The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Becher, Johann Joachim

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Becher, Johann Joachim
Edition of 1920. See also J. J. Becher on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

BECHER, Johann Joachim, bĕH'ėr, yō'hän yō'ä-Hīm, German chemist: b. Speyer 1635; d. 1682. He traveled and resided in various parts of Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden and Great Britain, investigating Cornish and Scotch mines. He wrote a number of works on chemistry, the chief of which is entitled ‘Physica Subterranea.’ In it he expounds his views on the composition of inorganic bodies, the constituents of which, according to him, are three earthy principles, the vitrifiable, the combustible and the mercurial. The metals consist of these three earths in different proportions, and whenever a metal is calcined the combustible and mercurial earths are expelled, and the vitrifiable earth forms the residual calx. When these principles are combined with water different salts are formed, and a fundamental acid, which exists in all the others. This theory was subsequently developed by Stahl, who, by means of the principle of phlogiston (q.v.), explained not only the calcination of metals, but the phenomena of combustion in general.