and impersonal. Elizabeth Fulhame was an accomplished research chemist of the late eighteenth century who was well known to the prominent chemists of her era but is virtually unknown today. All she left us was a single slim volume entitled "An Essay on Combustion". This book is quite remarkable: it is an exemplar of experimental scientific method, which details her painstaking investigation of new types of chemical reaction, and includes her opinion about the major theoretical issue of her time, the concept of phlogiston. In "An Essay on Combustion" Fulhame argued that the phlogiston theory was incorrect. However, she also rejected Lavoisier's views, which are the basis for current thought. Fulhame's integrity, logical consistency and independence of opinion shine through her extraordinary little book. This study will comment on the value of her work both as a chemist and as a role model, as she exemplifies desirable qualities to be valued in scientists of any era. In conclusion, the case is put that a copy of "An Essay on Combustion" should be available in all school or university libraries, so that students may judge the value of Elizabeth Fulhame's work for themselves. (Contains 1 figure.)
Australian Science Teachers Association. P.O. Box 334, Deakin West, ACT 2600, Australia. Tel: +61-02-6282-9377; Fax: +61-02-6282-9477; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A