The Chemistry of Alchemy: From Dragon’s Blood to Donkey Dung: How Chemistry Was Forged

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The authors of this book obviously loved their subject, and have a great time with it. It’s fun to read a book with such infectious enthusiasm. They are chemists, but exploring chemistry’s early forebear, alchemy. Wondering how chemistry developed from such arcane beginnings, they set off on an exuberant scavenger hunt and take the reader along for the ride. The first mention of alchemy (which was always associated with turning base metals into gold) is from ancient Egypt and Greece, so there the authors begin, ferreting out hints and obscure references, and tracing the history of alchemical ideas (which undergo transformations as unexpected as the materials used) through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and finally up to the earliest modern chemists, whose work was scientific, verifiable, and still pertinent today. Along the way we are introduced to all sorts of interesting people, profiled with amusing, personal and entertaining sketches. But most fun of all are the twenty separate demonstrations, intended for novice (but adult, for safety reasons) chemists which illustrate principles and concepts discovered by the alchemists themselves. You can’t really turn lead into gold, but with this book you, along with the alchemists, can sure have fun trying.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 340 pages
Publisher Prometheus Books
Publish Date 2014-Jul-01
ISBN 9781616149154 Buy this Book
Issue July 2014
Category History


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