Home » Segments » Butter of Antimony, Flowers of Zinc

Butter of Antimony, Flowers of Zinc

Play episode
Butter of antimony, blue vitriol, flowers of zinc are terms used for centuries by alchemists, now replaced by the scientific names antimony trichloride, cupric sulfate, and powdered zinc oxide. In his delightful memoir Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood (Bookshop|Amazon) Oliver Sacks explains how the standardization of such chemical names by the French scientist Antoine Lavoisier and others provides a better understanding of how these substances interact with others. The trade-off, however, is losing a bit of poetry along the way. Sacks is also the author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. (Bookshop|Amazon) This is part of a complete episode.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from this show

Unta Is for Sopping Up the Last Bites

Corey in Buffalo, New York, says her family uses the word unta for “the piece of bread you use to sop up the last bite of what you’re eating.” They also use it as a verb, as in I’m going to unta. Her family is half Sephardic...

Recent posts

Segments