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alchemy

Alchemy was a medieval “science.” Science is in quotes because alchemy was bunk. The idea behind alchemy was that alchemists thought they could turn matter into other matter, particularly base metals into gold because gold was more valuable.

Needless to say, folks back in medieval times new nothing about atomic forces—the strong force, the electromagnetic force and the weak force. Because of these forces, medieval alchemists had about as much chance of moving protons into or out of atoms, which would have been necessary to turn one of the base metals into gold, as a sea urchin has of building a space ship to travel to another galaxy.

Medieval alchemists also apparently knew nothing about economics, particularly the law of supply and demand. Presumably, they wanted to convert base metals into gold because they could get more money (or goods in a barter society) for gold than for base metals.

However, if they had been successful in easily converting base metals into gold, gold would have become as readily available as base metals. The price would then have dropped and the enormous profits that filled their dreams would have vanished.

I don’t know if future scientists will ever be able to add and remove the protons and electrons to and from an atom at will to achieve the medieval alchemists’ objectives without exploding a moon-sized hole out of our planet. Even if they do, the supply and demand equation will still temper any profits they make from doing so. Act accordingly.

So much for alchemy.

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