A notorious idea appeared in 1697 which would ultimately hold up the progress of chemistry for decades. And since biology and chemistry were growing ever-increasingly intertwined, this infamous fantasy -- the "phlogiston" theory -- would retard the development of biology as well.
Now long discredited, scientists once supposed phlogiston to be a medium that caused oxidation, as, for example, in the rusting of iron. The theory originated from an intractable problem. Science could not understand what, exactly, ensued during combustion. From this apparent conundrum, various exotic conjectures appeared. The German chemist Johann Joachim Becher, author of Physica Subterranea,