Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The failed experiment of alchemist James Price

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
1782 James Price, a Guildford, England, chemist, began an experiment (concluded on May 25) to turn various elements and chemicals into gold. He presented some of his supposed gold to King George III, and was awarded the degree of MD by Oxford University.

Sir Joseph Banks (the botanist famed for his work in Australia with Captain James Cook) and suspicious members of the Royal Society asked him to repeat his experiments publicly. For this purpose he left London, in January 1783, for his laboratory at Guildford, faithfully promising to return in a month, and confound and convince all his opponents. Eight months passed, and on August 3, 1783, Price called a meeting of Royal Society members at his home, but only three very dubious RS members showed – and Price drank prussic acid in front of them, falling dead. It may be seen to mark the death of traditional alchemy in England ...

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