Numismatists know that Sir Isaac Newton was the master of the Royal Mint from 1699 until his death in 1727. And oh yeah, he developed the basic principles of modern physics and gravitation,
invented calculus and the first reflecting telescope. But Newton also studied alchemy and religion.
Web site visitor John Hawthorne noticed our earlier article mentioning Newton and alchemy, and shared his new article with some interesting background on the 'science" of alchemy.
Here's an excerpt. -Editor
Alchemy, the process of turning a base metal into gold, has been a dream of gold enthusiasts for millennia. It’s not hard to see why. If you discovered a recipe for turning lead into gold, you
would become a millionaire overnight. Your basement would be filled with stacks and stacks of gold, and you would never need to worry about inflation again.
You could indulge in all sorts of eccentric hobbies, and if anyone questioned you, you could just throw a few gold bars their way.
Unfortunately, it turns out that alchemy, at least in its purest form, can’t be done. You can’t turn any metal into gold, no matter how much sorcery or chemicals or mystical charms you use. For
now, lead will remain lead and gold will remain gold.
Alchemy originated in a spiritual worldview that said everything holds a universal spirit within it. Metals were not only alive but also grew inside the earth like living organisms. They had the
universal spirit within them, just like every other material on earth.
A base metal, like lead, was simply a physically and spiritually immature form of a higher metal, like gold. Zinc, lead, and gold were not all individual metals, but the same metal in various
forms of development.
The goal was to make the base metal “mature” into the higher metal gold. Think of it like nurturing a young child.
As time went on, the process of alchemy evolved. In the beginning, it relied heavily on magic. Some individuals thought that something called the “Philosopher’s Stone” existed, which could heal
people, lengthen life, and transform base metals into gold. Others created elaborate mystical rituals designed to effect the transformation.
During the Enlightenment, a more rational, scientific approach was taken, with many scientists experimenting with chemical processes. Surprisingly though, even some of the most rational scientists
such as Isaac Newton clung to the hope of discovering a mystical alchemy process.
In March 2016, the Chemical Heritage Foundation bought a 17th-century alchemy manuscript written by Newton. Buried in a private collection for decades, the manuscript detailed how to make
“philosophic” mercury, thought to be a step toward making the philosopher’s stone — a magical substance thought to have the ability to turn any metal into gold and give eternal life.
Unfortunately, none of these efforts produced true alchemy. It turns out that base metals can’t be magically or chemically transformed into gold.
Today, it is possible to “create” gold using particle accelerators, but the amounts created are minuscule and not worth the Herculean efforts involved.
To read the complete article, see:
What Is Alchemy and Is It Even Real? (https://weldaloy.com/what-is-alchemy-and-is-it-even-real/)
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NEW BOOK: THE HISTORY OF ISAAC NEWTON’S PAPERS (http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n21a09.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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