phlogiston

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phlo·gis·ton

(flō-jis'tŏn),
A hypothetical substance of negative mass that, according to the theory of G.E. Stahl, was given off by a substance when it underwent combustion, thus accounting for the decrease in mass of the ash over the original substance; abandoned after the discoveries of Priestley and Lavoisier concerning oxygen.
[G. phlogistos, inflammable]
References in periodicals archive ?
Positivist-whig historians claimed that Boyle's work was neglected because early-eighteenth-century chemists became engrossed in the erroneous and speculative phlogiston theory.
For the young, especially, socialism is rapidly receding into the category of anciently powerful social concept now needing a lot of contextualizing, like the phlogiston theory, the divine right of kings, the vaginal orgasm.
This killed the phlogiston theory, although a few important chemists continued to accept phlogiston for some decades longer.
Thus there are two major theses to the book: the primary one involves a cognitive analysis of such conceptual changes as the chemical revolution in which Stahl's phlogiston theory was overturned by Lavoisier's oxygen theory; the Darwinian revolution that replaced the conception of special creation; the geological revolution whereby the theory of plate tectonics superceded that of continental drift; the revolutions initiated by Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, and Planck; and the twentieth-century revolutions in psychology involving behaviorism and the rise of cognitivism.
Early scientists behaved in a similar way when they used the name "heat" and, because a name existed for "something", went looking for the substance represented by that name: the result was the phlogiston theory, ultimately replaced by Joseph Priestley's discovery of oxygen and the chemical nature of combustion.
Dudman (1981, 1983, 1984) argued hard for that relocation of Doesn't-will; and a paper of mine - insolently titled "Farewell to the Phlogiston Theory of Conditionals" (1988) - poured gasoline onto the fire.