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Alchemy: History of Science #10

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In fantasy stories, charlatans in fancy robes promise to turn lead into gold. But real alchemists weren’t just mystical misers. They were skilled experimentalists, backed by theories of matter. And they played a huge role in the development of knowledge about one of our fundamental questions: “what is stuff?” *** Crash Course is on Patreon! You can support us directly by signing up at http://www.patreon.com/crashcourse Thanks to the following Patrons for their generous monthly contributions that help keep Crash Course free for everyone forever: Mark Brouwer, Glenn Elliott, Justin Zingsheim, Jessica Wode, Eric Prestemon, Kathrin Benoit, Tom Trval, Jason Saslow, Nathan Taylor, Divonne Holmes à Court, Brian Thomas Gossett, Khaled El Shalakany, Indika Siriwardena, Robert Kunz, SR Foxley, Sam Ferguson, Yasenia Cruz, Eric Koslow, Caleb Weeks, Tim Curwick, Evren Türkmenoğlu, Alexander Tamas, D.A. Noe, Shawn Arnold, mark austin, Ruth Perez, Malcolm Callis, Ken Penttinen, Advait Shinde, Cody Carpenter, Annamaria Herrera, William McGraw, Bader AlGhamdi, Vaso, Melissa Briski, Joey Quek, Andrei Krishkevich, Rachel Bright, Alex S, Mayumi Maeda, Kathy & Tim Philip, Montather, Jirat, Eric Kitchen, Moritz Schmidt, Ian Dundore, Chris Peters, Sandra Aft, Steve Marshall -- Want to find Crash Course elsewhere on the internet? Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/YouTubeCrashCourse Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/TheCrashCourse Tumblr - http://thecrashcourse.tumblr.com Support Crash Course on Patreon: http://patreon.com/crashcourse CC Kids: http://www.youtube.com/crashcoursekids
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Text Comments (522)
Conner Fields (1 hour ago)
I want to see this next episode. Also, we might be approaching the scientific revolution!
xgozulx (5 hours ago)
You did it again! Second time I see the nina and the dog transmutation circle in crash course
Mateo Magnus (5 hours ago)
Pretty cool coming from watching the SHITE out of FMA and hearing the familiar words in this video! Great job
6FT (13 hours ago)
Fullmetal alchemist
Magara The One (14 hours ago)
if you follow conspiracy theories youd have had a mini heart attack when he said the wind blows over the marriage of the moon and saturn
This is an invitation to see a theory on the nature of time! In this theory we have an emergent uncertain future continuously coming into existence relative to the spontaneous absorption and emission of photon energy. The future is unfolding with each photon electron coupling or dipole moment relative to the atoms of the periodic table and the wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is part of a universal process of energy exchange that forms the ever changing world of our everyday life.
Annoying Guy (1 day ago)
Hope you mention Nalanda in the next one
Dominique Parekh (1 day ago)
Interesting topics but the speakers often do not have a good pace. They talk too fast and it is no pleasure to listen. Not good for my blood pressure.
Kalp Shah (1 day ago)
Roman messanger god hank. Greek version is hermes
Hassan AlBalushi (1 day ago)
Did Hank get a haircut mid-video?
Maxi Millions (1 day ago)
Of all possible things... Nina? Why?
Rusty Childers (2 days ago)
That awkward moment when ya gotta stop the video to gather your emotions...
Rusandi Fernando (2 days ago)
Prof Greene, how can I get access to crash course worksheets...fast...coz my finals start in 2 days
Cannan Cursed (2 days ago)
I highly recommend experimentation with entheogens... if you believe you're psychologically fit. you've got a hell of a brain my friend
Cannan Cursed (2 days ago)
flamel allegedly did actually produce said "gold" as well. so Harry Potter was at least loosely refrencing alchemical history
Cannan Cursed (2 days ago)
it's a pattern. the arcanum expirement. it can be applied in multitudes of ways to the initiated. pulvis Solaris is not hard to produce.
CX Ang (2 days ago)
Cool video, but in the part where you mentioned about the Chinese Alchemy you said about the waidan, or pill of immortality, it's actually the 仙丹 which was pronounced sien dan (xiān dān in Chinese pinyin). And fun fact, while trying to produce that, the Chinese created gunpowder!
Sanginius on vacation (2 days ago)
Remember kids . A human soul only costs 1 arm .
Lawrence Calablaster (2 days ago)
One must never forget Henning Brand, who tried to get gold out of distilled urine and accidentally discovered elemental phosphorus.
