ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

The art of alchemy

A new book explores the mystery and symbolism of the early days of chemistry

Manasee Wagh
Before there was chemistry there was alchemy. So before there was art about chemistry, there was art about alchemy. For previous generations of chemists, so much of how things work was a mystery, so artwork that featured animals, astronomical objects, and other aspects of nature contained significant symbolic meaning. As time went on, of course, modern experimental methods turned people away from mysticism, and alchemy became a piece of the past. From Alchemy to Chemistry in Picture and Story by organic chemist Arthur Greenberg at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, published this year, presents the images and stories that emerged from chemistry's early days. The book takes a world view, covering the four primordial elements of the ancient Greeks, the pit-fired colored clay pots of the South Carolina Catawba Native Americans, and modern scientists' discovery of subatomic particles. Many of the images depict discoveries or ideas that had...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?
ADVERTISEMENT