The Chemistry of Alchemy: From Dragons Blood to Donkey Dung, How Chemistry Was Forged by Cathy CobbA unique approach to the history of science using do-it-yourself experiments along with brief historical profiles to demonstrate how the ancient alchemists stumbled upon the science of chemistry.
Be the alchemist! Explore the legend of alchemy with the science of chemistry. Enjoy over twenty hands-on demonstrations of alchemical reactions.
In this exploration of the ancient art of alchemy, three veteran chemists show that the alchemists quest involved real science and they recount fascinating stories of the sages who performed these strange experiments.
Why waste more words on this weird deviation in the evolution of chemistry? As the authors show, the writings of medieval alchemists may seem like the ravings of brain-addled fools, but there is more to the story than that.
Recent scholarship has shown that some seemingly nonsensical mysticism is, in fact, decipherable code, and Western European alchemists functioned from a firmer theoretical foundation than previously thought. They had a guiding principle, based on experience: separate and purify materials by fire and reconstitute them into products, including, of course, gold and the universal elixir, the Philosophers stone.
Their efforts were not in vain: by trial, by error, by design, and by persistence, the alchemists discovered acids, alkalis, alcohols, salts, and exquisite, powerful, and vibrant reactions--which can be reproduced using common products, minerals, metals, and salts.
So gather your vats and stoke your fires! Get ready to make burning waters, peacocks tails, Philosophers stone, and, of course, gold!
Difference between Alchemy and Chemistry
There are many chemical engineers, chemists and biochemists working with BioFuelNet on advanced biofuels using some of the most modern cutting-edge technologies. This article explores the history behind modern chemistry and biochemistry, which is misunderstood but highly relevant to modern thought.
What is alchemy?
One area of technology that was common to all the societies we have mentioned was metallurgy. Useful tools could be made that would last a long time. Weapons could stay sharp longer with improved metals. Precious metals such as gold and silver could be refined and used for jewelry or for money. Because it was fairly rare, gold was considered to be very valuable and became a common means of paying for goods and services. But mining for gold is a slow, dirty, and dangerous process.
When you think of "alchemy" do you imagine wizards brewing up concoctions of bat wings and blood? Contemporary historians would have.
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What is Alchemy?
Alchemy is an ancient practice shrouded in mystery and secrecy. Its practitioners mainly sought to turn lead into gold, a quest that has captured the imaginations of people for thousands of years. However, the goals of alchemy went far beyond simply creating some golden nuggets. Alchemy was rooted in a complex spiritual worldview in which everything around us contains a sort of universal spirit, and metals were believed not only to be alive but also to grow inside the Earth. When a base, or common, metal such as lead was found, it was thought to simply be a spiritually and physically immature form of higher metals such as gold. To the alchemists, metals were not the unique substances that populate the Periodic Table , but instead the same thing in different stages of development or refinement on their way to spiritual perfection. As James Randi notes in his "Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural," "Beginning about the year and reaching its flower in medieval times, alchemy was an art based partly upon experimentation and partly upon magic.