If today we associate “alchemist” with “charlatan”, it is because history has given the study of alchemy a bad rap: “The most famous alchemical pursuit, chrysopoeia (the transmutation of base metals into gold), was viewed with a mixture of greed and terror by the political authorities of the time. Such knowledge might bring enormous wealth to those who had it, but it had the ability to destroy the currency. Many countries passed laws forbidding the transmutation of metals, even as their kings secretly patronised alchemy hoping to gain an advantage over other monarchs.”
Far from practicing witchcraft, the experimentation of medieval alchemists helped bring about the Scientific Revolution.
Innovative thinking has done away with problems that long dogged the electric devices — and both scientists and environmentalists are excited about the possibilities.
Along with gravitational lensing and ALMA’s incredible long-wavelength spectroscopy, JWST is reshaping our view of the early Universe.
Adopting a healthy scepticism towards inherited ideas means “emptying the container of the Self.”