Helmont, Jan Baptista van

Helmont, Jan Baptista van

biographical name

(born Jan. 12, 1580, Brussels, Belg.—died Dec. 30, 1644, Vilvoorde, Spanish Netherlands) Belgian chemist, physiologist, and physician. Though he tended to mysticism, he was a careful observer and exact experimenter. The first to recognize gases other than air, he coined the word gas and discovered that the “wild spirits” (carbon dioxide) produced by burning charcoal and by fermenting grape juice were the same. For applying chemical principles to digestion and nutrition, he has been called the “father of biochemistry.” His collected works were published in 1648.

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