The prospect of a magical transformation of the world around us has attracted many scientists for centuries.
Before the appearance of the periodic table, alchemy existed. Her long-standing practice was based on the idea that metals can be converted to other, more valuable substances. Alchemy was an art based partly on experiments and partly on magic. Early researchers focused their searches on a mythical substance called the Philosopher’s Stone, which was supposed to possess many valuable properties: prolong life, heal and transform precious metals into precious metals.
Today we know that the elemental composition of our planet is still much more complicated, and most of the postulates of alchemy have long been disproved. But ancient scholars were right in one thing: from other elements, you can create gold. Yes, the process costs more than the cost of gold itself. But it’s possible.
So, the five most influential alchemists of all time:
1. Sir Isaac Newton
That’s right, Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most famous scientists, did not shy away from alchemy. Although many of his alchemist studies have been lost, it is believed that he was most interested in chemical processes, including those associated with a philosophical stone and the cultivation of silver and gold from a chemical solution. Although we remember Newton mainly on the “apple fallen from the tree” and, accordingly, the force of gravity, it is said that the scientist was very interested in the forces of the supernatural. “Newton was not the first representative of the age of reason, he was the last of the wizards,” wrote economist John Maynard Keynes about it.
2. Pope John XXII
John XXII (1316-1334) is most often recalled in connection with the reorganization of the church structure. In 1317 he issued an interesting decree condemning the practice of alchemy. The Papal document stated that this practice was not only theologically incorrect (a person changed what God created), but morally irresponsible. And this despite the fact that John XXII was actually considered “one of the most liberal promoters of education and science in history.” By the way, according to very confident rumors, the pope himself was a practicing alchemist, and his decree was issued solely to divert eyes and eliminate competitors.
When he died, in his treasury, an enormous number of precious stones and money were discovered that Papa could not in any way earn in his entire life.
3. John Dee
John Dee was considered one of the foremost minds of his time, and thanks to his intellect and unsurpassed logic, he received the position of an adviser in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. However, John Dee was a consistent adherent of magic and alchemy and the last three decades of his life he tried to communicate with angels. For Dee, his two interests (science and magic) did not seem mutually exclusive at all. Both were based on his desire to understand and study the world around him. But, alas, he happened to live at a time when the gap between scientific and spiritual was irresistible. Perhaps in history there is no second such an under appreciated scientist like John Dee.
4. Jabir ibn Khayyan
Named as the “father of early chemistry”, the Persian scholar Jabir ibn Hayyan (720-815) was also an astrologer, engineer, geographer, physicist, philosopher, pharmacist and alchemist . It is believed that he was trying to develop a way of creating living beings from special chemical formulas. Jabir ibn Hayyan even received the post of forensic alchemist from Caliph Harun al-Rashid, who included the work of the scientist in his legendary library of Bayt-al-Hikma, which was destroyed by the Mongols in 1258. Some of the researches of Hayyan under the pseudonym of Geber reached Europe.
5. Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe is a Danish nobleman and scientist who has achieved amazing results. His observations of astrological phenomena were five times more accurate than the data of the science of the time. He was the first to claim that the Moon revolves around the Earth, and the rest of the planets around the Sun, but he was mistaken, believing that the Sun also rotates around the Earth. He probably would have realized his mistake if telescopes existed in the 16th century, but Brahe is known to be a legendary astronomer who made his discoveries with the naked eye. In addition, his interests extended to alchemy.
He regarded astrology as an energy linking the spiritual and physical worlds. And he also tried to create herbal remedies for diseases.