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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    confused Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    I actually watch an episode of the Cartoon Network The Fantastic Four of an evil alchemist named Diablo used the four elements of fire, water, air, and earth. Mr. Fantastic say that alchemy isn't science, it's just made-up magic. Which makes me wonder is alchemy consider to be scientific?
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Scientific alchemy is called chemistry.

    The rest, like the classical four elements has been scientifically debunked.
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    the Vector Legion [is the IFCC's new pawns], mark my words. Way too much unfinished business there and they already know about the Gates.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    Scientific alchemy is called chemistry.

    The rest, like the classical four elements, has been scientifically debunked.
    Ok. Thank you for explaining that to me.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bartmanhomer View Post
    I actually watch an episode of the Cartoon Network The Fantastic Four of an evil alchemist named Diablo used the four elements of fire, water, air, and earth. Mr. Fantastic say that alchemy isn't science, it's just made-up magic. Which makes me wonder is alchemy consider to be scientific?
    Needs a mechanism to work. Effects that can be repeated and tested. The anime series Full Metal Alchemist treats alchemy as a science. And oddly so does the SCP Foundation.
    Last edited by HandofShadows; 2020-08-09 at 02:09 PM.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    European alchemy is mostly a philosophy that did some chemistry on the sides. But they were far more concerned with enlightenment and the human soul than any materials.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by HandofShadows View Post
    Needs a mechanism to work. Effects that can be repeated and tested. The anime series Full Metal Alchemist treats alchemy as a science. And oddly so does the SCP Foundation.
    Is the SCP Foundation even real?
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bartmanhomer View Post
    Is the SCP Foundation even real?
    No, it’s a huge creepypasta. It’s a whole lotta fun but it is not real. Take their word for it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    the Vector Legion [is the IFCC's new pawns], mark my words. Way too much unfinished business there and they already know about the Gates.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    The key aspect of science is that you try things out by doing experiment, make observations and take measurements, analyse your data to draw conclusion and make predictions, and then do further experiments to see if your predicted results actually happen.
    To my knowledge, alchemists did not really do that.

    I've seen the claim that metalworkers actually did a lot more to further the knowledge of chemistry by trying to create better alloys and smelting processes than alchemists ever did, though I don't know the basis for that claim.
    But unlike alchemists, metalworkers actually got real results and produced useful substances.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    No, it’s a huge creepypasta. It’s a whole lotta fun but it is not real. Take their word for it.
    Oh ok. Also thank you for telling me it's fake.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    The key aspect of science is that you try things out by doing experiment, make observations and take measurements, analyse your data to draw conclusion and make predictions, and then do further experiments to see if your predicted results actually happen.
    To my knowledge, alchemists did not really do that.
    There might have been a point where alchemists were starting off from accepted knowledge and not-yet-disproved assumptions and testing them in a scientific way. However, alchemy as a field persisted well after chemistry became understood well enough to force them to reevaluate their conclusions, which to my knowledge they never did.

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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    To me, Rutherford would be justified in calling alchemy 'stamp collecting' but not chemistry. Alchemy strikes me as random tinkering and unsupported natural philosophy slapped onto it, making it unscientific. Whereas chemistry attempts to create wacky models then see if the experiments debunk them, making it scientific.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    It's 400 year old plus chemistry. As such the disciplines have changed a lot
    (even just in the last century (or maybe 2) biology, chemistry and physics have completely changed how they play together)

    Hence...
    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    European alchemy is mostly a philosophy that did some chemistry on the sides. But they were far more concerned with enlightenment and the human soul than any materials.
    Modern chemistry is written to take into account the results of experiments they did.
    So while in a sense it is 'scientific', the predictions and theories are very incorrect by even early modern standards.
    From the point of view of curiosity it's well worth a historian, philosopher and chemist working together to work out what they actually did in any given writing and translate it into modern terms (and then use it as evidence for a 'history of chemistry'). Even compared to starting from scratch or guessing at random you'd be in a lot better position, though if you had the option of asking a modern inattentive 13 year old, I'd consider betting on the 13 year old.

