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Episode 48: Alchemy

Image from a 1729 alchemical book by Georg von Welling. The book is part of CHF’s Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library. Photo by Douglas A. Lockard.

This week’s image comes from a 1729 alchemical book by Georg von Welling. The book is part of CHF’s Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library. Photo by Douglas A. Lockard.

 

Alchemy is about a lot more than turning lead into gold or making the philosopher’s stone. Until the 17th century, alchemists worked hard in their laboratories to produce medicines, develop metal- and glass-working techniques, and uncover the quintessential essence of all earthly and celestial matter. This week, Distillations explores the wonders and pitfalls of alchemy—a predecessor to chemistry. CHF’s Anke Timmermann reviews Tara Nummedal’s Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire, and producer Nina Goodby visits the Corning Museum of Glass to see their latest exhibit, Glass of the Alchemists. Element of the week: Quintessence.

Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
00:31 Introduction
01:09 Element of the Week: Quintessence
02:54 Review of Tara Nummedal’s Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire
06:34 Alchemy at the Corning Museum of Glass
11:15 Closing Credits

Resources and References

Visit NOVA online to read up on Isaac Newton’s use of alchemy.
Learn the tricks of the trade in the rare alchemical books of CHF’s Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library.
Check out Glass of the Alchemists at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Credits

Special thanks go to Anke Timmermann for researching the show.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music from the PodSafe Music Network. Additional music is “Velvet,” by Liquid Alchemy, “Bach’s Badinerie,” by Brunswick Due, “Alien Alchemy,” by manmanly, “Raining Steel,” by Disparition, “Bach’s Partita,” by Brunswick Duo, and “The Unknown Halloween Version,” by Savant Trigger.

Posted In: Society

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