Life itself can easily be considered one of the greatest mysteries. No one knows exactly how it works, and certainly no one knows how to create it. Or do they know?
In 1837, a little-known scientist named Andrew Cross created life in his personal laboratory. Although it happened entirely by accident, Andrew carefully documented his actions, and several members of the London Electric Society were able to repeat the incident, including the famous Michael Faraday.
Of course, such a discovery was supposed to turn the world upside down and make a person an instant hero? Although the whole world really paid attention to him, and Andrew was included in the Dictionary of National Biography, he was far from a hero.
In fact, Andrew has become one of the most hated people in England, and this notoriety will soon ruin him.
Who was Andrew Cross?
Andrew Cross (June 17, 1784 - July 6, 1855) was a British scientist who was born in Fine Court, Brumfield, Somerset. Cross was one of the earliest pioneers and experimenters in the use of electricity.
It is well known that Cross lectured in England in the early 1800s on topics related to his electrical experiments. Moreover, oddly enough, there is a strong likelihood that Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, attended one of Cross's lectures.
It is possible that during this particular lecture, Andrew Cross has already managed to create life, or at least come close to it. But it wasn't until 1837 that the world would be overwhelmed by Cross's success.
In the course of electrical experiments, Cross tried to create glass crystals. He made glass from crushed flint and potassium carbonate and dissolved it in hydrochloric acid. His idea was to let this liquid dry by gradually passing it through a piece of porous rock that was "electrified" by the battery and see if crystals formed.
No crystals formed, but Cross noticed a curious side effect. On the porous stone, he noticed many small white lumps. Then he decided to continue the experiment.
After a week, he noticed that outgrowths that looked like limbs were growing out of the white lumps. Later, he was able to determine that these were legs. After four weeks, the creatures could easily be seen under a magnifying glass as they moved.
They turned out to be small insect-like creatures. Thinking that perhaps insect eggs had contaminated his controlled experiment, he decided to try again, this time carefully controlling the influence of external variables.
This time, Cross used airtight containers. All components were pre-sterilized with hot alcohol. The electrical wire entered the sealed container through a glass stopper.
The glass was made at a temperature that allowed the iron to be melted, and distilled water was used to mix the composition of ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate and copper nitrate.
Finally, the battery was connected and the slow process began. A few months later, Cross again noticed insect-like creatures crawling inside the controlled environment. Then he was sure that he had really created life.
Enthusiastic about his discovery, he immediately documented the results and quickly dispatched them to the Electric Society of London. Other engineers repeated the experiment with similar success. Soon the whole world learned about Cross's experiments, and his personal hell began …
Some stated that since the solution was non-sterile, eggs of common mites could have entered the solution.Then Cross conducted control experiments with a sealed sterilized flask and a solution in distilled water, and the wires leading into the solution were calcined and passed through a container with mercury. The minerals that pass the current were boiled and treated with acid.
Finally, in order to exclude the appearance of mites from the pores of mineral rocks, where eggs could survive, he conducted several experiments on growing mites in one solution, without minerals. And in these cases, the creatures appeared only at the very edge of the liquid.
Once, mites appeared even on the lower part of quartz, immersed five centimeters in a solution of acid and silicon fluoride. After making sure that it was impossible to get ordinary household ticks into the flask, the scientist sent an open letter describing the experiments to the journal "Proceedings of the London Society for the Study of Electricity." The letter also included the conclusion of the zoologist and a sketch of how the insects looked under the microscope.
Cross's experiments were successfully repeated by another researcher, Henry Wick. Wick took even more precautions to ensure sterility: he ignited the flask, used distilled water and chemically produced oxygen instead of atmospheric air, and treated the constituents of the solution with flame and boiling. Wick found that the number of insects depends on the amount of carbon in the solution.
Clergymen and others throughout Europe were shocked by this blasphemous atrocity. People closed their doors in front of his face. The merchants refused to serve him, and the local church gathered at his doorstep to perform the rite of exorcism of the demonic beast.
