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Alchemists’ secret revealed in Iceland ?

In the Middle-Age, alchemists devoted themselves to the research of the philosopher stone all their lives through. Today, in Iceland, it seems that a hot bath may turn silver into gold.

To find clues, we decided to have such a bath with different jewels. We used two different springs. After one hour the silver jewel had a gold color whereas the white gold jewel hat not evolved. Moreover, changes occurred quicklier in one of the two baths which was recognizable because of its unpleasant smell. This smell became an important clue.

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Picture 1 : rings before and after a hot bath. Silver seems to have become gold.

Indeed, we discovered the same one when we brushed our teeth and took our shower : it was the hot spring from the taps. We also noticed another likeness : a kind of white steam. That’s why we looked for these three clues elsewhere in Iceland : the smell, steam and gold.

We explored Icelandic glaciers and avoided an earthquake before finding that in Landmannalaugar (see picture 2). We recognized the small, steam and a yellow stone. However, this stone was not gold, but sulfur. The only problem was that the color was not exactly the same.

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Picture 2 : In Landmannalaugar, we can see steam (title) and yellow stones

We might have concluded that our first experience was a simple sulfur deposit. Actually, this is not true, as the color problem showed us. Sulfur also exits as a gas (H2S, it is the gas we smelt at the beginning) and as an ion (S2-). Here, in the bath, there are such ions, and they react with Ag+. S2-+ 2 Ag+ = Ag2S

As a result, Ag2S is produced. This is what we can see in our experience. So there is not any gold... Our alchemists still have to work !

Friday, July 22, 2011 François W., Antoine M. and Bastien L.

bastien.lepesant,, Jerome MATHEY,
date de publication : 7 mai 2012,
date de dernière mise à jour : 27 décembre 2011

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