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<font size="4">PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION</font>
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It is exceedingly gratifying to me that a second edition of this book should be called for. But still more welcome is the change in the attitude of the educated world towards the old-time alchemists and their theories which has taken place during the past few years.
   
<p style="text-align:center;">It is exceedingly gratifying to me that a second edition of this book
+
The theory of the origin of Alchemy put forward in Chapter I has led to considerable discussion; but whilst this theory has met with general acceptance, some of its earlier critics took it as implying far more than is actually the case. As a result of further research my conviction of its truth has become more fully confirmed, and in my recent work entitled _Bygone Beliefs_ (Rider, 1920), under the title of “The Quest of the Philosopher’s Stone,” I have found it possible to adduce further evidence in this connection. At the same time, whilst I became increasingly convinced that the main alchemistic hypotheses were drawn from the domain of mystical theology and applied to physics and chemistry by way of analogy, it also became evident to me that the crude physiology of bygone ages and remnants of the old phallic faith formed a further and subsidiary source of alchemistic theory. I have barely, if at all, touched on this matter in the present work; the reader who is interested will find it dealt with in some detail in “The Phallic Element in Alchemical Doctrine” in my _Bygone Beliefs_.
should be called for. But still more welcome is the change in the
 
attitude of the educated world towards the old-time alchemists and their
 
theories which has taken place during the past few years.</p>
 
   
<p style="text-align:center;">The theory of the origin of Alchemy put forward in Chapter I has led to
+
In view of recent research in the domain of Radioactivity and the consequent advance in knowledge that has resulted since this book was first published, I have carefully considered the advisability of rewriting the whole of the last chapter, but came to the conclusion that the time for this was not yet ripe, and that, apart from a few minor emendations, the chapter had better remain very much as it originally stood. My reason for this course was that, whilst considerably more is known to-day, than was the case in 1911, concerning the very complex transmutations undergone spontaneously by the radioactive elements--knowledge helping further to elucidate the problem of the constitution of the so-called “elements” of the chemist--the problem really cognate to my subject, namely that of effecting a transmutation of one element into another at will, remains in almost the same state of indeterminateness as in 1911. In 1913, Sir William Ramsay thought he had obtained evidence for the transmutation of hydrogen into helium by the action of the electric discharge, and Professors Collie and Patterson thought they had obtained evidence of the transmutation of hydrogen into neon by similar means. But these observations (as well as Sir William Ramsay’s earlier transmutational experiments) failed to be satisfactorily confirmed; and since the death of the latter, little, if anything, appears to have been done to settle the questions raised by his experiments. Reference must, however, be made to a very interesting investigation by Sir Ernest Rutherford on the “Collision of α-Particles with Light Atoms,” from which it appears certain that when bombarded with the swiftly-moving α-particles given off by radium-C, the atoms of nitrogen may be disintegrated, one of the products being hydrogen. The other product is possibly helium, though this has not been proved. In view of Rutherford’s results a further repetition of Ramsay’s experiments would certainly appear to be advisable.}}
considerable discussion; but whilst this theory has met with general
 
acceptance, some of its earlier critics took it as implying far more
 
than is actually the case. As a result of further research my conviction
 
of its truth has become more fully confirmed, and in my recent work
 
entitled _Bygone Beliefs_ (Rider, 1920), under the title of “The Quest
 
of the Philosopher’s Stone,” I have found it possible to adduce further
 
evidence in this connection. At the same time, whilst I became
 
increasingly convinced that the main alchemistic hypotheses were drawn
 
from the domain of mystical theology and applied to physics and
 
chemistry by way of analogy, it also became evident to me that the crude
 
physiology of bygone ages and remnants of the old phallic faith formed a
 
further and subsidiary source of alchemistic theory. I have barely, if
 
at all, touched on this matter in the present work; the reader who is
 
interested will find it dealt with in some detail in “The Phallic
 
Element in Alchemical Doctrine” in my _Bygone Beliefs_.</p>
 
   
<p style="text-align:center;">In view of recent research in the domain of Radioactivity and the
+
<center>
consequent advance in knowledge that has resulted since this book was
+
'''<font size="4">What is this passage from</font>'''
first published, I have carefully considered the advisability of
+
</center>
rewriting the whole of the last chapter, but came to the conclusion that
 
