What does one get when you take a pinch of Astronomy, add that to a cup of Biology, cook it in Physics before you place a layer of Astronomy on the rim, decorate it with Herbs and finally wrap it is Science?
Of course there can only be one description - Alchemy. We can also say that Alchemy is the Science of the Universe and all within it. Frankly, it is the Study of Everything. Today our science got so used to dissection and 'specializing' that each discipline becomes a complete entity on its own. The problem we have is that nature and the universe does not work that way. Everything is infinitely linked and every little incident affects everything else.
When one first learn this word and the unfortunate mental image of an alchemist is that of a pointed hat witchdoctor trying to make the magical stone that will turn things into gold. The other image is that of the concoctions made by secret ingredients that can make us live forever. The interesting part is that in some way this is true; but there is so much more.
In short Alchemy includes the study of Astronomy, Astrology, Chemistry, Medicine, Metallurgy, Psychology, Psychiatry and most of all Physics. The science of Alchemy was practiced throughout the Mediterranean, India and China.
Origin & Mythology of Alchemy
Originally the word derives for the very old Greek word 'chemia' and later addition of the Arabic definite term 'al'. Some historians take it further back to Ancient Egypt. The European practice of Alchemy itself dates back to at least the 700 with Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayan.
When one look for modern descriptions of Alchemy we find two major references; the turning of Lead into Gold and making the Elixir of Life. Nothing could be further from the truth . . . or maybe it is not so farfetched after all. More and more modern scientists are taking another look at those old writings of the Alchemists and the more they decipher those codes of old, the more they are surprised by the understanding of the alchemist of old.
A quick look at the Lead to Gold myth. It is well written that some alchemists tried to create the Philosophers stone, which they can then use to turn base metal into gold. The chemical symbol of gold is Au, atomic number is 79 with only one stable isotope and the atomic weight is 196.966 units. That means gold had 79 protons and 79 electrons. Lead has 82 Protons and 82 Electrons.
Is there any reason to think it could be possible to turn other base metals into gold? YES THERE IS. Take the Mercury atom and remove one Proton and one Electron - then Mercury atom will be - gold! If you take the Lead atom and remove 3 protons and 3 electrons as well as the radical neutrons - you will have gold.
Easier than this and actually this does happen in modern day science. Take an atom of Palladium (Pd), bombard it in a nuclear reactor, some atoms of Pd does absorb a Proton and Electron - and does turn into Gold. The only problem is that the process to do this cost millions of times more than the yield of the gold produced.
What is the Philosophers magical stone? Probably some sort of nuclear reactive concoction; one that either emits sub-atomic particles or withdraws it from the base material. The question will then be "Where in the world did alchemist came to know about this thousands of years ago?"
What about the 'Juice of Life' - that which will make it potential for us to live forever? That is easy to explain, but how in the world did the Alchemists came to know about this? We humans are created in such way that it is possible to live forever. Our bodies are suppose to regenerate any tissue, even to grow lost limbs. All of this process is within us, it is all controlled by the glands in our brains. The only problem is that the moment your body is completely formed, just before birth - some of these glands switches off. Others, controlling the growth and regeneration, remains active until around the age of 17 when they 'switch' off and older you get, the less productive the remaining glands becomes.
Thus the simple answer is that it could somehow be possible to re-activate these growth and rejuvenating processes in our brains . . .
Is it still so impossible to understand the quest of some Alchemists? However, this is not all that Alchemy is about. Some of the more famous alchemists were Sir Isaac Newton, Ernest Rutherford, Fulcanelli, Plato, Yogi Vemana, Khalid ibn Yazid, Nolo;a Tesla . . .
Alchemy in the 21st Century.
There is a slight movement back to the original concepts of Alchemy; in the overall practice of not only knowing one single subject, but rather to take an existence and view it from all science angles. We can't no longer think Electricity is only for the electrician, or astronomy is only for telescopes and NASA.
Progressively scientists realizes that Astronomy must also include electrical phenomena, and that of magnetism and that of chemistry and that of - well everything. We learned now that biology must include astronomy, we are seeing it more and more in nature that the tides of the moon and emissions of the sun also have direct effects on every living organism. If you want to study the sun, you need to understand nuclear physics.
Ultimately, everything is part of everything else. Whatever we really wish to achieve in whatever future development of science - we will need to follow the holistic approach.