Does Real Life Alchemy Exist?

Discussion in 'Chemistry' started by Alchemic, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. Alchemic Registered Member

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    Just wondering whether alchemy in real life exists as i'm particularly interested in this subject??
     
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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    If you mean turning lead into gold, no.
     
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  5. MRC_Hans Skeptic Registered Senior Member

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    Depends on what you mean by Alchemy. The procedures followed by alchemists are, of course, real, although I doubt anybody is doing them these days.

    Alchemy, as in transmuting metals by various chemical reactions, is not real. Never was.

    We can, however, transmute metals through nuclear reactions, not to produce gold (not cost-effective), but certain of the extra heavy elements, e.g. Plutonium.

    Hans
     
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  7. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    yes.
    but you need a piece of equipment called a cyclotron.
     
  8. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    I remember years back, due to an emergency situation, I was asked to extend the best available technology for removing mercury from water. I needed down to parts per trillion or <1PPB. This was needed because the EPA required it. I searched the science literature and nobody had what I needed and the BAT could not get get that low, so I was on my own. What I did was go further back into the chemistry archives, to the first mercury experts, who were the alchemists, to see if it was possible to learn anything from them.

    In alchemy, the mercury or quicksilver was symbolied as the mercurial serpent and was seen as being similar to Satan. Their approach to fixing quicksilver was simple, use like to attract like.

    That being said, since mercury was Satan, and Satan was associated with hell, I felt that mercury should be attracted to sulfide; rotten smell. This worked well to form mercury sulfide, but this was not good enough. The next thing, I tried was to include iron as ferric ions, since iron was the connected to the planet Mars, who was the god of war. Hell and war were like to attract like; mercurry. Essentially, I used ferric sulfide. Although this reacted better to form mercury sulfide, it was so fine, I would still need to take it out of solution. Filtration would work but, first back to alchemy to see if I could do it in one step.

    So what I did was use a cation exchange resin (full of negative charge) since hell is a negative place. I would react the resin with the iron to exchange ferric cations for sodium cations on the factory resin. The ferric was in the form of ferric chloride. Then I reacted the modified resin with sulfide to exchange the chlodie. I had this resin full of negativity, then war and last the evil smell of sulfur. This got me down to <100PPT, which was below the goal I needed to achieve, no filter needed since the mercury was bound to the modified resin.

    This approach only took two weeks for the invention, which was even fast for me. When I published, I gave the alchemists due credit and went through the logic I used. After that I became the mercury man as both a joke and a complement.
     
  9. CptBork Robbing the Shalebridge Cradle Valued Senior Member

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    Some practices of alchemy were found to be useful, and today we call that portion "chemistry". The rest was shown to be a bunch of useless superstitious crap and got tossed out the window. So chemistry is just the portion of alchemy which actually works, along with all the subsequent discoveries that have since been built on the original successes.
     
  10. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    Very cool... and an interesting way to approach a unique problem - props to you for not being afraid to be "different"
     
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I'm not sure it's fair to call it superstition. The scientific method had not yet been developed. No Occam's Razor, no Rule of Laplace, no nothing. So there was no canon of scientific theories upon which to build. Some of those guys were doing their best to follow procedures which they felt had integrity. It was probably the best anybody could have done at the time.

    If they were trying to find a way to turn lead into gold, there was obviously an economic reason behind it: anyone who figured out how to do that would become rich! Is this much different from today's corporate scientists, who try to find ways to make their employer's research profitable, even if it might cause an incurable disease? Or blow up the planet?
     
  12. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    Radioactivity turns one atomic element into another.
     
  13. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

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    The actual aim of alchemy was to create what they called the "Philosophers Stone". They attempted to create this by combining substances like iron pyrite, sulfur etc and grinding them in an agate mortar, exposing them to reflected moonlight while so doing and other obscure processes.

    When they finally had what they thought was the Stone, they would place a piece of it on a block of glass and gently warm it. If their Stone was the Stone, it would be absorbed by the glass block, which would then turn a red colour. This would then be ground up. A small piece would then be added to molten lead, which was then cooled. If the lead turned to gold, the alchemist has succeeded in creating the Stone - the transmutation was the test, not the intended purpose.

    If the lead was turned to gold, then some of the Stone was powdered and dissolved in water. The alchemist would then consume this tincture. His hair and nails would fall out and he would be very ill for a while. When he got out of bed though, his wrinkles would be gone and his hair and nails would grow back strong and firm, without the signs of age. The Stone was meant to confer eternal life to the alchemist.

    Saint Germain was reputed to be one such person, and there were others who reportedly lived full lives, then disappeared only to reappear elsewhere under another guise to hide their immortality.

    While this may all be so much hooey, the contributions of the alchemists to our current body of science were considerable.

    Yeah, radioactive elements spontaneously transmute, as when uranium 235 in phosphate fertilizer decays into radon gas, lead 210 and polonium 210 to be inhaled in your cigarette smoke....
     
  14. MRC_Hans Skeptic Registered Senior Member

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    Nice story, and I agree that alchemists fathered chemistry, but only in the same sense as the naval surgeon butchers of old fathered modern surgery.

    I might add that even while not being a qualified chemist, I can easily see the logic in your steps, and I suggest that your alchemist references were merely a humorous spicing to an otherwise modern approach.

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    Hans
     
  15. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    One of the best sources of alchemical symbolism and analysis is found in the many publications of the late psychologist, Carl Jung. Jung used a wide variety of collective human symbolism, as data, to prove that the human personality was rooted on neural forms, common to all humans, which he called archetypes of the collective unconscious. These archetypes define the basis for human nature.

