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Roger Bacon, English philosopher and alchemist

Roger Bacon, English philosopher and alchemist

H402/0302

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Credit

GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Roger Bacon. Portrait of the English philosopher and alchemist, Roger Bacon (c.1214-1292). He studied at Oxford and in Paris, before becoming a Franciscan monk around 1247. Bacon had many of his works suppressed and was imprisoned for 14 years at the end of his life. He was neither an experimentalist nor a mathematician but believed these approaches were needed for science. He foresaw man controlling nature; made predictions (however imprecise) on mechanical land transport, air and undersea transport; first suggested that man could circumnavigate the earth; and mentioned gunpowder. Bacon foreshadowed Paracelsus by claiming alchemy was essential to medicine.

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