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by Woodstock12
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Jan Baptista Van Helmont, who was a Flemish physician, physiologist, and chemist, was born in Brussels in 1580. He went on to recieve a degree in medicine in 1599, traveled europe then returned home to practice medicine during the bubonic plagues rampage. In 1609 he then went back to recieve a doctoral degree in medicine, and the very same year he married his wife, Margaret. Then in 1633 he was arrested for the "crime" of studying plants.(Well this is before the age of enlightenment so the church was still tweakin out about everything that undermined it) He conducted his willow tree experiment in 1643 and discovered the beginnings of photosynthesis (Although his conclusion was incorrect) and died the very next year in 1644 at the age of 64 which was pretty old for back then, especially with the plague killing everyone.

Willow Tree

Jan Baptista Van Helmont 1580 - Born in Brussels1599 - Gained a medical degree1605 - Practiced medicine in Antwerp, Belgium during bubonic plague 1609- Recieved a Doctoral degree in medicine1609 - Married Margaret Von Ranst1643 - Conducted Willow tree experiment1644 - Death

"I took an earthen pot and in it placed 200 pounds of earth which had been dried out in an oven. This I moistened with rain water, and in it planted a shoot of willow which weighed five pounds. When five years had passed the tree which grew from it weighed 169 pounds and about three ounces. The earthen pot was wetted whenever it was necessary with rain or distilled water only. It was very large, and was sunk in the ground, and had a tin plated iron lid with many holes punched in it, which covered the edge of the pot to keep air-borne dust from mixing with the earth. I did not keep track of the weight of the leaves which fell in each of the four autumns. Finally, I dried out the earth in the pot once more, and found the same 200 pounds, less about 2 ounces. Thus, 164 pounds of wood, bark, and roots had arisen from water alone." (Jan Baptista Van Helmont)

Lasting Impact on human life

His dicovery took the very first steps to understanding greenhouse gases and global warming through photosynthesis.


"Jan Baptist Van Helmont." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 May 2014. Web. 26 May 2014. ."Plantefysiologi." - Institutt for Biovitenskap. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 May 2014. ."Who Discovered Photosynthesis?" Who Discovered Photosynthesis? N.p., n.d. Web. 26 May 2014. .Plants And Human Affairs – Biol1. Plants and Human Affairs – Biol106 Analyzing Van Helmont's Willow Experiment (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 26 May 2014. .




Willow Tree Experiement

Related to chemistry, using balancing of equations and composition percentages. And applies the law of conservation of mass.

Van Helmont was one of the first to use the scientific method. Through his experiment he discovered plants do not create mass from their soil, though his conclusion was incorrect he took the first steps to understanding photosynthesis.

I think this story is interesting because this was before the age of enlightenment and before the scientific method making him a pioneer of science. He chose to contribute to the scientific world and beat back the manipulation of the church through his persecution and I find that very awesome.


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