the time for this was not yet ripe, and that, apart from a few minor
 
emendations, the chapter had better remain very much as it originally
 
stood. My reason for this course was that, whilst considerably more is
 
known to-day, than was the case in 1911, concerning the very complex
 
transmutations undergone spontaneously by the radioactive
 
elements--knowledge helping further to elucidate the problem of the
 
constitution of the so-called “elements” of the chemist--the problem
 
really cognate to my subject, namely that of effecting a transmutation
 
of one element into another at will, remains in almost the same state of
 
indeterminateness as in 1911. In 1913, Sir William Ramsay thought he
 
had obtained evidence for the transmutation of hydrogen into helium by
 
the action of the electric discharge, and Professors Collie and
 
Patterson thought they had obtained evidence of the transmutation of
 
hydrogen into neon by similar means. But these observations (as well as
 
Sir William Ramsay’s earlier transmutational experiments) failed to be
 
satisfactorily confirmed; and since the death of the latter, little,
 
if anything, appears to have been done to settle the questions raised by
 
his experiments. Reference must, however, be made to a very interesting
 
investigation by Sir Ernest Rutherford on the “Collision of α-Particles
 
with Light Atoms,” from which it appears certain that when bombarded
 
with the swiftly-moving α-particles given off by radium-C, the atoms of
 
nitrogen may be disintegrated, one of the products being hydrogen. The
 
other product is possibly helium, though this has not been proved. In
 
view of Rutherford’s results a further repetition of Ramsay’s
 
experiments would certainly appear to be advisable.</p>
 
 
[[Category:Blog posts]]
 
[[Category:Blog posts]]

Latest revision as of 08:55, July 18, 2013

PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

It is exceedingly gratifying to me that a second edition of this book should be called for. But still more welcome is the change in the attitude of the educated world towards the old-time alchemists and their theories which has taken place during the past few years.

The theory of the origin of Alchemy put forward in Chapter I has led to considerable discussion; but whilst this theory has met with general acceptance, some of its earlier critics took it as implying far more than is actually the case. As a result of further research my conviction of its truth has become more fully confirmed, and in my recent work entitled _Bygone Beliefs_ (Rider, 1920), under the title of “The Quest of the Philosopher’s Stone,” I have found it possible to adduce further evidence in this connection. At the same time, whilst I became increasingly convinced that the main alchemistic hypotheses were drawn from the domain of mystical theology and applied to physics and chemistry by way of analogy, it also became evident to me that the crude physiology of bygone ages and remnants of the old phallic faith formed a further and subsidiary source of alchemistic theory. I have barely, if at all, touched on this matter in the present work; the reader who is interested will find it dealt with in some detail in “The Phallic Element in Alchemical Doctrine” in my _Bygone Beliefs_.

In view of recent research in the domain of Radioactivity and the consequent advance in knowledge that has resulted since this book was first published, I have carefully considered the advisability of rewriting the whole of the last chapter, but came to the conclusion that the time for this was not yet ripe, and that, apart from a few minor emendations, the chapter had better remain very much as it originally stood. My reason for this course was that, whilst considerably more is known to-day, than was the case in 1911, concerning the very complex transmutations undergone spontaneously by the radioactive elements--knowledge helping further to elucidate the problem of the constitution of the so-called “elements” of the chemist--the problem really cognate to my subject, namely that of effecting a transmutation of one element into another at will, remains in almost the same state of indeterminateness as in 1911. In 1913, Sir William Ramsay thought he had obtained evidence for the transmutation of hydrogen into helium by the action of the electric discharge, and Professors Collie and Patterson thought they had obtained evidence of the transmutation of hydrogen into neon by similar means. But these observations (as well as Sir William Ramsay’s earlier transmutational experiments) failed to be satisfactorily confirmed; and since the death of the latter, little, if anything, appears to have been done to settle the questions raised by his experiments. Reference must, however, be made to a very interesting investigation by Sir Ernest Rutherford on the “Collision of α-Particles with Light Atoms,” from which it appears certain that when bombarded with the swiftly-moving α-particles given off by radium-C, the atoms of nitrogen may be disintegrated, one of the products being hydrogen. The other product is possibly helium, though this has not been proved. In view of Rutherford’s results a further repetition of Ramsay’s experiments would certainly appear to be advisable.

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