Alchemy discussion forum Home
 Search       Members   Calendar   Help   Home 
Search by username
Not logged in - Login | Register 

Interview on BBC Radio 3
 Moderated by: alchemyd  
 New Topic   Reply   Print 
AuthorPost
adammclean
Member


Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 602
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jun 5th, 2012 04:32 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Peter Forshaw & Jennifer Rampling were interviewed on alchemy on BBC Radio 3, April 25th, 2012.
 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b01ghgf4

The interview itself starts about 16 minutes in.

My thanks to  Carl Lavoie for informing me about this.

Carl Lavoie
Member
 

Joined: Wed Feb 25th, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 215
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jun 5th, 2012 05:15 pm
 Quote  Reply 
.

And like Newman and Principe, Jenny Rampling 'goes Labora’ too.

It seems that setting the hand to the plough is the XXIst century approach to the academic study of alchemy. Which makes sense.

.

 

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
Member
 

Joined: Sat Feb 16th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 190
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jun 5th, 2012 08:08 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Hah, good reply by Jenny to the loaded question asking if alchemy was a spiritual quest.

I wonder how much Forshaw is correct blaming Jung for the resurgence of interest in alchemy, given people like 'Fulcanelli' and Archibald Cockren and others who had grown out of the late 19th century revival.

No, the idea of transmutation is not an important metaphor for science, it is a specific term of art. 

The presenter is annoyingly wedded to modern view of science. 

Again, Forshaw suggests it is alchemists who produced gunpowder, is there any evidence for that?  He's right about the medicine (Although green lion being antimony isn't right surely?  Antimony is the grey wolf) but there's distillation and such. 

I think Jenny is being a bit optimistic re. a few more months in the lab to find the philosophers stone.

(I'm working my way through the recipes in the Libellus de alchimia by pseudo-albertus Magnus and it is a bit time consuming.  All the recipes I've tested so far do something, but the latest is proving a little more complex)

 

Last edited on Tue Jun 5th, 2012 08:09 pm by Alexander Guthrie Stewart

adammclean
Member


Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 602
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jun 5th, 2012 08:16 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Yes, it is good to see some researchers revisiting actual alchemical

processes and atttempting to repeat some alchemical experiments

described in the original writings, books and manuscripts of alchemists.

Unfortunately, as these often involve high temperatures, molten metals

or salts, corrosive acids and alkalis, as well as poisonous volatile

substances, these can only be undertaken in a properly equipped

chemical laboratory.

From the 1980s, there was popularised by Frater Albertus in the USA

a type of kitchen chemistry, involving simple low temperature distillations

of herbal material. This was presented as an actual "alchemy" which could

result in plant stones and various such preparations which people were

led to believe could cure them of illnesses. Sadly, this was mere froth and

fabrication and had almost no connection to anything one might recognise as

being recorded in actual alchemical writings. During the last 30 years, this

Frater Albertus concocted "alchemy" seems to have been the one which

has become the popular view of practical alchemy, and is trawled through

in study courses and various web sites.

The important thing, surely, is to explore the original writings of the alchemists

and also attempt to repeat their experimental work.

Last edited on Tue Jun 5th, 2012 08:19 pm by adammclean

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
Member
 

Joined: Sat Feb 16th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 190
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jun 5th, 2012 11:16 pm
 Quote  Reply 
You're definitely correct about the dominance of the Frater Albertus and related views.  There's entire forums full of people who think that way.  They are of course not interested in alchemy in historical context, and it is disturbing how few know of the original texts, although the perpetual problem of lack of proper English translations is a reasonable excuse.

I have to disagree about revisiting actual processes; I'm working my way through the less dangerous ones in the Libellus de Alchimia, Virginia Heines translation, and most can be undertaken at home, if you are appropriately careful.  Although use of mercury or arsenic is going a bit too far.  It would be nice to get proper lab access to try the more interesting recipes.  What Jenny is doing, well, I'm probably not allowed to say yet since it isn't published and I don't know what she has done this year.

I hope Principe's book has more information about the specific experiments he has done, he said at the Cambridge alchemy conference last year that he had made the calcium polysulphide Divine water.  And in one of the papers on alchemy he has a photograph of a metallic tree made according to methods of Starkey and others, but never tells you the actual method. 

