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History

The ancient Egyptians began gathering knowledge about matter and organizing it into systems, developing what is now known as alchemy, which mixed science with metaphysics. This was the beginning of chemistry. Alchemists concentrated their efforts on trying to convert lead and other common metals into gold. Alchemy dominated the European chemical scene until modern chemistry started to replace it in the 18th century.

In the late 1700s, Antoine Lavoisier discovered that the weight of the products of a chemical reaction always equaled the combined weight of the original reactants. This discovery became known as the law of the conservation of matter. In the 1800s, the work of scientists such as John Dalton, Humphrey Davy, Michael Faraday, Amadeo Avogadro, Dmitri Mendeleyev, and Julius Meyer laid the foundations for modern chemistry. The latter two men independently established the periodic law and periodic table of elements, making chemistry a rational, predictable science. The technological advances of the Industrial Revolution provided both the necessity and the incentive to get rid of alchemy and make chemistry the science it is today.

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