Evolution of Alchemy into Chemistry

Essay by garenHigh School, 11th gradeA+, April 2007

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[The] History of chemistry especially alchemy… The most lively imagination is not capable of devising a thought which could have acted more powerfully and consistently on the minds and faculties of men, than the very idea of the Philosopher’s Stone. Without this idea, chemistry would not now stand in its present perfection… [For] in order to know that the Philosopher’s Stone did not really exist, it was indispensable that every substance accessible… should be observed and examined (Liebig 53).

Justis von Liebig, along with many more today, believed that alchemy was the precursor of chemistry. The idea of alchemy was considered old by 300 BC and it continued to grow throughout the entire world, even if there was no real link between civilizations until the 1800’s. The search for riches and immortality was such an awe-inspiring ideal that it called the attention of every great mind from Isaac Newton to Frederic Soddy.

It is often compared to the tale where a man told his two sons that he left them gold buried in his vineyard; after digging the sons found no gold, but by turning the soil, a plentiful vintage was produced. One can see how then, that the search for mystical things, especially alchemy, led to technology today.

Most historians accept that alchemy did not derive from one source but arose in most, if not all early civilizations (Brock 3). For example all countries that developed metallurgy, such as Siberia, and Indonesia had mythologies that explained the metals presence and growth (Brock 4). For example it was common belief, in some places, that metals “grew in the womb of nature” (Brock 5). Also there is the fact that people just naturally search for what alchemy provides. Egypt and China, two entirely different civilizations, separated by miles of land, water,