    __
    Now to change tack and look at the actual example.

    If Diablo is actually somehow using the elements Fire/water/Air/Earth to create a "magical" shield successfully, then, in film, modern chemistry has somehow made a massive blunder and Captain Fantastic is being rather stupid (assuming this isn't the first time it's happened).
    If Diablo is using alchemical sources to do a normal chemical reaction (say to make Aqua Regia), then in that sense it's scientific but he'd be so much better off just looking up how to make (or buy) Nitric Acid. Both people are equally right and wrong.
    If Diablo is somehow mistaken/tricked into thinking he is doing something beyond chemistry via alchemy, then Captain Fantastic is quite right.

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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    "I mean, fire shouldn't even count. It's a chemical reaction."

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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drakeburn View Post
    "I mean, fire shouldn't even count. It's a chemical reaction."
    *cough*

    Yeah, alchemy was a mixture of science and magic. It was early attempts to understand how the world and its components worked and how to manipulate it. But they were basically starting from "God did it" levels of knowledge so a lot was observation and mysticism. Hence the conclusions reached in the video I linked. These are, by any reasonable observation, NOT terrible conclusions. They are wrong yes, but made logical sense based on observations made.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    *cough*

    Yeah, alchemy was a mixture of science and magic. It was early attempts to understand how the world and its components worked and how to manipulate it. But they were basically starting from "God did it" levels of knowledge so a lot was observation and mysticism. Hence the conclusions reached in the video I linked. These are, by any reasonable observation, NOT terrible conclusions. They are wrong yes, but made logical sense based on observations made.
    Listening to the lesson, I came away with the strong impression that they would make a bit more sense we consider Fire to be more associated with available Energy, Earth with Mass, Air with Volume (rather than solely trying to match them with specific atoms), I'm not sure what Water would be.

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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by jayem View Post
    Listening to the lesson, I came away with the strong impression that they would make a bit more sense we consider Fire to be more associated with available Energy, Earth with Mass, Air with Volume (rather than solely trying to match them with specific atoms), I'm not sure what Water would be.
    Exactly. They dont have those terms or the understanding of the subtle difference between them. They can only compare it to what they already know about. Fire earth water and sky. They know that rocks/the ground are solid and heavy, therefore everything has a bit of earth in it to account for its heft instead of mass. They know its possible to burn most things or "release the fire within" So they describe it as containing fire instead of potential energy. Their answers arent that far off from reality, they just lack the frame of reference and the extra centuries of study to hone the elemental makeup of everything into a more accurate form. They are wrong, but they are logical about it. And until it can be proven wrong and an alternate theory that better fits the scenario is created, thats what they stuck with. Obviously the link isnt describing alchemy, but its describing things in a similar fashion if what I remember is true.
    "Interdum feror cupidine partium magnarum Europae vincendarum"
    Translation: "Sometimes I get this urge to conquer large parts of Europe."

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerd-o-rama View Post
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by jayem View Post
    Listening to the lesson, I came away with the strong impression that they would make a bit more sense we consider Fire to be more associated with available Energy, Earth with Mass, Air with Volume (rather than solely trying to match them with specific atoms), I'm not sure what Water would be.
    Can water be lifeforce in this? Seems to work- the wood is dead so doesn't have water yet humans are 80% water.

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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by jayem View Post
    Listening to the lesson, I came away with the strong impression that they would make a bit more sense we consider Fire to be more associated with available Energy, Earth with Mass, Air with Volume (rather than solely trying to match them with specific atoms), I'm not sure what Water would be.
    I always thought they were just ye olde ways of saying Liquid, Solid, Gaseous and Plasma.
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    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    I always thought they were just ye olde ways of saying Liquid, Solid, Gaseous and Plasma.
    Liquid, Solid, Gaseous, and Chemical Reaction may be more accurate. It's not like they had any idea what plasma was; it wasn't even really described until a hundred years ago.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Twodoku View Post
    Can water be lifeforce in this? Seems to work- the wood is dead so doesn't have water yet humans are 80% water.
    Lifeforce isn't a real thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    the Vector Legion [is the IFCC's new pawns], mark my words. Way too much unfinished business there and they already know about the Gates.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Yes, but it was considered one in chemistry too, for far too long. It even lives on in the distinction of organic and anorganic chemistry: originally, the two were considered completely different, because one dealt with substances that have vis vitalis, life force. There were serious defenders of vitalism until the 19th century (the synthesis of urea from anorganic substances kind of put an end to it for serious chemists) and some have been arguing it at least the 1950s.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Liquid, Solid, Gaseous, and Chemical Reaction may be more accurate. It's not like they had any idea what plasma was; it wasn't even really described until a hundred years ago.
    That seems fairly obviously relation, although (going back to the Star Trek example) the air in the wood wasn't (yet) obviously gaseous.

