04 July 2010

Alchemical Abduction

An interesting letter in this month's Chemistry World (the Royal Society of Chemistry's trade mag) reproduced below,

"How to attract funding

I was interested in the recent correspondence about alchemy (Chemistry World , May 2010, p40) as I have often wondered whether there was a more mundane explanation for the well reported objectives of its practitioners. Faced with the same problems as modern chemists, I can see two alternative pitches for funding.

'My Lord Duke, would you please support my research work because:

  1. I am doing fundamental scientific work and, as a result, may discover something that will make me famous, and many generations of scientists will remember my name. It may be that I might also stumble on something that could be of advantage to yourself;

  2. I am trying to find a substance which would make you rich beyond imagination, by turning base metal into gold. I may happen to discover a hitherto unknown chemical element, but this would not be the main aim of the work.'

I should be surprised to learn that I am the first person ever to think of this concept.

York, UK

ps a note about the use of the word 'abduction' in the title, here and here.

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