Lesson 3 Atomos, Aristotle and Alchemy (Chemistry Before Modern History)

a science that was used in the Middle Ages with the goal of changing ordinary metals into gold from the Arabic/Greek alkīmiyā or “the art of transmuting”

 Lesson 3 Atomos, Aristotle and Alchemy (Chemistry Before Modern History)

1. LESSON 3:

2. CONTENT How the idea of the atom, along with the idea of the elements evolved CONTENT STANDARD At the end of the lesson, you will have to describe: 1. how the concept of the atom evolved from Ancient Greek to the present; and 2. how the concept of the element evolved from Ancient Greek to the present LEARNING COMPETENCIES At the end of the lesson, you will have to: 1. describe the ideas of the Ancient Greeks on the atom (S11/12PS-IIIa-b-5) 2. describe the ideas of the Ancient Greeks on the elements (2 hours) (S11/12PS-IIIa-b-6) 3. describe the contributions of the alchemists to the science of chemistry (S11/12PS-IIIb-7)


4. KEY TERMS 1) Leucippus and Democritus – 2) Atomism – 3) Aristotle – 4) Jabir Ibn-Hayyan (Geber) – 5) Alchemy – 6) Protoscience – 7) Pseudoscience –

5. Atoms Atoms are simply gnomes in their smallest form. So small, one can’t even see these gnomes under a microscope. Each of these itty-bitty gnomes hold hands and feet to build webs of atoms which create everything we have in our infinite universe. From drawers to doors- it’s all made of gnomes! Radioactivity arises when one unwanted gnome is thrown from his structure and hurdles toward another.

6. Gravity Gnomes like the ground. Gnomes throw small invisible ropes to the ground. These ropes attach to unseen hooks that enable muscle-toned gnomes to pull themselves toward the ground. There is minimal gravity far from planetary bodies (i.e. in space) because gnomes don’t have cables long enough for them. All bodies experience gravitational attraction to each other quite simply because gnomes are, to put it mildly, sociable creatures.

7. Light Gnomes that make up our eyes can see what color hats other gnomes are wearing to make up, say, a table. They then hi-five gnomes in our ‘optical nerve’ who run to tell the brain gnomes what they have seen. This makes us think we are seeing a table when in fact, it’s all gnomes.

8. States of Matter A solid is little more than a closely compacted configuration of gnomes all holding hands, wearing hats and having legs. Heating causes gnomes to become excited or tickled. They start to loosen their grip of their neighbors (liquid). When gnomes are tickled, they are no longer able to hold on and just float away in groups of one or more (gas). Sometimes the gnomes get so excited they catch fire (plasma).

9. OUTLINE OF TOPICS I. Atomism II. Non-atomistic views of the Greeks III. Growth of alchemy across different civilizations IV. Western Alchemy

10. Leucippus and Democritus • were two of the most important theorists about the natural and physical world • they were called physicists in Ancient Greece • they considered the idea of atomism

11. ATOMISM  the idea that things are made up of much smaller things that cannot be changed nor divided.

12. ATOMISM • Atoms make up most of the things in the universe; where there are no atoms, there is a void. • Atoms are incredibly small and cannot be divided, hence atomos (uncuttable). • Atoms themselves are solid, homogeneous and cannot change. • Atoms moving about and colliding in the void cause the changes we see in our universe. • The shapes, sizes and weights of individual atoms influence the characteristics of the thing they make up.

13. Non-atomistic views of the Greeks Anaxagoras He is a philosopher that argued that there was an infinite number of elementary natural substances in the form of infinitesimally small particles that combined to comprise the different things in the universe.

14. Non-atomistic views of the Greeks Empedocles He is a philosopher who stated that everything is made up of four eternal and unchanging kinds of matter fire, air (all gases), water (all liquids and metals) and earth (all solids).

15. Non-atomistic views of the Greeks Plato Each of the four kinds of matter is composed of geometrical solids (“Platonic solids”) further divisible into triangles.

16. Non-atomistic views of the Greeks Aristotle The four elements could be balanced in substances in an infinite number of ways, and that when combined gave proportions of “essential qualities,” hot, dry, cold and wet. Transformations between the four elements caused changes in the universe.

17. ALCHEMY a science that was used in the Middle Ages with the goal of changing ordinary metals into gold from the Arabic/Greek alkīmiyā or “the art of transmuting”

18. Mesopotamians • had techniques to utilize metals like gold and copper • assigned certain symbols to match metals with the heavenly bodies such as the Sun and Moon • made use of other materials such as dyes, glass, paints, and perfumes.

