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Alchemy on the Cutting Edge: Theoretical Innovations and the Pursuit of Transmutation

Join us on Thursday, December 11, 2014 for a free lecture featuring Lawrence M. Principe, Drew Professor of the Humanities, Department of the History of Science and Technology, John Hopkins University.

Alchemy on the Cutting Edge:  Theoretical Innovations and the Pursuit of Transmutation

Warner Bros. Theater
National Museum of American History
14th & Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001

Thursday, December 11, 2014
5:00 p.m.

with reception to follow

Please RSVP at 202-633-7263 or

Dibner lecture image
Athanasius Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus (1665). Digitally colored by Richard Naples.

It is widely believed that chemistry and alchemy parted company around the end of the 17th century. Chemistry became a modern science, alchemy withered away as a false pursuit. The historical reality is, however, very different. The separation of transmutational pursuits from “acceptable” chemistry was complex, having little to do with scientific developments. Recent archival discoveries show that prominent chemists continued to pursue transmutation until at least the 1760s. Even in the 19th century, new chemical ideas sparked more than one reconciliation between alchemy and chemistry. This lecture explores the resilience of transmutational aspirations and their adaptability to new chemical theories.


  1. Hello
    I can’t be present but I would like very much to have the printed version of this lecture, video? mp4, etc… just to listen Lawrence M. Principe’s lecture. Would that be possible?

    • Hello Abilio! Thank you for your interest in our event. We will be recording the lecture and plan to host it on our site after the event. We’ll let you know when it’s available!

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