Ever since water was turned into wine at a wedding nearly two thousand years ago, mankind has been seeking a way to turn to ordinary into the precious. For thousands of years, many have sought to turn the base metal lead into rare substances such as gold and silver.
Most of the ancient alchemical writings were lost in a burning at the Library of Alexandria in the year 292. Yet myth and legend of the beginnings of Alchemy remain. The god Hermes was said to have written on an emerald tablet. These writings were called the “Great Arcanum” and are frequently quoted as a passage appears to surface every so often. Alchemy also was known as the “Hermetic Arts.”
Another important character to the Science of Alchemy was Aristotle. He proposed that the four elements were actually four states. These elements were derived from “Prima Materia” or prime matter. Aristotle was most impressed when he watched ore being smelted into precious metal. The ore passed from the solid state (earth) to the liquid state (water) and back to solid, but substantially changed or transmuted.
If all ore was prime matter, it was the skill or the smelter or metal worker to determine what state the matter would eventually become.
The city of Baghdad in Iraq was an early capital of Alchemy. After the rise of the Prophet, many scholars studied the surviving manuscripts from Alexandria. One of the most famous was Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan. Hayyan (also know as Geber) was one of the earliest proponents of the scientific method and brought that strategy to alchemy. Interestingly, Jabir ibn Hayyan is considered the father of modern chemistry.
As the popes called for the crusades, learned men from both sides would talk amongst themselves, between battles and share medicinal treatments, philosophy, etc. Eventually the lure of alchemy was imported to Europe.
It was Robert of Chester’s translation of the Arabic book, Book of the Composition of Alchemy, ignited the imaginations of the scientists of Europe. Of course, the influence of the church crept in and made alchemy a “spiritual Journey.”
In later centuries, alchemy became a great scam for con men. One of the last famous men to be conned by a fake alchemist was General Erich Ludendorff. General Ludendorff was a buddy of Adolf Hitler ad was trying to find a quick way to raise money for the up and coming nazi party.
So, does alchemy still matter? Are there any alchemist left in the world?
Very recently, The Gemesis Company announced that they have perfected man made diamonds. From basic carbon to cool diamonds! Alchemists!