Společnost pro dějiny věd a techniky
Society for the History of Sciences and Technology

Abstracts of Papers

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Dějiny věd a techniky, No. 4, Vol. LIII (2020)


DVT 204, 213
Obrazy alchymických laboratorií: jak vystihují skutečnost? ● Vladimír Karpenko

The depictions of alchemical laboratories: How much do they reflect the reality? The paper analyzes approaches at the reconstruction of an alchemical laboratory as depicted in the paintings of old masters. Problem of different indirect sources is outlined, because no original laboratory has survived intact up to the present. There are archeological findings, and, more importantly, written evidence. Works of metallurgists and assayers of the period (V. Biringuccio, G. Agricola, L. Ercker) were consulted, as well as treatises of several outstanding alchemists (Sebald Schwertzer, Mathäus Brandau, Michael Maier, and Heinrich Khunrath). Further sources include accounts for equipment, and correspondence between laboratory owners. The works of the alchemists usually provide recipes, and based on them, we may figure out what kind of equipment was used. Finally, these findings are compared with three works (paintings and engravings) by the masters from 16 and 17th century.

Keywords: alchemical laboratory • laboratory equipment • instruments • metallurgists, alchemists • old paintings

The present paper discusses whether the paintings by old masters can yield a reliable picture of an alchemical laboratory. The paintings have been compared with indirect sources, as no intact laboratory survived to the present day; there are only remnants of them, in the better case, empty spaces. For this discussion two main groups of sources are suitable: material objects and written evidence. The first kind is usually the content of waste pits typically mixed with fragments of used vessels. Glass and ceramic dominate, whereas metallic objects are scarce, as they could be recycled. Rests of the substances that are sometimes discovered on the vessel fragments allow us to make conclusions about the processes performed in them, but similar compounds as on vessels of alchemists may also appear on those of apothecaries. The second kind of sources, the written ones, can be subdivided into two groups. The first one includes treatises of metallurgists and assayers describing the technical aspects of their work accompanied with illustrations of their instruments and workshops for the individual procedures. It can be extended to alchemists, because they used the same technical equipment. For the purpose of the present paper, the books by V. Biriguccio, G. Agricola, and L. Ercker have been consulted. Not only books are in direct relation to alchemy, but also rarely preserved accounts for equipment. Books written by alchemists usually focus on processes without mentioning the equipment. Based on these recipes, conclusions about necessary instruments can be drawn. As sources of information, the treatises by Sebald Schwertzer, Mathäus Brandau, Michael Maier, and Heinrich Khunrath have been consulted. Space disposition of laboratories is difficult to generalise; they vacillated between small rooms of Claudius Syrrus, to spacious Brahe’s laboratory in Uraniborg. On a yet larger scale, the domus chemiae was proposed by Libavius, which, however, was never constructed. Khunrath’s ideal integrated a laboratory and an oratorio. The question as to how many alchemists shared one laboratorium remains open, but it appeares that they mostly preferred to work alone. All these data are compared with three engravings from the 16th and 17th centuries, two by Phillip Galle (the second based on the painting of Jan van der Straete), and one by Michen and Lorieux (based on David Teniers, Jr.). The first engraving, interestingly, shows everything typical for a laboratory, the second one could have been both an alchemical place as well as a distiller’s workshop. Finally, the last example shows a typical genre painting of the period. This comparison documents what a variety of sources should be considered when discussing authenticity of alchemical laboratories in old paintings and engravings.

Prof. RNDr. Vladimír Karpenko, CSc.
Katedra filosofie a dějin přírodních věd
Přírodovědecká fakulta UK
Viničná 7, 128 44 Praha 2
e-mail: karpenko@natur.cuni.cz

DVT 204, 245
První československé průmyslové roboty ● František Šolc – Lubomír Anděl

The first Czechoslovak industrial robots. Year 2020 marks just a century since the word robot was coined. The word robot was invented by a Czech writer Karel Čapek. In connection with this event the following article came out, which deals with the development and construction of the first Czechoslovak industrial robots. The article describes their kinematic concepts and methods of their control. It also lists other important historical contexts of their development.

Keywords: robot • industrial robot • kinematics • automatic control

In the 1970s, the government sought the means to improve the performance of planned economics. Robotization, already in full swing abroad, appeared an appropriate means. As a result, the government has been listing state tasks and target programs to support robotization and manufacturing development. Technical intelligentsia welcomed the support for robot development and was ready. What wasn’t prepared for this modern technology was the component base and the production organization. Yet the QJN 020 and PR 16P robots were a decent standard. But their deployment was met with technological insubordination and classic resistance from workers, who often deliberately damaged them.

prof. Ing. František Šolc, CSc.
Fakulta elektrotechniky a komunikačních technologií VUT v Brně
Technická 3082/12, 616 00 Brno
e-mail: solc@feec.vutbr.cz

Mgr. Lubomír Anděl
Technické muzeum v Brně
Purkyňova 2950, 612 00 Brno
e-mail: andel@tmbrno.cz

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