The Many Goals of Alchemy
Alchemy is not just the changing of base metals into gold as most people think, although that was one of the goals people tried to achieve through alchemy. Alchemy is stemmed from astrology; both make attempts to understand mans relationship to the universe and exploit it. While astrology is concerned with the stars alchemy is concerned with the elements of nature. Alchemy also stemmed partly from metallurgy, a science that deals with the extracting of metals form ore and the combining of metals to make alloys. Today’s modern chemistry evolved from alchemy using the extended knowledge of substances and how they react with each other.
There were several goals that alchemist tried to achieve but the driving cause behind it was to understand mans relation to the universe. Alchemists of many religions believed that they could understand the will of their god or gods through understanding the world in which they lived. However many alchemists strive for more selfish goals.
The most well known goal is the changing of metals to gold. Alchemists called this transmutation. They believed that metals such as gold as silver were pure and that the other base metals were impure or sick. If the base metals could be purified they would become gold, silver or some other precious metal. However they never succeeded We now know that changing one element in to another is impossible with out the use of a nuclear reaction, of which they had no knowledge of or any way of accidentally creating.
Another popular goal of alchemy was to make the old young again and also to gain immortality. Like changing metals it is also known as transmutation and was believed to be purification. Most of the potions they concocted made people very sick and even killed.
A lesser-known goal was to discover a substance that could bring about any desired change instantly. There were many myths about it and many names. Zosimos, an alchemist from 300A.D. first proposed the idea of such as substance. He called it the...