Lawrence Calablaster (2 days ago)
Heck yes, Mr. Bombasticus, a father of toxicology.
shee py (2 days ago)
Actually the words alchemy and chemistry are originated from the Arabic word "chi-mya" meaning quantity
TheAARSAA (2 days ago)
Alchemy is actually Al-kimia, an arabic word... So, much for the bias, these words came into europe in 1600,,, but the host failed to tell where they came from,,, all the true learners should investigate that... and also similar words like Al-Gebra, Al-Gorithm, Al-Kanon,, thanks
Luke Mileto (3 days ago)
nowI can think where some names of Fullmetal Alchemist characters came from :O
Nehal Jain (3 days ago)
I thought he'd address Paulo Coelho, the writer who wrote the book "the Alchemist" coz I loved that book..
TheRedneckGamer1979 (3 days ago)
nuclear chemists today know how to turn lead into gold, the problem is that it costs more than the highly radioactive isotope of gold is worth but we do know how to do it
Funk Cult (3 days ago)
I shall unlock the secrets of alchemy and create a nugget of purest green.
Yoonmi Kim (3 days ago)
It's not a cheese press, it's an Olive Press, and no, Gutenberg wasn't the first. His contribution to printing in general is the adjustable brackets so you could make different size books, such as trade paperbacks, hardcovers, pulp fiction, etc. First printing Press: Chinese. First movable type: Chinese. First metal movable type: Korean. My typography teacher made me remember these things. (White, BTW before some detractors eyeroll). While Gutenberg so-called invented it in Europe, there is still contention on if he did really "invent" it, or if he stole the idea from someone else on top of that. By the 1400's, though there was plenty of trade routes to show things like Chinese and other texts being printed, so it's not like it would have been that hard. By that time you had the importation of soccer/football, business cards, all of the domesticated goods from West Asia, arches, maths, sciences, scientific method, astronomy, glass blowing, black smiting, etc. So it's really, really hard to argue with the importation of writing, decent ways to make paper, decent ways to make gun powder, that Europeans never saw one single printed page... if they were willing to import all of that stuff from China already (as in paper, jade, silks, business cards, Wheel chairs, etc). Really hard for me to believe.
Ruslan Nurakhmetov (3 days ago)
could you please make video about pharmacology or pharmacy?)
Jasmine Moreno (3 days ago)
is there any books/text books that talk about Alchemy i more detail? And different philosophies and studies of Alchemy?
edi (3 days ago)
The problem of alchemy was that there were no means of analysing your experiments. It's like writing blind. Moreover, if you produced something and wrote down what you did, it would still be a mystery, since most compounds didn't have proper names. For instance, if someone managed to isolate platinum, he wouldn't have called it like that, but most likely something with silver in its name...
Alchemy was much more philosophical than scientific. Search about hermetism
fireaza (4 days ago)
Aw, only 2 references to FMA?
Bill Ionaireben (4 days ago)
Good video, though there are a few cases of successful alchemy (creating gold.) Sort of. Compte de Saint Germain had a consuming furnace which he claimed with special ingredients could turn base metals into gold, he delivered a large diamond that he removed the impurities from to a king. He could improve the properties of copper. He was either a charlatan, successful or a little of both. Casanova credited him to curing his VD. The modern example is that nuclear reactions can cause metals to turn into radioactive gold, though it's more far expensive than gold (and radioactive.) The other example was a king that reportedly made gold, I forget the details but when I knew the details I could never find his name (maybe it was fiction, but I make a point at the end.) The coins from his kingdom are almost identical to gold, just like if you took Tungsten ingots and covered it with a thick enough layer of gold to take an imprint. It has the right weight and would have all the other properties of gold, it would have to be drilled or melted to find out it wasn't gold. The difference was, he didn't make tungsten coins. Chinese metallurgists probably could do something similar, a coin with the right weight/color (though it might not be as soft, unless it's lead mixed to the right weight.)
Diego Campos (4 days ago)
Little bwother... :'(. Sad, reference
Moondog Garvey (4 days ago)
Greek messenger God?
Serge Boyko (4 days ago)
Herbert Hoover, the vacuum guy?
Katelin Soko (4 days ago)
fma's hohenheim makes so much sense now!!! Thank you Crash Course!!!
Steven School Alchemy (4 days ago)
Kevin Hall (4 days ago)
Equivalent exchange baby!