    The boundary between elements, molecular-subgroups and states of matter was probably hard to distinguish. The correlation is strong enough for the exceptions to be mistakes or special cases (wood clearly contains the 'gassy compound'*, and could contain it in the gassy state).

    I suspect in any case, it's not going to map neatly. Trying to think/describe something that is 'fire' in the wood but that doesn't provide it's 'fireness' probably wouldn't get you very far (oh you're clearly talking about it's 'water').


    * Hypothesis, therefore it needs the gassy compound to grow, Prediction, therefore if you deprive it of air it will die, Experiment... Conclusion/Excuse.
    ___
    Some kind of 'lifeforce' could work. It is incorrect science after all.
    Although air (breath) &fire also have the claims to that, and it doesn't work too well for the sea.
    (also I partially proposed this based on an episode of star-trek)

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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bartmanhomer View Post
    Which makes me wonder is alchemy consider to be scientific?
    No. Not even a little bit.

    I will now read rest of thread see what other's have said.

    I think you all are giving alchemy way too much credit here. Also, it really does feel like trying to map our world onto theirs. I.e. it's not just that they just didn't have the words to describe doing modern chemistry? Psh. They were not doing anything that would map onto our modern world. The mystical aspects were fundamental and it wasn't about trying to figure out what elements did or did not do. Alchemy is interested in the conditions of human nature. It's applied philosophy one could say.

    Alchemy fundamentally has a philosophical and mystical bent to it that precludes it from being science.

    That said, it should be noted alchemy is a veeeery broad spectrum of things. It includes the idealistic, the greedy and the charlatan trying to make gold, those who were mostly into the philosophical and mystical thinking, and tinkerers doing actual real world chemistry for fun or profit. And all kinds of others, so basically almost anything can be said about alchemy.

    I wouldn't say the path from alchemy to chemistry is exactly linear either, frankly I don't think there's any case of an alchemist that actually becomes a chemist per se. That alchemy strongly influenced chemistry by discovering things that chemistry later explained is one thing. But just as traditional Chinese medicine sometimes stumbled on things that worked it wasn't a precursor to medicine either. Somewhere in the break between 1700-1800s we get the beginnings of modern chemistry and I'm kinda sure they didn't get started by reading old alchemical books. The concept that reactions happen and basically all the tools come from alchemy though. Just as it's difficult to do modern medicine if you believe in Galen it's hard to do chemistry if you cling to alchemy.
    Last edited by snowblizz; 2020-08-10 at 04:07 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    I think you all are giving alchemy way too much credit here. Also, it really does feel like trying to map our world onto theirs. I.e. it's not just that they just didn't have the words to describe doing modern chemistry? Psh. They were not doing anything that would map onto our modern world.
    That's kind of where I'm going with thinking it's a mistake to think that the ancient elements should be looked at purely as being a failed attempt to list the modern elements. It's partially true, but it's also mixed in with failed attempt to do other things which they wouldn't have recognised as being separate.

    Alchemy fundamentally has a philosophical and mystical bent to it.
    Including, to a very large extent, of course this. If your experiment shows something that goes up to the heaven's, of course you're going to use look to implications and explainations to philospophy.
    There's no doubt that we'd look at their reasons for trying something, look at what they did and look at their conclusions with horror. But at the same time they are clearly hypotheses, experimented on and concluded on, and eventually leading to recognition that "Sulpher" couldn't fit.

