Indiana University science historian William Newman built a 17th century laboratory to recreate the work of alchemists. According to Newman, these early makers had a method to their madness, resulting in a "A solid body of repeated and repeatable observations of laboratory results." Discover sent a photographer to Newman's lab for a feature in the new issue. From a teaser on Discover's blog:
Here we have Professor Newman holding a beaker of concentrated nitric acid (aqua fortis) dissolving copper into a green solution. At his left foot is a large glass bottle of nitrogen dioxide in the process of combining with water vapor to form more nitric acid, according to the recipe supplied by Isaac Newton.
Newman is the co-author with Lawrence M. Principe of a book titled Alchemy Tried In The Fire: Starkey, Boyle, and the Fate of Helmontian Chymistry
. It sounds fascinating, as do Newman's other books
on alchemy! From the Alchemy Tried In The Fire book description:
Using, as their guide, the previously misunderstood interactions between Robert Boyle, widely known as "the father of chemistry," and George Starkey, an alchemist and the most prominent American scientific writer before Benjamin Franklin as their guide, Newman and Principe reveal the hitherto hidden laboratory operations of a famous alchemist and argue that many of the principles and practices characteristic of modern chemistry derive from alchemy. By analyzing Starkey's extraordinary laboratory notebooks, the authors show how this American "chymist" translated the wildly figurative writings of traditional alchemy into quantitative, carefully reasoned laboratory practice–and then encoded his own work in allegorical, secretive treatises under the name of Eirenaeus Philalethes.
"Garage Alchemy Is Not for the Weak of Stomach" (Discover)
Alchemy Tried In The Fire: Starkey, Boyle, and the Fate of Helmontian Chymistry (Amazon)
Despite Trump’s denial of climate change the the ghastly attacks on climate science and mitigation in the new proposed budget, the Carbon Bubble — which overprices hydrocarbons and the industries that rely on them, as though we’ll be burning all of them with impunity — is about to pop.
South American polka dot tree frogs are pretty cool, but Julián Faivovich and Carlos Taboada found out they are even cooler when an ultraviolet flashlight is trained on them. They fluoresce. Many animals can see beyond the spectrum visible to humans, and these frogs adapted with this trait. From the abstract: Fluorescence, the absorption of […]
A small (51 men aged 24 +/- 3 years) study published in Neuron tasked experimental subjects with practicing the ancient Greek mnemonic technique of “memory palaces” and then scanned their brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging, comparing the scans to scans from competitive “memory athletes” and also measuring their performance on memorization tasks.
The Lightning port has thus far resisted the cruel fate that befell the headphone jack, and despite rumors that it may be disappearing come iPhone 8, for the present and foreseeable future, Lightning cables are a hot commodity for iPhone users. As such, we must make do in this strange time in which long, glorified […]
All the filters in the world won’t save your smartphone pics from a shaky hand. To really step up your mobile photography game, you’ll need some kind of mount to hold it steady. You could buy a smartphone attachment for a conventional camera tripod, but who wants to carry that kind of gear everywhere they […]
The forced transition from analog to digital TV signals was probably met with relative indifference from people with Netflix subscriptions and the “I don’t even own a TV” snoots. But anyone living in the vast swaths of the country that don’t have guaranteed high-speed internet, broadcast TV is a perfectly valid (and 100% free) way […]