Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Alchemy in reverse?

I've spent so much time studying alchemy for my History of Depth Psychology class that I was surprised to find this notice on Nature about an experiment performed at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory: Charged gold atoms were accelerated to close to the speed of light and then smashed together. What was expected was a quark-gluon plasma in gas form; something that would mimic the material that filled the Universe in the first microseconds after the Big Bang.

The surprise is that the plasma turned out to be a liquid -- an intensely hot (150,000 times hotter than our sun) yet perfectly uniform liquid, a prima materia if you will. Prima materia is the alchemist's starting material in the physical quest for transmutional chemistry (the creation of gold from base metals). It seems as if the collider experiment is an alchemical reaction in reverse..... weird.

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