“Newton’s Recipe for Alchemists’ Mercury Rediscovered” in Chemistry World
March 17, 2016 - Philadelphia, PA
Excerpted from an article by Emma Stoye
A 17th century alchemy manuscript handwritten by Isaac Newton has been bought by the US’s Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) after being kept in a private collection for decades.
The document is a copy of a known text authored by another alchemist, written in Latin, as was common practice at the time. Its title translates as ‘Preparation of the [Sophick] Mercury for the [Philosophers'] Stone by the Antimonial Stellate Regulus of Mars and Luna from the Manuscripts of the American Philosopher’. It describes a process for making ‘sophick’ – short for ‘philosophic’ – mercury.
‘Philosophic mercury was [thought to be] a substance that could be used to break down metals into their constituent parts,’ explains James Voelkel, the CHF’s curator of rare books. ‘The idea is if you break the metals down you can then reassemble them and make different metals.’ The process was part of the effort to make the philosopher’s stone, he adds, a mythical substance that alchemists believed could turn lead into gold.
Read the article in Chemistry World.