Cross tried to explain that he "was in humble and low respect for this Great Being," but the world refused to listen to him. He became an outcast and quickly disappeared from the public eye.
The great Michael Faraday defended Cross in front of the Royal Institution and claimed that he himself was able to repeat the experiment and create strange creatures. All this was to no avail.
Cross died 18 years later, a lonely and unhappy man.
What do we know today
The exact details required to conduct the experiment are unclear these days, but it is generally accepted that several people have succeeded in repeating Cross's experiment. It is also known that many others have failed …
Those who succeeded described the creatures as tiny "mites" and even suggested that the new species be named Acari Crossii. The ill-wishers insisted that some kind of infection had occurred, and the creatures must have been some kind of ordinary insects.
Time, as is often the case, has hidden the exact method required for this experiment to be successful. Thus, we will never know how and why these creatures were created and whether they were created at all.
But is it possible that Cross stumbled upon the primordial soup that evolutionists believed was necessary to create the world's first life form …
The 20th century German physiologist Wilhelm Reich coined the term orgone, an all-pervading life force other than electricity and magnetism, which is concentrated in living and even non-living objects. He argued that this energy can be observed under a microscope as a bluish glow around blood cells and other living substances and believed that it permeates not only the planetary atmosphere, but all of outer space. (The idea, if you think about it, is not that far from the "secret fire" of alchemists).
In the 1940s, Reich discovered that if organic (hay, wood) and even inorganic matter - for example, sea sand - were exposed to intense fire - completely burned to ash, or ignited on an open flame of a burner, and then filled with water and leave in sterile conditions, then after a day or more, microscopic bubbles appear in a huge amount in the solution, hollow inside and surrounded by a thick membrane.
Inside the bubbles, Reich, through a special microscope with 3000x magnification, observed that very bluish glow - the energy he called orgone. Individual bubbles moved actively and showed a tendency to combine with each other into conglomerates.
Reich called these bubbles bions - from the Greek word for "life", considering it an intermediate stage between inanimate and living nature. The ability of bions to self-organize allowed them to form proto-biological structures, which Reich called pseudo-amoebas, artificial cells, microbiodes, liquid crystals, etc.
Reich photomicrograph of "liquid crystals" of bions
There is an assumption that it is precisely this kind of structures that were involved in the experiments of alchemists, who also conducted primary matter through the action of fire. Fixing on the material carrier - the primary matter from the mineral kingdom - the bionic structures gave impetus to transmutation - the transformation of an ordinary metal, with a simpler crystal lattice, into a precious metal, the most perfect.
This still from a modern video captured with an 800x microscope by followers of Reich's methods shows a bionic structure that splits in two in a process much like cell division.
The sterile conditions in which the experiments were carried out, with exposure to temperatures above 1400 ° C, excluded the possibility that we were talking about protozoa and spores that penetrated from the air. Reich believed that he was able to create in laboratory conditions from organic matter an intermediate natural organization that had some properties of living organisms. Together with co-author Otto Hahn, Reich published his results in a scientific journal in a 1938 article.
Of course, Reich was ostracized as a pseudoscientist, obscurantist, charlatan and further down the list, but … bions do appear. This is the case when it is enough to see once than read a hundred times: here are the footage taken by a follower of Reich's ideas already in our time.
In 2001, Venezuelan neuroscientist Dr. Ignacio Pacheco replicated Reich's experiments using ordinary sea sand from an ecologically clean place - Mochima National Park in Venezuela. After igniting the sand on the fire of a burner, he placed it in a test tube with sterile distilled water. The hermetically sealed tube was left for an hour to cool the mixture, after which Pacheco placed it in an autoclave, where he subjected it to sterilization twice under high temperature and pressure, with a break for a day.
