The chemical smell suggested they were going in the right direction.
The advances were not merely mechanical but chemical as well.
In both these doctrines of a priori science Descartes has not been subverted, but, if anything, corroborated by the results of experimental physics; for the so-called atoms of chemical theory already presuppose, from the Cartesian point of view, certain aggregations of the primitive particles of matter.
But on account of experimental errors in weighing and measuring, and through loss of material in the transfer of substances from one vessel to another, such analyses are rarely trustworthy to more than one part in about Soo; so that small changes in weight consequent on the chemical change could not with certainty be proved or disproved.
This system is of much service in following out mathematical, physical and chemical problems in which it is necessary to represent four variables.