The Conversation: Deciphering the Philosophers’ Stone

Institute fellows Megan Piorko and Sarah Lang help crack a 400-year-old alchemical cipher.

October 14, 2021

The work of Science History Institute fellows Megan Piorko and Sarah Lang is featured in an article in The Conversation, a nonprofit news network that publishes stories written by academic experts and researchers. The article talks about how Piorko (a second-year Allington Postdoctoral Fellow) and Lang (a short-term Herdegen Fellow) contributed to the decryption of a 400-year-old cipher written by alchemists John Dee and his son, Arthur Dee. As suspected, the ciphertext contained an alchemical recipe for the fabled philosophers’ stone, an elixir that is supposed to prolong the owner’s life and grant the ability to produce gold from base metals.

Read more on theconversation.com >>

Alchemical emblem in Sloane MS 1876 f1v. © British Library Board, Author provided (no reuse).

More News

people gathered outside at a festival
news

Color History, Dyeing Demos, Cyanotype Printing Draw Record-Setting Crowd at Institute’s 2nd Annual Curious Histories Fest

Science lovers of all ages explore every shade of the rainbow at ‘Color Your World’ celebration.

news

Science History Institute Launches ‘Voices of Science’ Oral History Video Project

Hear the stories of five scientists who faced personal, professional, and social challenges in their careers.

illustration of overlapping colors
news

Science History Institute Launches New Season of ‘Distillations’ Podcast

Weekly episodes explore surprising stories about color, drug treatments, psychiatry, and more starting June 4.

    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.