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What is alchemy

  1. Sep 13, 2007 #1
    what is it exactly? is it some sort of mythological thing because of symbols? or is it just simply changing elements in to different ones like gases and liquids?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2007 #2
    all i know about alchemy is from paolo coelho's book, the alchemist. it's supposed to be an ancient art with two main objectives, still not yet accomplished. these are:
    1) making the immortality potion
    2) turning lead into gold
  4. Sep 13, 2007 #3
    #2 has been accomplished
  5. Sep 14, 2007 #4
    What he said, although it would probably be cheaper to buy gold then use a series of nuclear processes to produce it from lead.
  6. Sep 14, 2007 #5
    Yes, it is definitely MUCH more expensive to synthetically produce gold from lead then extract it from its ores.

    Although Kushal accurately cites two of the most important goals of alchemy, you can basically look at alchemy as a precursor to modern chemistry. It also utilized many other sciences. It probably was first practiced in ancient Egypt and slowly spread throughout the Eurasian continent and was still practiced in Europe even in the 1700/1800s.

    Many important lab techniques were developed through alchemy such as distillation. The alchemists also synthesized many chemicals that are commonplace today like sulfuric, nitric, and hydrochloric acids, along with ethanol, potash, and saltpeter.

    Of course, there was also the mythical and spiritual side of alchemy. Alchemy was kind of like science, religion, and art all melded into one practice.

    Some interesting alchemists:
    Jabir ibn Hayyan
    Hening Brandt
    Isaac Newton

    Backyard Chemistry
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2007
  7. Sep 17, 2007 #6
    They used what they had to produce useful compounds, and other not so useful ones.
  8. Sep 18, 2007 #7
    If it wasn't then we would have massive amounts produced and the price of gold would thus be driven down.
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