The sceptical chymist
Robert Boyle(1627-1691)
 The Aristotelian theory the matter consisted of four elements: earth, fire, air and water, accepted since Greek antiquity, was transformationally inherited by alchemists throughout the mediaeval ages. For example, Parachelsus maintained that his “tria prima” was sulpher, mercury and salt. In this work, Boyle denied theories in chemistry from the Aristotelian tradition in which the elements of matter possessed mysterious power to control the production of matter by magical bonds of elements.
 It was not that Boyle completely disbelieved alchemy. He even thought that it was possible to make gold through a more rational method. As a Baconean, however, Boyle insisted an element could be obtained only through experimentation and must be a particle which is indivisible. He could not identify what particle was, but distinguished the compound from the mixture and verified that the compound could be reduced into simpler parts through a series of experiments. He conjectured that matter consisted of those particles, and that the quality of matter charged according to form, side, motion and cluster of particles.
 Although Boyle was not aware of the difference between the molecule and the atom, and his particle theory was no more than a dynamic one, he had obviously introduced the mechanistic view of chemistry. He also separated chemistry from its position, as an abigail for medicine, and gave it a new position as an independent science. Thus, this work marks the transition from alchemy to modern chemistry.
 At that time, private meetings among scientists at Oxford were held frequently, where they could present their new knowledge, hold discussions, and exchange information. Boyle was one of the influential members of this “invisible college”. This intellectual circle evolved into an organized institution, as Bacon had once anticipated, and came to be known as the Royal Society. Boyle, one of the originators of this society, became one of the society’s leading scientists in its initial period.