    Note Laviouser, still has Light, Heat and Clay as modern day elements, and apart from having the right names for the compounds, we get Carbonic Gas and Alcohol from it, so therefore grape juice must be Carbonic and Alcohol isn't that disimilar from the teachers lesson in Star-Trek

    But at the same time three of Razi's book's have "Experiment" in the title, and on what we'd now call chemicals. And similarly the medievel ones trying to find how to transmute metals did try stuff,
    Sendivogius didn't discover the "life giving substance contained in air" by chance (and if you want to count him on the chemists side, he also promoted Dee&Kelly on the very charlatan side of things)


    That said, it should be noted alchemy is a veeeery broad spectrum of things. It includes the idealistic, the greedy and the charlatan trying to make gold, those who were mostly into the philosophical and mystical thinking, and tinkerers doing actual real world chemistry for fun or profit. And all kinds of others, so basically almost anything can be said about alchemy.
    I think that's part of it, there are dodgy charlatan's piggy-backing off the radium craze, and all the modern day equivalents of the elixir of eternal youth. But we either don't accept their word to be 'chemists', or we haven't caught them out yet. For that matter we give a pass to Boyle's attempts to make gold (to the point of getting the law changed to make it legal), because he also did good chemistry.
    Whereas because the 13th century good experimenter was wrong (/out of date) enough to be effectively useless, he gets lumped with the charlatan from the start.
    Part of that of course was also a deliberate, worthy and successful effort to make a break between the modern chemist and the charlatan.


    Spoiler: A hypothetical follow on scene to the star-trek (if you can make it funnier or otherwise improve it, feel free, if you want to make the teacher just get it or willful do your own
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    Data: None the less, I am sure fire is not an element
    ... (after class is dismissed
    Teacher: Could it be that you were the student of a disciple of Thales?
    Data: I do not know
    Teacher: He taught that all things were made of water.
    Teacher: So is fire made of water?
    Data: I do not think fire is made of water
    Teacher: So air then
    Data: I do not think fire is made of anything else
    Teacher: But then surely, you do think fire is an element?
    Data: I do not think fire is an element
    Teacher: But I do not understand. If fire is not an element, then it must be made of something?
    Data: I do not think fire is made of anything
    Teacher: But then it would be an element?
    Data: I think it's a chemical reaction
    Teacher: But it is clearly something, most of the fire is now gone, but I touch it and there is clearly something there, is that not fire?
    Data:
    Teacher: So is this chemical reaction made of something or something in it's own right?
    Data: It's it's own kind of thing
    Teacher: Ah, so it is an element after all?
    Data: ouch, my palm hit my face at greater than expected velocity.



    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    Double cough with Data on the other side and learning that ...
    Fire is
    Last edited by jayem; 2020-08-10 at 04:10 PM.

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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Alchemy is kind of a broad term, since it changed meanings repeatedly over the centuries. Part of what they did was trying to establish the active principles in medicinal herbs, which eventually led much later to pharmacology, for example. The primary influence from alchemy is that it eventually rejected the phenomenal approach to the natural world in favor of there being an underlying system, which Linnaeus used to create the taxon system for biological classification of species. They also accidentally created a model of sub-atomic particles (quicksilver, white sulphur, yellow sulphur) that is at least analogous to electrons, neutrons and protons.

    So it's probably best to say generally wrong, but right in details often enough to give one pause.

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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogar Demonblud View Post
    Alchemy is kind of a broad term, since it changed meanings repeatedly over the centuries. Part of what they did was trying to establish the active principles in medicinal herbs, which eventually led much later to pharmacology, for example. The primary influence from alchemy is that it eventually rejected the phenomenal approach to the natural world in favor of there being an underlying system, which Linnaeus used to create the taxon system for biological classification of species. They also accidentally created a model of sub-atomic particles (quicksilver, white sulphur, yellow sulphur) that is at least analogous to electrons, neutrons and protons.

