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Newton Would U+2661 Unicode 6.0

From Nicaise Le Fèvre, A compleat body of chymistry (London, 1670)

From Nicaise Le Fèvre, A compleat body of chymistry (London, 1670). CHF Collections.

James Voelkel, CHF's rare book curator, sent out this announcement last week: 

"Computer nerds, rejoice! Unicode 6.0 has been released. Unicode, of course, is the coding standard that allows nerds and non-nerds alike to use all different kinds of characters, supporting all the languages of the world and all sorts of cool and useful symbols.

What you may not be aware of is that Unicode 6.0 includes a new code block, alchemical symbols. These were submitted and moved through a long approval process by our colleagues at the Chymistry of Isaac Newton project. CHF helped out by providing numerous examples of tables of (al)chemical symbols from the 17th- and 18th-century books in our collections. From the Unicode alchemical symbols proposal:

'The NSF- and NEH-funded Chymistry of Isaac Newton Project at Indiana University,with the help of the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, gathered a collection of seventeenth and eighteenth century synoptic tables as an initial step toward developing a Unicode proposal for alchemical symbols. Examples of those textbook tables are shown in Figure 1, Explanation of the Chimical Characters from Nicaise Le Fèvre, A compleat body of chymistry, London, 1670, and Figure 2, Basil Valentine, The Last Will and Testament of Basil Valentine, 1671. There are many others.'"

So for all the Newton fans, historians of science, and any alchemists out there who are tired of writing things with quill and ink: you’re welcome.

Related:
Pounds, Ampersands, and Skulls [Periodic Tabloid]
Alchemy Gets Respect at AAAS [Periodic Tabloid]
Marvels and Ciphers [Distillations]

Posted In: History

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