Robin Lefebvre (4 days ago)
Alchemy, or the philosophical way of thinking about what is stuff. If you ask me that's what differentiate humans from animals. BTW, if you guys do Cathedrals, how about some Art History someday ? I'm sure you could do a Crash Course on that
Henri Roggeman (4 days ago)
Guys, splendid, as usual, but... There's this rather annoying reverb effect in the audio.
m&m (4 days ago)
Alkahest? Alchahistory? Von hoeheim
Tori Midori (4 days ago)
your evil for the Nina reference. though I also appreciate it.
nekkidnora (5 days ago)
Oh my god was that a reference to the MOST HEARTBREAKING little girl and dog in anime???
Donnie Russell II (5 days ago)
The invention of gunpowder. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
Ingen (5 days ago)
GUTENBERG WAS BORN IN 1400, NOT 1468. Pathetic mistake.
Something2look4ward2 (5 days ago)
Who painted that wall? Hank looks like he's in a dungeon.
MINIMAN of iron (5 days ago)
F = ma Force = mass*acceleration FullMetal Alchemist CHEMISTRY = PHYSICS
nero wulfee92 (5 days ago)
You can turn lead into gold tho. [flogiston intensifies]
QWERTY man (5 days ago)
the chicken goes cluck. the cow goes moo. the dog goes "eeeedwaaaaaaard~"
bmi9198 (5 days ago)
Don't forget that Alchemy was also a very spiritual practice, as it's mainly derived (in the European tradition) from ancient Hermetic texts and writings.
Mrpersonman0 (5 days ago)
You can't justify to me calling these alchemists scientists. There's no excuse for them randomly assigning iron to Mars cuz warz.
That Ozian (5 days ago)
Well believe me I know, I’ve sunk pretty low, but whatever I’ve done you’ve deserved.
Inclusive Outsider (5 days ago)
I am Slave 23, also known as Theophrastus Bombastus Von Hohenheim or Von Hohenheim. Damn that Dwarf in the Flask Homunculus; he got what he deserved.
Inclusive Outsider (5 days ago)
I am Slave 23, also known as Theophrastus Bombastus Von Hohenheim or Von Hohenheim. Damn that Dwarf in the Flask Homunculus; he got what he deserved.
xtremrvolution (5 days ago)
E dwar doo
Esesem ssm (5 days ago)
This video would have been incomplete without a Fullmetal Alchemist reference
MattoFrank (5 days ago)
GutenbErg invented the printing press. Every child knows this in germany, isn't the name widely recognised in america? Awful mistake.
Afrika Smith (5 days ago)
Skyrim's Alchemy sounds a bit more fun. Now I'm the only one who made a joke that wasn't a FMA joke. I'm so proud of myself.
raisingfalcon (5 days ago)
watching this made me really appreciate the work the writer for FMA. So much subtlety in her writing. Down to the Chinese wanting immortality(ling).
Udbhav Bodapati (5 days ago)
Remove 3 protons then voila lead #82 to gold #79
Michael Gifford (5 days ago)
“The philosopher’s stone is a Universal Solvent” ...to those who have ears let them hear.
blitzwaffe (5 days ago)
"Alchemy. The science of understanding, deconstructing, and reconstructing matter. However, it is not an all powerful art. It is impossible to create something out if nothing. If one wishes to obtain something, something of equal value must be given. This is the law of equivalent exchange, the basis of all alchemy. In accordance with this law, there is a taboo among alchemists. Human transmutation is strictly forbidden. For what can equal the value of a human soul?"
Ivan Manzo (5 days ago)
Sir Isaac Newton was also an alchemist
Peter J Salazar (5 days ago)
I like how Hank apparently left the set halfway through the video to get a haircut, then grew it all back by the end of the video.
Jon Phipps (5 days ago)
Did I miss it or did they not mention the art of mental alchemy?
G doc (5 days ago)
if i watch this whole video and there are no full metal alchemist references i will be distraught
Iron Revenant (5 days ago)
A lot of these comments are referencing FMA:B and I love it!
Bilal Mohamed (5 days ago)
Alchemy is an Arabic word
Keith Makan (5 days ago)
As above so below ;)
Logan Anderson (5 days ago)
And thanks to radioactivity, lead can turn into gold.
Jory Jones (5 days ago)
The Philosopher's Stone was a way better book than the sorcerer's one.
Raymond K Petry (5 days ago)
*_..."chematria" you say—looks almost like 'gematria' assigning numbers to constituents..._*
Jory Jones (5 days ago)
Full Science Alchemist.
Liz Gro (5 days ago)
Hank: says Decknamen Me, a German who did not expect to hear a German word in a video about Alchemy: o:
I'm enjoying this series
Elijah King (5 days ago)
When you're genuinely interested in ancient forgotten knowledge such as alchemy but all the comments are about full metal alchemist
SuicideBunny6 (5 days ago)
HELL YEAHH \m/ De Re Metallica \m/
SuicideBunny6 (5 days ago)
"Humankind can not gain anything, without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is Alchemy's first law of Equivalent Exchange."
