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From man's first exploration of natural materials and their transformations to today's materials science, chemistry has always been the central discipline that underpins both the physical and biological sciences, as well as technology. In this Very Short Introduction, William H Brock traces the unique appeal of this fundamental science throughout history. Covering alchemy, early-modern chemistry, pneumatic chemistry and Lavoisier's re-interpretation of chemical change, the rise of organic and physical chemistry, and the transforming power of synthesis, Brock explores the extraordinary and often puzzling transformations of natural and artificial materials, as well as the men and women who experimented, speculated, and explained matter and change. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.