This naive question will most likely directly opposite answers. A few enthusiasts will say: of course, done! And even now there are still coins that say that they are made of gold, resulting alchemical way. Others, representing the majority of thinking rationally, not less conviction will persist all alchemists were charlatans at best, and at worst — scams and alchemy in general not a science but an insane mother daughter — chemistry.
In order not to get involved directly in the heated controversy, let's start with a simple question: is it possible to get the gold out of something else?
The simplest answer, like "no, because if someone knew how to do it, it would have done it in huge quantities," we are not satisfied. After all, no doubt that today we do not know many of the secrets that have been known to magicians and wise men of ancient times and even simple artisans. With all the power and perfection of modern construction techniques, we are not able to build the pyramids, Egyptian repeating, even though they were built thousands, if not tens or even hundreds of thousands of years ago.
The fact that we now can not reproduce many alchemical experiments, should not lead us to the conclusion that it is impossible in principle. Of course, turning lead into gold or mercury can not be achieved in chemical reactions. But it says only that the "daughter" of chemistry is still very far from her "mother."
Moreover, the chemical elements constituting the substance in the chemical reactions are not changed "by definition" — all based on this chemistry. For example, if the reaction involved in the salt (NaCl), consisting of sodium and chlorine, the result is a substance which will contain sodium and chlorine, wherein exactly the same amounts as before the reaction. So from the point of view of chemistry of turning lead into gold is simply absurd.
But! Take two pieces of uranium-235 and connect them with each other. If their total mass is greater than the critical value, followed by an explosion. The reaction of uranium fission, which is in it constantly, it is a chain, avalanche, and causes the rapid release of energy, giving an explosion. But if after the explosion we were able to collect all the pieces and all that happened as a result, we were surprised to find that there is not enough uranium, but there were other elements of the periodic table, which was not there before. Among them are the uranium and fission products and heavier than uranium elements. They are the result of intense neutron irradiation, produced during the fission of uranium.
Thus, instead of a single chemical element, we obtain a set of elements that we are "created" from the source of uranium.
Moreover, for the nature of this process is not unusual, just in the state of the uranium concentration in the rock is very small, and the fission process in which just creates new elements is thousands of years old. Combining the same uranium in certain critical mass, we are accelerating the natural processes millions of times, and the formation of new elements is so violently that accompanied the explosion. In this process it is very difficult to manage, show some accidents at nuclear power plants. But it turns out that from the perspective of our current knowledge about the nature of the transformation of one element into another is not something incredible that goes beyond the physical laws.
So, recognizing the physical possibility of some chemical elements from the others, we must recognize the principle and the possibility of converting some of the substances into gold.
Thus, posed the question in the title of the article goes into the plane of trust to some historical sources, as of today we do not know of anybody who would like to demonstrate the transmutation into practice. Then enthusiasts alchemy receive strong support — because stories are many cases of such experiments, some of which was held or fixed highly respected scientists.
As for the revelations of false alchemists, the crooks and charlatans at all times, there were many. Many have sought to alchemy to get rich, get a grip with gold, but no one is to succeed. However, if alchemy was only fraud or error, why it existed thousands of years? After all, its roots go back to ancient Egypt.
Alchemists believed in the unity of the inner nature, that everything is connected to everything, and everything is moving, evolving. And, according to numerous sources, it was not just a belief, and knowledge, which gave man dominion over matter. The basic idea of the alchemists — the existence of a single primordial matter from which all things are made, and this provides the basis for a universal transmutation of substances and elements.
According to alchemy, all metals are steps one staircase leading to perfection. At the top of the ladder — the gold, the most perfect, the most precious metal, is not subject to corrosion, amazingly ductile and at the same time durable, the color itself is — the gold, the color of the sun, — speaks of perfection.
At the bottom rung — lead, the metal most far from perfect. Alchemists believed that in nature there is a gradual movement from the less perfect to more perfect, is the evolution of materials. And if so, then this process can be greatly accelerated in the alchemical laboratory, allowing to quickly turn lead into gold.
And here comes into play the Sorcerer's Stone, or, as it was also called "the Philosopher's Stone." Many modern scholars consider it a kind of catalyst that helps keep the alchemical process — and partly, perhaps, because it is. But the essence of the philosopher's stone — in the other.
For alchemists, there was no division in the "living" and "non-living" nature — all of nature is life, life is everywhere. And the evolution of all matter — is not a mere mechanical improvement in their physical qualities, and, if I may say so, their "spiritual growth."
If the reader is confused by such an expression of respect for what he regarded as inanimate matter, let him remember, for example, that we naturally call some noble metals, although the word "dignity" implies a certain inner qualities that we normally associate with a man . And maybe, gold and silver do not corrode thanks to its internal "nobility"?
Alchemy transforms into the perfect what nature has left imperfect, and cleans all things fortitude, which is contained in them. And the Sorcerer's Stone is more of a "spiritual substrate," the quintessence of spiritual evolution or the very "inner nobility", rather than just the substance, even though it exists material — it is described as a substance, usually a reddish color. It can be graphically represented as the piece of pure spirit, or spiritual principle, "caught" in the matter.
Then we can understand why the addition of the smallest part of the philosopher's stone in the base metals transforms them, making noble — the spiritual principles contained in it, ennobles them, causing "run" on the steps of evolution. You can see why the philosopher's stone is made from a panacea, a universal cure-all — because there is "added" to the spiritual man, and all the illnesses recede. And one can understand why the Sorcerer's Stone is the basis alkagesta, universal solvent, for the spirit is always stronger than the matter, and no matter can not resist him.
