Engraving of the alchemical universe 1618

Atlas Obscura: How Scholars Cracked a Medieval Alchemist’s Secret Code

Online magazine features Institute fellows Megan Piorko and Sarah Lang, who helped decode a puzzling Latin cipher.

November 15, 2021

Science History Institute fellows Megan Piorko and Sarah Lang are featured in an Atlas Obscura article about a Latin cipher written by 16th- and 17th-century alchemist and physician Arthur Dee. Piorko, who is a second-year Allington Postdoctoral Fellow, and Lang, who is a short-term Herdegen Fellow, contributed to the decryption of what turned out to be the recipe for the legendary Philosophers’ Stone. The pair is currently working on an article about the cipher and its secrets with mathematician and cryptologist Richard Bean. They plan to reach out to chemistry colleagues who also work in the history of alchemy to help them recreate Dee’s recipe for eternal life.

Read more on atlasobscura.com >>

Engraving by Matthaeus Merian the Elder depicts the alchemical universe with the Philosopher’s Stone at its center, 1618. FOTOTECA STORICA NAZIONALE/CONTRIBUTOR/GETTY IMAGES

More News

award medals and plaque
news

MIT Professor Paula Hammond, TIAX Founder Kenan Sahin, and Scripps CEO Peter Schultz to Receive 2024 Science History Institute Awards

Othmer Gold Medal, Bolte Award, and AIC Gold Medal will be presented on May 8 in Philadelphia.

three magazine covers
news

‘Distillations,’ ‘Chemical Heritage’ Magazines Added to Institute’s Digital Collections

Digitized issues of both publications feature OCR technology, allowing users to search for specific content.

smiling women in blue jacket and white shirt
news

ExxonMobil’s Karen McKee Named 2024 Petrochemical Heritage Award Honoree

The prestigious award will be presented by the Science History Institute and the Founders Club on March 25, 2024, during AFPM’s International Petrochemical Conference in San Antonio.

    Republish

    Copy the above HTML to republish this content. We have formatted the material to follow our guidelines, which include our credit requirements. Please review our full list of guidelines for more information. By republishing this content, you agree to our republication requirements.