And in reply to Carl LAvoie - I started trying practical alchemy stuff about 5 years ago, before I had even heard of Principe, Newman or anyone more modern then Holmyard.  Admittedly it was more for re-enactment purposes, but the practical approach is so obviously what is meant in many manuscripts and by the circumstantial evidence from the likes of Chaucer.  You simply cannot do alchemy without doing the practical side of it. 

adammclean
Member


Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 602
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Jun 5th, 2012 11:37 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Metallic trees are simple. I made a few of these back in 1980.

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/tree_of_silver.html

Carl Lavoie
Member
 

Joined: Wed Feb 25th, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 215
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jun 6th, 2012 02:43 am
 Quote  Reply 
.
And in reply to Carl LAvoie - I started trying practical alchemy stuff about 5 years ago [...] for re-enactment purposes, but the practical approach is so obviously what is meant in many manuscripts and by the circumstantial evidence from the likes of Chaucer. You simply cannot do alchemy without doing the practical side of it.

The paper & the video are from August 29th, 2011 : “If I’m reading an alchemical text,” Principe says, “I can understand more or less what the author is describing” with a little translation. But after actually carrying out the experiment in his small fume hood at Johns Hopkins, he adds, “there are so many more levels of meaning that become clear, and you understand more of what the author is about.”


http://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/89/8935sci4.html?featured=1

.........................................................................................

Alexander you said that you were working your way “through the recipes in the Libellus de alchimia by pseudo-albertus Magnus”, but add that “the latest [recipe] is proving a little more complex”.

Is it Th. Chem. Vol.II (1613), end of p. 487 to p.489 : “Qualiter uno modo solvuntur spiritus in aquam” ?

http://books.google.ca/books?id=Iwl0JAD6xGUC&pg=PA487#v=onepage&q&f=false

.

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
Member
 

Joined: Sat Feb 16th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 190
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jun 6th, 2012 09:05 am
 Quote  Reply 
adammclean wrote: Metallic trees are simple. I made a few of these back in 1980.

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/tree_of_silver.html


That's a page on your website I don't ever recall seeing before.  What a great resource!

Now I have some mercury I might give it a try, taking all due precautions.

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
Member
 

Joined: Sat Feb 16th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 190
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jun 6th, 2012 09:28 am
 Quote  Reply 
Carl Lavoie wrote: Alexander you said that you were working your way “through the recipes in the Libellus de alchimia by pseudo-albertus Magnus”, but add that “the latest [recipe] is proving a little more complex”.

Is it Th. Chem. Vol.II (1613), end of p. 487 to p.489 : “Qualiter uno modo solvuntur spiritus in aquam” ?

http://books.google.ca/books?id=Iwl0JAD6xGUC&pg=PA487#v=onepage&q&f=false

.
Not that one as far as I can tell.  Chapter 38 is titled "How is sulphur dissolved, whitened, and fixe?" and requires you to put together sulphur and calcined alum, sublime them together for a day, at which point it will be black.  Then you repeat and it will turn white.  I can't really manage a sublimation for an entire day on my fire, but it is slowly going blackish.  And the amount of sulphur that is visible outside the mass at the bottom is certainly less than I put in, making me wonder what is going on in it.

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
Member
 

Joined: Sat Feb 16th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 190
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Jun 6th, 2012 07:20 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Carl Lavoie wrote: .

And like Newman and Principe, Jenny Rampling 'goes Labora’ too.

It seems that setting the hand to the plough is the XXIst century approach to the academic study of alchemy. Which makes sense.

.

 


I'm sure there is lots to say/ discuss about the use of reconstruction and re-creation for study of the history of alchemy.  Principe has written a fair bit, although I don't have all of his writings.  The topic is complex though, because firstly you can't always be certain which substance is written about.  Secondly there is the issue of slightly different word usage, e.g. with colours, they were often less specific about colours, just saying red or yellow whereas we might say orange.  Thirdly it raises issues about the differences between someone then interacting with a text and the modern researcher, usually with a different philosophy and religion and natural philosophical outlook, interacting with the text.  Which aught to be corrected for to some degree by the physical experience of the products, the colours, smells etc, but then we risk separating the material from the intellectual in a way which is different from the alchemists of the past. 

More thought required. 


 Current time is 09:24 pm




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez