Monday, September 7, 2009

Science projects: 1620

For instance, if a man wishes to superinduce upon silver the yellow colour of gold or an increase of weight (observing the laws of matter), or transparency on an opaque stone, or tenacity on glass, or vegetation on some substance that is not vegetable, — we must consider, I say, what kind of rule or guidance he would most desire.
Bacon had the idea that it would be possible to modify one property of a substance at a time, like making something change color or making something denser.
In gold, for example, the following properties meet. It is yellow in colour, heavy up to a certain weight; malleable or ductile to a certain degree of extension; it is not volatile, and loses none of its substance by the action of fire; it turns into a liquid with a certain degree of fluidity; it is separated and dissolved by particular means; and so on for the other natures which meet in gold.
If you were able to modify each quality of a substance you could eventually turn base metals into gold.   This sounds ridiculous now, but by using Bacon's methods we do in fact know how to turn base metals into gold: just put them in a star and wait for it to explode.  Some day we may be able to it more conveniently; you never know.

--From The New Organum--

1 comment:

chickenlittle said...

Let us take the Road.
Hark! I hear the Sound of Coaches!
The Hour of Attack approaches,
To your Arms, brave Boys, and load.
See the Ball I hold!
Let the Chymists toil like Asses,
Our Fire their Fire surpasses,
And turns all our Lead to Gold

Chorus of Highwaymen, John Gay,
The Beggars' Opera (1728)