Celebrating 17 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY™
Find science on or your birthday



107
Stories About Chemistry

INDEX

41.  A Hymn to Modern Alchemists

   The ill-starred alchemists of the Middle Ages were tortured as ordained by the Spanish Inquisition and were burned at the stake. Today's "nuclear"' alchemists are quoted with deference and awarded Nobel Prizes.

   The former believed in too much and knew not what they did. Their "theory" consisted of invocations, prayers, and blind faith in the magic properties of the mysterious philosopher's stone. The latter believe neither in God nor in the Devil. They believe in the power of the human mind and in the boundless ingenuity of human hands. They recognize strict and sound physical theories consisting of a great deal of physics, a great deal of mathematics, and still more bold assumptions and hypotheses.

   The alchemists of our day are trying to break through into the domain of the very heavy elements. But will this not liken them to builders of castles in the air? We have just said that the life­times radioactivity assigned to elements with atomic numbers close to 110 were more than rigorous. This is so, and yet not quite so. The great Danish physicist Niels Bohr once spoke of the good of "crazy" ideas. In his opinion only they are capable of revolutionizing current conceptions of the universe. 

   The creators of the super-heavy elements also have such ideas. Only we daresay these ideas are not much "crazier"' than, say, those of the theory of relativity. They are thoroughly thought out, have a sound physical footing and have been checked by careful calculation.





who invites your feedback

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton

Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.