Alchemy: Science or Pseudoscience?

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Can you skip ore hunting and the laborious mining that follows and just produce gold in a laboratory using chemistry?

Using contemporary 21st century knowledge, the answer is


I open this alchemy discussion with a question in reference to gold, as scholars and philosophers, classically, have described the conversion from a base metal to gold as the quintessential feat for having completed an alchemical transformation.  By many interpretations, the classical definition of alchemy is this exact process.  However, the true definition and understanding of alchemy is shrouded in mystery.  Do I purport to have the true understanding of what alchemy is?  No, not to any degree.

While I don’t claim to have deciphered the mystery of this art or science, it seems that this ancient art, while long in repute, has redeeming facts and discoveries that it’s not much credited for.

After considering such information, what are the implications as it pertains to the surreal claims of alchemy?  That is the question that I was forced to ponder after learning a bit more about the matter.

Re-invoking the opening question, can one, with enough knowledge and skill, produce gold from non-gold in a lab using chemistry?

Rather than excavating it naturally, gold can be chemically extracted from, or produced from other substances.

In a video demonstration available online, gold is seen being extracted from chloroauric acid through a chemical process.

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Granted, the chloroauric acid already contained atoms of gold, so this feat may not be so impressive.  Nonetheless, it is one example of gold existing in alternative chemical states and being chemically refined.

Next, it’s no secret that scientists have discovered how to create gold through nuclear physics and particle collisions from other substances.


In fact, while long considered the pseudo-scientific claims of of ancient alchemists, the conversion or transmutation of lead into gold is now known to be a reality.  And not only is it a reality, it’s already within our capability.

Scientific American published a brief article addressing this matter.


What did the author, John Matson, have to say?

“But what of the fabled transmutation of lead to gold? It is indeed possible—all you need is a particle accelerator, a vast supply of energy and an extremely low expectation of how much gold you will end up with.”

Even the Russians–not to insinuate in any way that they are scientifically or technologically inferior to the rest of the world–have not only discovered another process for such, but the discovering scientists have a patent.

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RU 2563511

In an announcement, they reported their process as being biochemical in nature, rather than nuclear.

So with these undisputed facts, it would seem that the core claim of alchemists has been vindicated as having a real basis in science.

According to Harold Goldwhite, author of Creations of Fire, there are reports of alchemical claims dating all the way back to 100-300 AD.  In the documentary film, Gnosis – Alchemy The Real Sorcerer’s Stone, Goldwhite gave the following comment:

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Harold Goldwhite

“The earliest mention of it I’ve managed to unearth is a treatise attributed to Maria the Jewess.  That’s probably somewhere between 1 and 300 AD.”

Portrait of Maria the Jewess

If we are to credit the ancient alchemists for not only making such discoveries but also for transcribing their methodologies in the methodical detail that they did, it would mean that advanced knowledge of chemistry has been suppressed for 2000 years.  Just imagine how developed the field of chemistry could have been by now?  Why did this happen, and who, if anyone, is responsible for this?

According to literature, it is speculated that the monarchs of ancient times suppressed the practice of alchemy, as they feared it would de-stabalize currency.  However, investigated a little more deeply, some of those same monarchs were not so against the idea as long as they were the sole proprietors of it.  The fear was that others would utilize such knowledge outside of their close supervision.

After understanding the history of the subject a little more, it seems that the tarnishing of alchemy’s reputation likely had a lot to do with unfair defamation and suppression.  Focusing solely on the core literature, excluding the occultist affairs that eventually followed, alchemy was a real science.  In fact, alchemy back then, was what we know as modern chemistry today.  Many of the scientific instruments and refining methods used today were originally developed by alchemists.

As I see it, a more accurate definition of an alchemist is one who is a master chemist.  Suppose that the first cellphone was invented way back then.  Would it have been taken as science or sorcery?  An alchemist has a highly advanced understanding in the scientific manipulation of chemistry.  This is what allowed alchemists back then to perform certain feats not thought possible, but that are known today as having been possible all along.

Philosopher’s Stone by Zlurpo

Could it be that today’s chemists–so-called scientists–spend more time talking about the “impossible” rather than open-mindedly investigating the “possible?”  Personally, though I hold no scientific degree at this time, I’m a mad scientist in my own right.  I imagine myself, if I were a chemist, spending an innumerable amount of time investigating how to create the famed philosopher’s stone or how to start a gold-selling business from my garage.

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