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The Alchemist’s Tale

Alchemy medieval alembicsMuch of our knowledge, particularly in the sciences, advances by trial and error. In “The Alchemist’s Tale,” by contributing editor Andrew Curry, we learn how thousands of fragments of glass uncovered at the bottom of a medieval stairwell in Germany are now understood to be the remains of an alchemist’s lab. Curry describes both the discovery and the ways in which alchemy, often practiced in secret, was actually an early form of chemistry.