After this treatment, none of the known life forms could survive in vitro. However, on the fifth day, a cloudy suspension appeared on the surface of the water, consisting of the smallest particles of sand, salts and organic residues present in the sea sand. Pacheco called the suspension the scientific word supernatant
… Pacheco began to examine it under a microscope, hoping to see Reich's bions, but discovered something more surprising - living things in various stages of formation were present in the suspension.
Their photographs were published by Pacheco in an article entitled Ultrastructural and Light Microscopy Analysis of SAPA BIONS Formation and Growth In-vitro (2001):
This is perhaps the most amazing thing Pachek found in a test tube - a free-roaming multicellular creature, with a head and spiny processes for protection.
The other two, rather fleshy, life forms
Pacheco called this unusual biological form "microgorgonia" because it resembled a microscopic version of the gorgonian coral or "fan of Venus."
An interesting point: in the control tubes with sand that had not been pre-calcined, as is evident from this photograph, no traces of life were found after sterilization.
Perhaps the presence of manifested fire is the key moment for the spark of life to begin to clothe itself with matter? Indeed, even in the experiments of Cross, living beings appeared only after the influence of electricity - one of the forms of manifested fire. And alchemists, who used the water of thunderstorms, also attracted the power of "heavenly fire" - lightning - for the emergence of life.
And although all this is difficult to fit into the mind, the most amazing thing is abiogenesis as a result of the impact of a special type of hidden fire - the fire inside a person …
Did the alchemists know?
Ignis et Azoth tibi sufficiunt.
"Fire and Nitrogen are all you need."
First you need to clarify what medieval alchemy really was. Gold production, contrary to the well-established stereotype, was not the main goal of this science. In fact, the efforts of alchemists were aimed at gaining power over the essence of life, gaining immortality and universal knowledge.
Alchemists believed that the root cause of any life is the Secret Fire - a manifestation of either the divine will, or the cosmic principle. The essence of alchemy boiled down to the art of capturing this fire and imprisoning it in a material body. The substance capable of imprisoning the Secret Fire within itself was called the Mercury of the Sages or Heavenly Salt, and it was very difficult to obtain it.
The material from which it was made was kept in great secrecy, therefore the original matter of the Great Work was often called simply the First Matter. Both substances had hundreds of names in addition to those indicated. Some of these names will be discussed below. The result of the confinement of the Secret Fire in the dungeon of the Mercury of the Sages was the Philosopher's Stone.
As such, the Philosopher's Stone did not produce transmutation - it was simply a vessel containing the power of the Secret Fire. In order for the stone to gain the ability to transform some metals into others, there was a special procedure - "Pigmentation" or "Coloring".
“Finally, by fermenting a solid universal potion by melting directly together with very pure gold or silver, you get a projection powder (Poudre de projection), the third form of stone. It is translucent red or white, depending on the metal, the mass is only suitable for transmutation. The projection powder is designed to target the mineral kingdom. It has no effect on the other two kingdoms."
Pure Stone, unpigmented, was taken as a medicine, and it is also believed to confer immortality.
“This drug restores hearing to the deaf, sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, heals lameness; it is capable of completely renewing a person, replacing his skin, old teeth, nails, replacing gray hair with new ones …”.
According to the old masters, the stone also gives excellent results when applied to the flora, especially fruit trees. Watering the ground near the roots in spring with an elixir solution strongly diluted in rainwater, you can give trees resistance to all sorts of harmful influences. At the same time, the yield increases, the fruits become larger and tastier. Batsdorf even undertook to grow exotic plants in northern latitudes with this stone:
"If you water some whimsical plant for which our climate is unusual with this solution, it will get stronger as if nature created it especially for our region."
Divine Fire is a key concept in both PtC and alchemy. In the first case, he gives life to Prometis, in the second - to the Philosopher's Stone.
Let us examine the most laconic, in our opinion, description of the Great Work:
"Catch the sunbeam, give it a substantial form, feed this embodied spiritual fire with elemental fire, and you will receive the greatest treasure in the world."
