The Seven Follies of Science [2nd Ed.]

The Seven Follies of Science [2nd Ed.]

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Excerpt: ...writings, each metal was called by the name of that one of the heavenly bodies which was supposed to be connected with it in influence and quality. In the astronomy of the ancients, as is generally known, the earth occupied the center of the universe, and the list of planets included the sun and moon. After them came Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. To the metal gold was given the name of Sol, or the sun, on account of its brightness and its power of resisting corroding agents; hence the compounds of gold were known as solar compounds and solar medicines. As might have been expected, silver was assigned to Luna or the moon, and in the modern pharmacop ia such terms as lunar caustic and lunar salts still have a place. Mercury was, of course, appropriated to the planet of that name. Copper was named after Venus, and cupreous salts were known as venereal salts. Iron, probably from its being the metal chiefly used for making arms and armor, was dedicated to Mars, and we still speak of martial salts. Tin was named after Jupiter from his brilliancy, 83 the compounds of tin being called jovial salts. The dull, leaden color of Saturn, with his apparently heavy and slow motion, seemed to fit him for association with lead, and we still have the saturnine ointment as a reminder of old alchemical times. Of these metals gold was supposed to be the only one that was perfect, and the belief was general that if the others could be purified and perfected they would be changed to gold. Many of the old chemists worked faithfully and honestly to accomplish this, but the path to wealth seemed so direct and the means for deception were so ready and simple, that large numbers of quacks and charlatans entered the field and held out the most alluring inducements to dupes who furnished them liberally with money and other necessaries in the hope that when the discovery was made they would be put in possession of unbounded wealth. These dupes were more

Product details

  • Paperback
  • 189 x 246 x 3mm | 104g
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1236714784
  • 9781236714787