Nate Chance (5 days ago)
I’m loving the backdrop right now
Shashwat Gupta (5 days ago)
Please Do A Crash Course Chemistry 2, Covering Topics In Depth
Tanfa (5 days ago)
Smi Co (5 days ago)
GutenbUrg? You didn't just misspell one of the most famous and important persons in history...?
You made some mistakes. Right after you said alchemists encoded their meaning, you said they believed metals were compounds of sulphur and mercury. We know that's not true, so that's probably code. You said the philosopher's stone was also the universal solvent or alkahest. It's more like the alkahest was used in the making of the philosopher's stone.
blue salad (5 days ago)
It's Gutenberg, not Gutenburg.
Bhavin Chandarana (5 days ago)
No even a single FMAB reference :D
mayanpaw (5 days ago)
Nina was definitely there
Gimli, Son of Glóin (5 days ago)
Anybody know of a translated reproduction of one of these old alchemy books with all the crazy illustration? I'd like one as a curio for my coffee table.
Brian Hutzell (5 days ago)
Every time I think of alchemy, I think of one of my favorite children’s books, Eric P. Kelly’s “The Trumpeter of Krakow.” It won the Newbery Medal in 1929. Part of the storyline involves alchemy. BTW, you don’t have to be a child to enjoy this book!
Feynstein 100 (6 days ago)
Although, if fusion becomes possible and economical, we will actually be able to convert lead into gold. Perhaps the alchemists were only about 500 years ahead of their time :P
Ben Senior (6 days ago)
Thank you Dank Hank!
Vaishnavi Mangal (6 days ago)
This is amazing! Thankyou!
well we have fusion so can actually turn lead to gold we just dont
Julie Costa (6 days ago)
How could you! How dare you bring up Nina and her dog! Why would you hurt us so! Also, Full Metal Alchemist really did it's homework with direct references to historical alchemy. Very impressed!
Cythil (6 days ago)
Did not know Alchemy had a bad rep today. I always though of it more a transitional science (or proto science if you wish). Sure. I see a lot of people that do not know what Alchemy is really about. But even these people generally do not scoff at it. Maybe some people view it as just a hopeless endeavor to turn lead in to gold. But I do not find this that common. (Also. Anyone that think that is impossible clearly have not studied nuclear physics enough. )
*trying not to think of fullmetal alchemist*
SaiyanHeretic (6 days ago)
Oh no, the saddest FMA reference...
NoLeads Ent. (6 days ago)
BEFORE AND AFTER WATCHING THIS: prior watching comment: knowing this is not the best place to look beyond consensus and the theory of never becoming facts hehe im hoping to see you reflect on the all chemical process of science, stemming lower than the periodic charts, and perhaps even treat us to the sound chart of frequencies by Walter Russel. the founder of two elements on the table itself :D i won't hold my breath, and ill leave a comment at the end, announcing my ignorance prior to watching, or my intellectual superiority (based on sheer heuristic behaviors) not because im pompous :D begin. DURING COMMENTS: so, starting off, the kings heard of alchemy and made it law that all alchemist must make gold for their kings, or die for devil workings. alchemical studies are allegories and metaphors for hermetic understandings. much deeper than only a physical translation. as you mention later in a failed utilization of explanation. 5 minutes in: all the rundown on the charts, but Why is it named after these metals and astrological bodies? the philosopher stone is within you lol you are the only being that can transfer food into art. etc.. YOU SAID IT YOURSELF AFTER 5 MINUTES. only contradicting your perception of alchemy. smh 10 minutes in: it is mentioned that allegories were to hide the physical understandings when you haven't added in the though, some things are beyond physical matter, and cannot be spoken about in meer comprehensive words. they must be given in parables. not only to keep the truth from the evil who will pervert it for personal gain. physically lol but because to seek you will find. never given from right of passage. im sad to hear fashion involved in this topic, and because those unworthy cannot achieve its treasures, does not mean it is mere gibberish. yet, with this ungrown perception you hold, im happy you think so anyway! that's it folks. ive watched the entire video, and id love a real debate on some of these points I've made. intellect over insults people. lets do this!
Eduardo AC (6 days ago)
Mario U (6 days ago)
I'm just here for all the anime related comments
GlitchKing (6 days ago)
TIL where the weird name of "Von Hohenheim" in FMA came from

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