Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Everything old is nano again?

My friends in the molecular manufacturing community are going to crucify me for this one, but this sounds an awful lot like a "desktop nanofactory."

Did Monks try to make gold? (By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News)

May 5, 2006 — A ceramic cone unearthed at a remote British abbey might indicate that Cistercian monks implemented the Benedectine motto "ora et labora" (pray and work) with another rule: "make gold."

On display for the first time at Bylands Abbey, which was founded in 1137 by Cistercian monks in North Yorkshire, the cone is what's known as an alembic.


The alembic could have been used in medicinal preparations, to distill alcoholic spirits by monks who fancied an illicit tipple, or in pursuit of the alchemist's dream — gold.


Following the Aristotelian theory of elements, which stated that all things consisted of fire, air, water and earth, the early alchemists believed that gold could be obtained by altering the elements in a base metal.

A little shift in one metal's composition would have made a metal of low esteem, such as lead, turn into tin, iron, copper, mercury and finally, gold. Alchemists would have also tried to stimulate transmutation with a specific agent — the legendary philosopher's stone. More here

And what was a philosopher's stone? Wikipedia says:
The philosopher's stone, in Latin philosophi lapis, is a mythical substance that supposedly could turn inexpensive metals into gold and/or create an elixir that would make humans younger, thus delaying death.

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