Science and Life; Aberdeen Adresses

General Books, 2013 - 68 páginas
This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can usually download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1920 edition. Excerpt: ... THE EVOLUTION OF MATTER1 The ultimate constitution of matter is a subject which has always exercised a powerful attraction upon the minds of men. Philosophical speculations of the essential unity of all matter and of the possibility of transforming the different kinds into one another have come down to us from the ancients. The modern science of Chemistry had its origin in the actual attempts at such transformation or transmutation made by the alchemists in the Middle Ages. These attempts centred around the transmutation of lead or other base metal into gold, and the alchemists believed that there existed, and spent their lives trying to discover, a "philosopher's stone" to which was ascribed the power to effect this transmutation in almost unlimited amount. The philosopher's stone was also credited with acting as a universal medicine, prolonging life and health indefinitely, or at least to periods rivalling those enjoyed by the Hebrew patriarchs of old. Whether these ideas were wholly the inventions of charlatans, or whether they were the distorted parrot-like repetition of the wisdom of a lost Atlantis, none can now say. But it may be remarked that sober modern science of to-day sees in the power to effect transmutation of the elements the power to prolong the physical welfare of the community for indefinite periods. Indeed, without some such discovery the phase of civilisation, ushered in by 1 Contributed to the Aberdeen University Review, February 1917. science, must from its very nature be but transitory. We are spending improvidently in a year the physical means of life that would have sufficed our ancestors for a century, and the exhaustion of the available supplies of energy, upon which the present era of the world relies, is...

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