The Seventh Tower Laboratory
The Discovery of Phosphorus, Joseph Wright (1734-1797.)
In 1669, Hennig Brand discovered elemental phosphorus by
distilling urine. Click here to learn more about this discovery.
Then click on image to read about the artist and his works.
We live in a society so thoroughly transformed and influenced by chemistry that most people take this subject completely for granted. And yet all the food we eat, the medicines we take, the clothes we wear and the homes we live in are the end results of synthetic production processes that involve laboratory controlled chemical transformations at almost every step. The luxuriant life styles indulged in by most people in America today would largely be impossible without chemistry. Holistic medicine advocates who criticize the use of synthetic substances should remember that the average life spans of their ancestors were roughly half of what people living today can expect. We owe our improved health and longer lives to medical and sanitary advances made possible by discoveries in the laboratory.
The roots of modern chemistry reach far back in time to the days when metallurgical processes, like smelting ores and mixing copper and tin to make bronze, possessed a religious significance. Even the fermentation of sugar-bearing fruits and vegetables, one of the earliest chemical changes to be utilized by civilized societies, acquired a supernatural aura and was attributed to the gods. Later, in the late Middle Ages, many important discoveries were made by alchemists in search of the mystical Philosophers Stone and Elixir of Life. Modern chemists, who laugh at such things, forget that many standard laboratory processes like distillation, sublimation and crystallization, as well as basic glassware items, were discovered, invented or refined by alchemists in pursuit of spiritual ideals.
At The Seventh Tower, our laboratory is dedicated to presenting chemistry as a science of amazing transformations, similar in its results, if not its methods, to magic! Anyone who fails to recognize the amazing nature of chemistry should take a moment to examine its cutting-edge applications in the world of psychiatric medicine. For people whose lives have been distorted and maimed by mental illness, recent advances in the pharmacological treatment of disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolarity have indeed produced miraculous changes. In The Seventh Tower Laboratory, you will find links to essays, safety tips, supply sources and experiments that will hopefully awaken and enhance your appreciation of chemistry.
See where it all began!
The Alchemy Website
Learn more about the history of chemistry!
From the Woodrow Wilson Summer Institute
More History of Chemistry!
compiled by Carmen Giunta
Background photo by Maarten Huizinga, showing his own laboratory equipment.
Photo used with Mr. Huizinga's kind permission. Visit his website here.