By Sana Mahmood
The legend and stories about the philosopher’s stone are as old as the beginning of the chemistry. No one can exactly figure out that from where did the concept actually originated. There are different views about it, some says the story started from Greek period, some believe that it has origin in Muslim Alchemy period, some have opinion that it might started from Aristotle concepts but the one thing confirmed is that in all ages of ancient chemistry it exist.
The philosopher’s stone, stone by the river, the tincture or the powder all have the same meaning of an “unknown substance” that has the knowledge and power of creation. It was believed that it can cure all illness, prolong life, revitalize the soul, can transform baser metals into precious one especially in gold and silver. It was believed that elixir of life can be extracted through it. According to Alchemist it is concerned with the perfection of soul of human being.
The concepts apparently originated from the Aristotle period in 8th century, according to the theories each metal is a combination of four basic principles, two of them are exterior and two of them are interior. It was mentioned that the rearrangement of these basic properties can alter the metals from one form to another form i.e. can transform metals. It was the strong imagination that this stone composed of the substance called as carmot.
The mythical stone or Philosopher stone described as the commonly founded subtance but an unnoticed and unrecognized thing. The quest for finding the stone was at its peak at the middle ages of the Alchemists in 17th century. In Arabic it is called as Al-aksir, Jabir bin Hayyan was the well known Alchemist that performed a series of experiments for the exploration of that stone. A large number of experiments were carried out in the laboratories by the interaction of different materials that ultimately led to the knowledge of sciences of chemistry, metallurgy, pharmacology and mainly it set the experimentation basis.
The process by which the common metals like tin, lead, copper and iron can be converted into precious once included a pear-shaped glass crucible known as philosopher’s egg, the process involved heating and color changes were have to determined carefully as the black color indicates the death of old material, white required for silver, then turned into red the highest stage required to turn into gold.
In the modern science the concept of philosophers stone have fell apart. The believes and ideas came to an end in the 19th century after the development of scientific concepts and trends. The imagination and men’s attempt to discover the relation between metals inter atomic arrangement failed. The idea of transforming not lead into gold but death into life seems to have no reasonable basis.
An interesting example is of the king Bohemia Rudolf II, when he found himself in financial difficulties, decided to invest heavily on the search of philosopher’s stone. One of the alchemists Kelly claimed that he found small amount of tincture powder in England in valley of Wales, one is red and other is white. He showed that one drop of these powder can turned heated mercury into gold. He carried with himself the procedure of making those powders but another alchemist found his lie and disclosed that secret that gold when treated with aqua regia converted into red colored powder by which the gold metal can easily be recovered by simple chemical method or heating.
And hence that is how the story and legend of philosopher’s stone comes to an end, all that imaginations and desires of men was just proved to be wrong and false to experimental evidences and nothing like that ever exist.