Jan Baptista van Helmont, Belgian alchemist

Jan Baptista van Helmont, Belgian alchemist


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Jan van Helmont. Engraving of Jan (or Johannes) Baptista van Helmont (1579-1644), Belgian chemist and alchemist, in his laboratory. Most of the work done by Van Helmont (at right) was done on his estate at Vilvorde, near Brussels. This work represents a transition from traditional alchemy to experimental chemistry. He was the first person to use the word "gas", deriving it from the Greek word "chaos". He realised that matter was indestructable and that metals dissolved in acid could be recovered. He believed that all matter was made of a combination of air and water. He tried to prove it with tree experiments, making him the "father of biochemistry".

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