Where does this essence "Philosopher's Stone", this substrate spirituality? Paradoxical as it sounds — the alchemist of the soul, or rather, of his immortal spirit.
Alchemists have always argued that in the process of making the philosopher's stone man himself must be transformed internally. We can say that these two transformations — creating the philosopher's stone and transmutation, spiritual growth alchemist — just two faces of the same process, the same evolution. And the resulting years of work the Sorcerer's Stone — it's just a visible proof of the spiritual path alchemist, who then have no need of gold, nor honors, nothing tangible. In support of this story tells us about the fabulously wealthy alchemists, who spent their vast fortunes to help the poor, for the public good, leaving himself only necessities.
After all this, it becomes clear that alchemy — this way a few. And by the way no one should be fooled, because if you only came for the gold, you do not get anything, but if you came to become man, you get everything, of course, if you get to the end.
Could the alchemists to make gold? And they could, and did: but the gold itself does not play any role here!
The history of the Scottish nobleman Seton. In 1602, he performed in the Netherlands a number of successful transmutations. This brought him fame, and a few years later, he was in Strasbourg, where he settled the famous goldsmith Gyustengofera, which left some philosopher's stone. Emperor Rudolf II in Prague invited Gyustengofera. But the Philosopher's Stone, left Seton, was soon exhausted, and the unfortunate transmutator, who could not produce gold, had to die in prison.
Of the Seton fate brought in Saxony, where the Christian II imprisoned him in a dungeon. Despite the incredible torture, who has brought him almost to death, alchemist stubbornly kept his secret. From prison, he rescued a Polish Sendzivoy and brought to Krakow. Here Seton died from injuries inflicted on him, but before his death gave Sendzivoyu his philosopher's stone, without revealing the secret of its manufacture. With this tool, Sendzivoy pay different metals into gold at the court of Sigismund III in Kraków, as there are undeniable historical evidence, and was invited to Prague, where the Emperor Rudolf, received from him a little bit of powder, he made a wonderful change.
In Württemberg, Prince Frederick took Sendzivoya with high honors, but envied him Alchemist Myulenfels secretly captured him, took the philosopher's stone and put him in prison. When it was opened, Myulenfels was hanged as a punishment, but Sendzivoy stone got back, he did not know how to do it and turned into a mere adventurer.
After Roger Bacon in Europe, many were engaged in alchemy. It is the flowering of XIII century. A versatile scholar Albertus Magnus, Arnold of Villanova, Raymond Lull — a galaxy of eminent scientists who relied on the knowledge of their predecessors, in particular the works of X century Arab scholar Jafar (gerbera), devoted all his energy put problem, which was approved by such an authority as Thomas Aquinas.
Raymund Lull — a philosopher, writer, author of several hundred works, the developer of the first logical machine — during the life of the reputation skilful alchemist alchemy reached by all she can give. He claimed that with the help of the philosopher's stone can turn any amount of mercury in gold.
"Take a piece of the precious drug-sized bean. Give him a thousand ounces of mercury — the latter will become a red powder. Heap ounce of the powder to a thousand ounces of mercury — and it can also turn into a red powder. If this take one ounce of powder and throw on thousand ounces of mercury — all turn to medication. ounce Give this medicine with a new thousand ounces of mercury — and it will turn into gold, which is better than mine. "
"Note well — wrote Lull — the philosophers stone material is cheap. It is found everywhere."
The famous Dutch chemist Jan Baptist van Helmont (1579-1644) wrote in his book "The eternal life": "I have seen and kept in the hands of the philosophers stone: it is similar in color to the saffron powder, only heavy and shiny as the crushed glass. "
And in the same place: "One day I was given fourth grain (faces I call 1/600 of an ounce.) I connected the fourth side, wrapped in paper, with 8 ounces of mercury heated in a retort. Immediately, all of the mercury with the noise frozen, ceasing to boil. Once everything cooled down, left 8 ounces and a little less than 11 grams of pure gold. "
In another essay van Helmont describes how several times turned similarly mercury in gold nuggets with the philosopher's stone. "I've been doing these transformations own hand with one gram of powder per 1000 grams of mercury hot, and the experience was a success in the fire, as it is described in the book, much to the delight of all those who stood around me …"
Van Helmont recognized that the composition of the philosopher's stone and remained unknown to him. Both times he got it out of the hands of a man who did not know.
Johann Frederick Helvetius, the famous physician and scientist of the XVII century, claimed that in 1666 he was visited by a stranger who found high knowledge, who showed him three pieces of stone, "each the size of a small walnut, transparent, pale gray." After much persuasion, agreed to leave the stranger Helvetia piece of stone. The next day, Helvetius had expected, as it was a top-secret, came a stranger, but he never showed up.
Then Helvetius, thinking that it was some kind of crook and a liar, and wanting to make sure of it, melted, as he was told, 6 pieces of silver and tin in the presence of his son and wife there poured the powder obtained.
"When the train has cooled down — wrote Helvetius — he shone like gold. We immediately took it to a jeweler, who once said that it is the pure gold of all the samples ever coming across him, and immediately offered to pay for it by 50 florins per ounce. "
When this case was known to Baruch Spinoza, philosopher personally sought out a jeweler who bought this gold, which confirmed the story.
"After that, — says Spinoza in one of the letters — I went to the very Helvetia, who showed me and the most gold and plavilnik, still covered with gold inside."