|Hamburg—Hennig Brand elements|
Could be Hennig Brand thought kidney stones were sympathetic with the philosopher’s stone that he tried to distill gold from urine . . . or could be the golden color of urine deceived him. At any rate, after letting it rot, evaporating it into a paste, heating the paste, discarding the salts (which included most of the phosphorus), mixing and reheating the rest, and cooling the vapors in water, he produced a white waxy material that glowed in the dark, actually ammonium sodium hydrogen phosphate.
Atomic number 15
Kept a secret much in demand phosphorus was a sensation. Brand sold the process to a guy in Dresden. Everyone wanted to know how to make it. Given hints Robert Boyle figured it out and improved the process. * Today it makes matches fertilizers explosives baking powder pesticides plasticizer flame retardants detergents water softener and toothpaste. * Needed by all living creatures, having a role in our genetic machinery and in the transport of energy.
Stuff that glows
Brand named it phosphorus mirabilis “miraculous bearer of light.” Reacting with oxygen, phosphorus emits light. * Radioluminescent phosphor excited by tritium on watch hands. * Happiness in your eyes but not that spooky green glow. * Moons, stars, nebulae.