History of Chemistry


When did alchemists finally abandon trying to make gold?

In the late 1700s, a scientist named James Price was still hard at work trying to “transmute” metals into gold and silver. In 1782, he claimed he could convert mercury into silver and gold. At first it appeared that his experiments had worked, but conflict rapidly rose. More and more scientists asked to witness the experiments firsthand, and Price eventually lost confidence in the validity of his own work. After disappearing for a few months, in 1783 he invited scientists to his laboratory to witness his experiments in person, but only a few men showed up. In their presence, Price intentionally ingested a poison, killing himself. He was the last of the modern scientists to claim to have achieved the goals of alchemy, and it is no longer believed that anyone will find a simple way to convert inexpensive metals into gold.


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