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Theory and Practice

Theory and Practice

Starkey's Laboratory Methodology

Chapter:
(p.92) Three Theory and Practice
Source:
Alchemy Tried in the Fire
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226577050.003.0004

Starkey's working laboratory methodology proved to be coherent and sophisticated in several ways. Starkey also developed the quantitative techniques of Helmontian chymistry into labor-saving and cost-monitoring tools intended to improve the industrial efficiency of his laboratory. A careful consideration of the projects allows for the documenting and exploring of Starkey's thought processes and experimental methodology as well as his broader aims for chymistry, both philosophical and intellectual. The notebooks bear witness to his commitment to such practical laboratory issues as experimental design, the interplay of theory and practice, the sources of authority and proof, quantitative methods, the analysis and assessment of experimental results, and even the value of failure in experimental work. Starkey was a highly reflective laboratory worker, and his notebooks are full of his cogitations on the nature and method of investigative laboratory science as he pursued it in the mid-seventeenth century.

Keywords:   Starkey, laboratory science, Helmontian chymistry, quantitative techniques, theory

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