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But it lacks the high degree of corrosivity of metals possessed by the vitriols and chlorides and played a small part in early alchemy. Saltpetre appears particularly in 9th- to 11th-century- ad Indian and Chinese recipes for fireworks, one of which—a mixture of saltpetre, sulfur , and charcoal—is gunpowder. Saltpetre first appears in Europe in the 13th century, along with the modern formula for gunpowder and the recipe for nitric acid. Western alchemy may go back to the beginnings of the Hellenistic period c.

He is one of about 40 authors represented in a compendium of alchemical writings that was probably put together in Byzantium Constantinople in the 7th or 8th century ad and that exists in manuscripts in Venice and Paris. Synesius, the latest author represented, lived in Byzantium in the 4th century. The earliest is the author designated Democritus but identified by scholars with Bolos of Mende, a Hellenized Egyptian who lived in the Nile Delta about bc.

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The recipes are stated obscurely and are justified with references to the Greek theory of elements and to astrological theory. It was the first of a number of such aphorisms over which alchemists were to speculate for many centuries. In a group of ancient papyrus manuscripts written in Greek was purchased in Thebes Egypt , and about a half-century later it was noticed that among them, divided between libraries in Leyden the Netherlands and Stockholm, was a tract very like the Physica et mystica.

The techniques were ancient.

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Democritus is praised by most of the other authors in the Venice—Paris manuscript, and he is much commented upon. But only Zosimos shows what had become of alchemy after Bolos of Mende. Thus, the colour-producing potentialities of chemistry were considerable by the time of Zosimos. Zosimos also shows that alchemical theory came to focus on the idea that there exists a substance that can bring about the desired transformation instantly, magically, or, as a modern chemist might say, catalytically.

Zosimos notes the possibility, in passing.

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When the objective of alchemy became human salvation, the material constitution of the elixir became less important than the incantations that accompanied its production. Synesius, the last author in the Venice—Paris manuscript, already defined alchemy as a mental operation, independent of the science of matter. Thus, Greek alchemy came to resemble, in both theory and practice, that of China and India.

But its objectives included gold making; thus it remained fundamentally different. You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

Best Sci-Fi Book Series With World-Building Focus

Article Media. Pick one of these series if you are looking to escape the real world for a bit. One of the worlds is more traditional sci-fi while the other one incorporates more elements of fantasy.


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This series is part of the overarching Commonwealth Saga and is recommended for current or new fans of Hamilton. People are not distinguished by gender, and everyone is refreshingly referred to using female personal pronouns. The trilogy follows Breq, a starship fragment now in the body of a soldier.


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  4. The Hyperion Cantos follows the struggle of some key characters whose paths are intertwined across great parts of space and time. The several worlds visited in this series seemed extra vivid to me compared to other series.

    13 Books to Read If You Love ‘The Alchemist’

    Even though this is a world-building pick, the plot is excellent in this series! One of the great parts of sci-fi is that you can choose to explore aspects of society of people in more depth simply by changing the technology available or the challenges they face. Ursula K.

    Le Guin challenges societal assumptions and expectations in the Hainish Cycle. Humans are the result of colonies started by Hain a long time ago, and differ dramatically due to genetic engineering and divergent evolution once travel between the colonies ended. Note that each book can be read on its own. Wool , Dust , Shift.

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    This post-apocalyptic series explores the darker parts of human society from the perspective of Juliette, a newly elected sheriff of a society that lives in a large, underground silo. I appreciated the development of different characters and asking myself how I would act in various tough scenarios. Perfect for the reader who wants to explore themselves, in addition to behavior on the societal level. Humans live in Comms, or communities, that must keep the skills of their members balanced.

    The key to surviving and minimizing the fifth seasons may be orogenes, who have the power to control energy in the Earth. However, orogenes are mercilessly hunted by Comms or exploited by the Fulcrum. The nuanced relationships between the character in addition to the beautifully described power of the orogenes makes for a hard to put down read. Murderbot is a security unit that has hacked its own governor module and now spends its free time marathoning any and all forms of entertainment.

    Adorably awkward, Murderbot realizes it must wants? Therefore, Arrakis is a key planet for a noble house to occupy in the feudal interstellar society.

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    This is a Society and People read because politics, religion, ecology, technology, and emotions are all explored in depth. This is a very dialogue-based sci-fi series.