19. Egyptians • adapted techniques from the Mesopotamians and perfected the use of bronze, dye and glass that the Greeks later copied.

20. Chinese • had their own processes for metalwork and ceramic materials • focused on finding minerals, plants and substances that could prolong life • Some of the substances discovered in Chinese medicine have been found to have actual positive effects while others were found useless or even harmful, like mercury.

21. Indians • like the Chinese, had a kind of alchemy (rasayana) that looked at different substances and practices for Vedic medicine. This is tied closely to Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. • perfected the use of iron and steel • well-known manufacturers of dyes, glass, cement, solutions for textiles, and soap.

22. Arabs and Muslims • enriched not only the practice but also the literature of chemistry.

23. Arabs and Muslims Jabir Ibn-Hayyan  a scholar, also “Geber”  translated the practices and Aristotelian thinking of the Greeks and wrote extensively on how metals can be purified. He came up with the preparation of acids such as nitric, hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, as well as aqua regia (nitro-hydrochloric acid).

24. The field of alchemy became popular in the Western world because of Aristotle’s ideas on the elements and the techniques developed by other civilizations. Alchemists tried to play with the balance of the four elements (fire, water, air, earth) and three principles (salt, sulfur and mercury) to transform or transmute substances. Among their aims was to try and transform “impure” or “base” metals like lead or iron into the “purer” metals of silver or gold, discover a magical “Philosopher’s Stone,” and produce the so-called “Elixir of Life.” With a T-chart, distinguish how alchemy both contributed to and hampered scientific thought.

25. Scientific Contributions Unscientific Contributions refined how to crystallize, condense, distill, evaporate and dissolve metals and materials used incantations, magic spells and symbols took lots of notes and information about what they did used esoteric symbols connected to astrology and religion developed step-by-step procedures and specialized set-ups or equipment concerned with riches, purity, immortality, and spirits discovered and investigated the properties of many now-useful substances such as phosphorus, sulfur and potash promoted the Aristotelian concept of the elements

26. Protoscience  An unscientific field of study which later developed into real science (e.g. astrology toward astronomy and alchemy toward chemistry).  also called “emerging science” or “near science”

27. Pseudoscience  consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that are claimed to be scientific and factual, in the absence of evidence gathered and constrained by appropriate scientific methods

28. Alchemy: Lead Into Gold Alchemy is both a philosophy and a practice with an aim of achieving ultimate wisdom as well as immortality, involving the improvement of the alchemist as well as the making of several substances described as possessing unusual properties. The practical aspect of alchemy generated the basics of modern inorganic chemistry, namely concerning procedures, equipment and the identification and use of many current substances. The fundamental ideas of alchemy are said to have arisen in the ancient Persian Empire. Alchemy has been practised in Mesopotamia (comprising much of today’s Iraq), Egypt, Persia (today’s Iran), India, China, Japan, Korea and in Classical Greece and Rome, in the Muslim civilizations, and then in Europe up to the 20th century, in a complex network of schools and philosophical systems spanning at least 2500 years.

29. The best-known goals of the alchemists were the transmutation of common metals into gold (called chrysopoeia) or silver (less well known is plant alchemy, or “spagyric”); the creation of a “panacea”, or the elixir of life, a remedy that, it was supposed, would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely; and the discovery of a universal solvent. Although these were not the only uses for the discipline, they were the ones most documented and well-known. Certain Hermetic schools argue that the transmutation of lead into gold is analogical for the transmutation of the physical body (Saturn or lead) into Solar energy (gold) with the goal of attaining immortality. This is described as Internal Alchemy. Starting with the Middle Ages, Arabic and European alchemists invested much effort in the search for the “philosopher’s stone”, a legendary substance that was believed to be an essential ingredient for either or both of those goals.

30. Lead (atomic number 82) and gold (atomic number 79) are defined as elements by the number of protons they possess. Changing the element requires changing the atomic (proton) number. The number of protons cannot be altered by any chemical means. However, physics may be used to add or remove protons and thereby change one element into another. Because lead is stable, forcing it to release three protons requires a vast input of energy, such that the cost of transmuting it greatly surpasses the value of the resulting gold. Transmutation of lead into gold isn’t just theoretically possible – it has been achieved.. There are reports that Glenn Seaborg, 1951 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, succeeded in transmuting a minute quantity of lead (possibly en route from bismuth, in 1980) into gold. There is an earlier report (1972) in which Soviet physicists at a nuclear research facility near Lake Baikal in Siberia accidentally discovered a reaction for turning lead into gold when they found the lead shielding of an experimental reactor had changed to gold.

Source Abbie Mahinay

Categories: Alchemy

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