Pneumatic Chemistry

By Atom Bergstrom

Atom’s Blog

Q — How does one gain or lose weight?

A — Same way a balloon fills with air and/or water.

I’ve taught professional bodybuilders how to gain 5 pounds of weight by drinking a single glass of water after heavy lifting and how to lose it again with a pandiculation technique.


Belgium scientist Jan Baptista van Helmont (1580-1644) was on the right track.

According to Britannica …

“In what is perhaps his best-known experiment, van Helmont placed a 5-pound (about 2.2-kg) willow in an earthen pot containing 200 pounds (about 90 kg) of dried soil, and over a five-year period he added nothing to the pot but rainwater or distilled water. After five years, he found that the tree weighed 169 pounds (about 77 kg), while the soil had lost only 2 ounces (57 grams). He concluded that ‘164 pounds of wood, barks, and roots arose out of water only,’ and he had not even included the weight of the leaves that fell off every autumn. Obviously, he knew nothing of photosynthesis, in which carbon from the air and minerals from the soil are used to generate new plant tissue, but his use of the balance is important; he believed that the mass of materials had to be accounted for in chemical processes.”


According to Science Direct …

“Van Helmont is generally considered the father of pneumatic chemistry, and was the first to discover that there are gases distinct from atmospheric air. Van Helmont even claimed that the word ‘gas’ was his own invention.”


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