If we translate the above into the language of the setting, taking as an example the process of creating a similar one by Prometid, then we will get the embodiment of the creative edge of the principle (Elpis) into the material form of Nitrogen with the help of elemental fire (Pyros).
In both alchemy and PtC, the Secret Fire has many names depending on how and why it is used.
The term Nitrogen is used both in the setting and in classical alchemy. In classical alchemy, he was a direct synonym for the Mercury of the Sages - i.e. the material embodiment of the Secret Fire. It was believed that apart from the source of the Secret Fire and the vessel itself for it - the Mercury of the Sages or Nitrogen - nothing else was needed for doing. Even the saying “Azoth et ignis tibi sufficiunt” (lat. Nitrogen and fire are enough for you) has been preserved.
In the setting, this symbol denotes a coagulated and refined Pyros that does not have a material form. However, the concepts are similar: in one and the other case, this term symbolizes the concentrated Secret Fire.
Flux is the destructive beginning of fire. There is no direct analogue of it in alchemy, although indirectly it is often mentioned when it comes to the first phase of doing - Nigredo, during which it is necessary to destroy the First Matter of doing before turning it into a philosopher's stone. It is believed that nothing can destroy the First Matter to the desired state, except for Alkagest - a universal solvent. Alkagest is viewed as one of the aspects of the same Secret Fire, which is generally behind all the manipulations of alchemy, only not in life-giving, but in destructive hypostasis.
“Know, then, that I have descended from transcendental heights here, into the caves of the earth, where I find food for myself. However, I wish only one thing: to return to my homeland, and for this you have to kill me, and then resurrect me, moreover, resurrect me with the same weapon that you kill”
During the passage of milestones, Prometid, striving for the acquisition of humanity, is awarded Vitriol - a special type of experience points that allows you to develop the thematic characteristics of characters like Humanity and Azoth. Unlike the usual experience, Vitriol is an alchemical solvent that is produced in the body of the protagonists and at the physical level. This quality allows the Created to transform with its help some elements of their body, although the physical origin of Vitrioli makes her abduction possible.
In alchemy, Vitriol is a synonym for Mercury of the Sages, imbued with the Secret Fire. This is almost a formed philosopher's stone - all that remains is to carry out the "animation" operation in order to strengthen it and bring it to perfection.
“… we give all the information that helps to find the mysterious agent of the Great Work. This legend contains an allegorical description of the work that the alchemist must perform in order to extract a living light-bearing spirit from an unrefined mineral - a secret fire enclosed in it in the form of a translucent, melting wax (cire), a crystal which the Sages call their vitriole."
Using Vitriol, Prometid can create Athanor, an internal furnace that allows Vitriol to be transformed into a substance that can survive the acquisition of Mortality by its owner. Athanor is an alchemical furnace, although, of course, Prometid does not literally build a furnace within himself. Nevertheless, in this regard, it is worth noting that the alchemical Athanor was not a furnace of clay and stone. In alchemy, Atanor served as another synonym for the Mercury of the Sages. The ability of Athanor to remain with the Created even after gaining Mortality, apparently, goes back to the Greek meaning of this word.
“However, the athanor - the abode of the mysterious fire - is not so simple. The only and true athanor (from the Greek Άθάνατος - renewing and never dying) for us is matter itself, the bearer of natural and secret fire (feu naturel et secret), the indestructible cause of all our processes."
Homer's Golden Chain
In accordance with the setting, in order to achieve Mortality, Prometid must create another representative of his species, i.e. according to this logic, Prometids will always walk on the earth. According to hermetic legend, the line of masters, or the so-called "Golden Chain of Homer", is never interrupted, otherwise the existence of mankind could be threatened. There are even warnings of apocalyptic nature about the consequences of breaking this tradition.
Nowhere is it directly stated what the mission of alchemical knowledge is on a global scale, but it can be assumed that its main task is to maintain the circulation of the Secret Fire in nature.