JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Alchemist. Artwork of a 17th century alchemist creating life during research into the philosoph- er's stone. A human embryo or homunculus has been created in a flash of light from a topaz crystal. The philosopher's stone was a supposed material thought to have miraculous powers. It was believed that it could turn base metals into gold, heal the sick, restore youth and even create life. Much time and effort was wasted by alchemists trying to create this imaginary substance. However, many chemical techniques were discovered during the research. A homunculus was a tiny version of the adult form from which it was thought people developed. Image from 1911.
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