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SEARCHING THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE: FROM MYTH TO UTOPIA
125 years of chemical research at the University of València

Sofre
Sofre. Llicència Creative Commons CC0
 
 
 
 
 
 
The dream of alchemists was finding the legendary philosopher’s stone, which had magnificent properties including turning base metals into gold or silver and providing its user with the gift of the eternal youth. In this secretive tradition, the alchemists shared their formula to one another to obtain the stone.
 
The myth became a utopia and the utopia turned into a metaphor. Chemistry, even before it became a proper science, has always intended to transform base matter into noble or useful metals. Many of the technological revolutions in history that have caused a transformation of the society were based on chemist-based progress. For instance, the discovery of copper, bronze an iron had a great impact in Antiquity. The Tyrian purple enabled the Phoenicians to create one of the first trading centres. The discovery of the mortar allowed new building techniques to be invented, such as the glass, pottery, cosmetics and perfumes. Another example is the discovery of fermentation, which made wine and beer possible to obtain. Many of these discoveries were the result of luck (serendipity or stroke of luck) but the spirit of the observation and systematisation of the chemical substances was key in creating a doctrine that addressed the transformation of the matter. It is true that sometimes what was once a short-time solution became a problem, even at global scale, in the long-term. However, although chemistry had been part of the problem, it will necessarily be part of the solution.
 
 
 
 
 
Michael Maier, 1568?-1622, Michaelis Majeri... Secretoris naturae secretorum scrutinium chymicum: per oculis et intellectui accurate accommodata, figuris cupro
appositissime incise, ingenissima emblemata, hisque confines et ad rem egregie facientes sententias, doctissimaque epigrammata illustratum...

Francofurti: Impensis Georgii Heinrici Oehrlingii... : Typ. Johannis Philippi Andreae, 1687 
Col·lecció Biblioteca Històrica. Universitat de Valencia.

 

 
 
 
 
 
On the occasion of the 125th anniversary of chemistry studies at the UV, an exhibition has been organised at the Estudi General Room to show casual scenes of daily life. Each one of them shows the omnipresent presence and importance of chemistry in most of our current lives such as in modern electronic gadgets, food, facing, cloths, hygiene… Additionally, in the most prominent cases, the fast progress of the last years and the contribution of the Faculty of Chemistry will be addressed. The exhibition is also located at the Duke of Calabria Room, where essential 15th to 19th century books about alchemy and chemistry coming from the collection of the Historic Library of the UV are exhibited.
 
Ignacio Nebot Gil
 
 
 
 
 
Jean-Jacques Manget, 1652-1742, Jo. Jacobi Mangeti ... Bibliotheca chemica curiosa seu Rerum ad alchemiam pertinentium thesaurus instructissimus.
Genevae: Sumpt. Chouet, G. de Tournes, Cramer, Perachon, Ritter, [et] S. de Tournes, 1702 
Col·lecció Biblioteca Històrica. Universitat de Valencia.