By J. R. Partington
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Homberg now decided to abandon law and studied science and medicine at Padua, Bologna (where he experimented on the Bolognian stone, phosphorescent barium sulphide, see Vol. II, p. 334), and Rome (where he worked with the astronomer Cellio, who published a work on the Bolognian s t o n e ) . Homberg also studied music and art. He passed through France, where he studied with Lemery, to London to work in Boyle’s laboratory. D . and became acquain ted with Kunckel and interested in phosphorus (see Vol.
II, p. 230), coral, pearls, mother of pearl, bezoars, human calculus, oyster shells, calcined hartshorn, quicklime and slaked lime, bole, Tripoli earth and terra sigillata — a curious set. ’ The weights of the same alkali which neutralise identical weights of different acids measure the ‘active force’ of each acid, whilst the weights of the same acid which neutralise identical weights of different alkalis measure the ‘passive force’ of each alkali. ^ He recog nises as the principles of vegetables and animals (which he thinks form only one class) salt, sulphur, water and earth.
He proved that iron is present in plants and is not generated by their combustion,® as Geoffrov thought (see p. 50). He^^ differed from his father’s explanation of phos phorescence (see p. 36) and suggested that phosphorescent bodies act like sponges towards light, absorbing it, but retaining it with such feeble power that very trivial causes suffice for its extrication. H om berg Wilhelm Homberg (Batavia, Java, 8 January 1652-Paris, 24 September 17^5) so*' of Johann Homberg, a German from Saxony in the service of the Dutch East India Company, and commander of the Arsenal in Batavia.