    In modern lingo, the archetypes are analogous to brain firmware, common to all humans, which are empty at birth. Like little neural trees, they will grow into natural neural structurng (DNA driven), which define human nature at various phases of life. Our sensory input data sort of acts analogous to the sun shining on a plant, impacting the growth and final shape of the neural firmware forms. The final result is both collective (DNA based) and individual. For example, being in love is firmware induced, with this behavior collective in one sense yet also unique to a person in their unique place in time and space.

    The alchemists, consciously or unconsciously, were mystical psychologists who used their symbolic lab analysis (mercurial serpent, gold=christ) to program the firmware, with the firmware pertubations offering symbolic feedback, from which they would learn new things. Turning lead into gold was more about firmware programming into a golden firmware state of mind; natural??

    The language of the unconscious mind is symbolism. Their approach made use of the most direct programming language of the unconscious to achieve interesting results. They were ahead of their time in terms of advanced applied psychology, with the level of collective human symbolism used and generated, a good indication of their level of interaction with the firmware.

    Culture at any particular time in history plays a role in the collective conscious programming of the firmware, since this group data (superego) is all around us and colectively reinforced. The firmware becomes double collective with one part natural, and the other part cultural.

    At the time of the middle ages alchemists the firmware was collectively programmed for the middle ages mentality at the cusp of age of enlightnement change. To modernize, the firmware required a distillation of the previous cultural programming to free up the firmware. Then the firmware needed to be reprogrammed with the future. It is sort of like trying to uninstall and then reinstall.

    The alchemists were actaully doctors and other very educated people who would pioneer the firmware manipulation procedures that would lead to a mind needed for modern science. Their efforts were not condoned by the Church, with these underground members of the church, secretly using the ancient symbols to distill the programming path of the firmware.

    The feedback coming from the natural firmware often led to inventions that would benefit future chemisty. Many alchemists went mad, not only due to mercury poison, but due to opening the unconscious mind too much to where pychosis could seep through the barrier. But those who maintained found their gold, there was firmware changed in time.
     
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    There have always been people among us who use archetypes to manipulate us. Witch doctors, astrologers, priests, Tarot readers, shamans, faith healers, mediums...

    Some of them tap our preprogrammed neural pathways to help us feel better, overcome fear, survive grief, etc. Others use them to guide us into being entertained by the unbelievable. Surely a few believe in what they're doing.

    But many use them to control and deceive us. It's good that Jung is so widely taught. Joseph Campbell's popularizations reached out to millions of people.
     
  17. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    The human mind is one of those last frontiers within science, with the archetypes or personality firmware the scaffolding of the human personality. The alchemists were trying to turn this collective lead based middle ages collective firmware into gold. Instead of using their knowledge of human nature to manipulate, like in advertising, politics and spin, they saw this as a way to advance the human condition. The age of enlightenment appeared as the mind opened up.

    For example, the public schools are run by the liberals. The second half of childhood firmware programming is media based, with this aspects composed of those who tend to side with the democrats. On the one hand, this situation is useful in that it helps students think outside the narrow box of older traditions. This makes more room for future change as well as free market manipulation. But this outside the box of traditions is itself structured in its own collective liberal way. You are not allowed to think outside this fuzzy box; inward or outward.

    The firmware within the little mushy minds of children is naturally progressing, with age. As the DNA unfolds the personality firmware, the cultural data from the box in box is inputted into the growing neural structure. The final collective mind and its collective modification of natural human nature is based on how the two will add. The question becomes what is the current collective nature of the firmware and does this make it possible for all to get along? Much of the natural firmware does not work properly since the purpose the firmware is similar to natural instinct which unites a species. We have the lead instead of gold, with lead heads an easier herd to lead and shear.
     
  18. CptBork Robbing the Shalebridge Cradle Valued Senior Member

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    One would hope so, otherwise he got a 50/50 lucky break with the part about negative ions being evil (the original naming convention was arbitrary). Nothing evil about electrons, folks!
     
  19. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    The alchemists showed how it was possible to do empirical science using a black box approach. We still do black box science today. They tried to open the black box of chemistry, and give the inside of the box logical explanations rather than just present empirical results. There explanations, although not modern, still had practical value, since they could predict many chemical reactions, do distillations and extractions. They also isolated many atoms and many compounds. The alchemists were educated with many being doctors. Medicine still uses the blackbox approach of let us try this plant and see what happens, then correlating empirically.
     
  20. Tleit004 Registered Member

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    I would just like to say firs of all what you all think Alchemy as is probably not what it really is,the definition of alchemy is : "a power or process of transforming something common into something special".so if you were to think about it wellwisher, what you did was not alchemy, you did not make something special for the reason of having that special item, you made something un-needed to fix a human problem. What you did was more under my theory of quantum rule changing theory(i'm not really great on naming yet)You changed one atom's rules and turned i into another.
     
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Dictionary.com:
    Alchemy: a form of chemistry and speculative philosophy practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and concerned principally with discovering methods for transmuting baser metals into gold and with finding a universal solvent and an elixir of life.

    Merriam-Webster:
    Alchemy: a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life.
     
  22. Tleit004 Registered Member

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    dude, there is a different definition, that is the middle ages definition on alchemy, there is a new definition for the newer days.
     
  23. AlexG Like nailing Jello to a tree Valued Senior Member

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    But Alchemy IS a middle ages practice. There is no 'new' alchemy. The closest thing to alchemy is the branch of science called chemistry.
     

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