    So it's probably best to say generally wrong, but right in details often enough to give one pause.
    Also, they were totally right in that you can turn lead into gold. They just grossly underestimated how hard it is to rip three protons off each atom.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    And three electrons, and probably a few neutrons as well.

    I've often wondered if the Trek writers had alchemical transformation in mind when they created replicators. Breaking something down into subatomic particles and then reassembling in a new pattern.

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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogar Demonblud View Post
    And three electrons, and probably a few neutrons as well.

    I've often wondered if the Trek writers had alchemical transformation in mind when they created replicators. Breaking something down into subatomic particles and then reassembling in a new pattern.
    Eh, the electrons are easy and the neutrons don't matter.
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    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    Quote Originally Posted by jayem View Post
    That's kind of where I'm going with thinking it's a mistake to think that the ancient elements should be looked at purely as being a failed attempt to list the modern elements. It's partially true, but it's also mixed in with failed attempt to do other things which they wouldn't have recognised as being separate.


    Including, to a very large extent, of course this. If your experiment shows something that goes up to the heaven's, of course you're going to use look to implications and explainations to philospophy.
    There's no doubt that we'd look at their reasons for trying something, look at what they did and look at their conclusions with horror. But at the same time they are clearly hypotheses, experimented on and concluded on, and eventually leading to recognition that "Sulpher" couldn't fit.

    Note Laviouser, still has Light, Heat and Clay as modern day elements, and apart from having the right names for the compounds, we get Carbonic Gas and Alcohol from it, so therefore grape juice must be Carbonic and Alcohol isn't that disimilar from the teachers lesson in Star-Trek

    But at the same time three of Razi's book's have "Experiment" in the title, and on what we'd now call chemicals. And similarly the medievel ones trying to find how to transmute metals did try stuff,
    Sendivogius didn't discover the "life giving substance contained in air" by chance (and if you want to count him on the chemists side, he also promoted Dee&Kelly on the very charlatan side of things)



    I think that's part of it, there are dodgy charlatan's piggy-backing off the radium craze, and all the modern day equivalents of the elixir of eternal youth. But we either don't accept their word to be 'chemists', or we haven't caught them out yet. For that matter we give a pass to Boyle's attempts to make gold (to the point of getting the law changed to make it legal), because he also did good chemistry.
    Whereas because the 13th century good experimenter was wrong (/out of date) enough to be effectively useless, he gets lumped with the charlatan from the start.
    Part of that of course was also a deliberate, worthy and successful effort to make a break between the modern chemist and the charlatan.


    Spoiler: A hypothetical follow on scene to the star-trek (if you can make it funnier or otherwise improve it, feel free, if you want to make the teacher just get it or willful do your own
    Show



    Data: None the less, I am sure fire is not an element
    ... (after class is dismissed
    Teacher: Could it be that you were the student of a disciple of Thales?
    Data: I do not know
    Teacher: He taught that all things were made of water.
    Teacher: So is fire made of water?
    Data: I do not think fire is made of water
    Teacher: So air then
    Data: I do not think fire is made of anything else
    Teacher: But then surely, you do think fire is an element?
    Data: I do not think fire is an element
    Teacher: But I do not understand. If fire is not an element, then it must be made of something?
    Data: I do not think fire is made of anything
    Teacher: But then it would be an element?
    Data: I think it's a chemical reaction
    Teacher: But it is clearly something, most of the fire is now gone, but I touch it and there is clearly something there, is that not fire?
    Data:
    Teacher: So is this chemical reaction made of something or something in it's own right?
    Data: It's it's own kind of thing
    Teacher: Ah, so it is an element after all?
    Data: ouch, my palm hit my face at greater than expected velocity.




    Double cough with Data on the other side and learning that ...
    Fire is
    What would make a good Star Trek episode?
    It's time to get my Magikarp on!

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: Is Alchemy Consider To Be Scientific?

    For my money? Actually using the technology intelligently. Half of which are transporter tricks. If you can restore somebody to a previously scanned state, you no longer need medical (put everyone together without injuries, diseases, etc). Oh, and everyone is 21 forever.

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