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Facebook gets into fitness tracking with purchase of popular iPhone app Moves

Cult of Mac - 1 hour 32 min ago
Facebook has been on quite the buying spree lately. After snatching up Oculus VR, the social network is now acquiring a popular fitness tracking app for the iPhone. ProtoGeo Oy, the Finnish app maker behind Moves, announced today that it is joining…Read more ›






Next chapter of The Wolf Among Us looks even more brutal and scary

Cult of Mac - 3 hours 46 min ago
The third episode in acclaimed adventure game The Wolf Among Us has just dropped on Steam, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and iOS, and –if the trailer below is any indication — it’s a doozy. Titled ‘A Crooked Mile,’ the new…Read more ›






Apple, Google pay off 64,000 workers to kill anti-poaching lawsuit

Cult of Mac - 5 hours 30 min ago
  Apple hasn’t shied from going toe-to-toe in a heavy legal battle for months or years if need be, but rather than seeing its latest class action lawsuit go to trial, Apple has relented to settle instead. Four major tech…Read more ›






How to save all your embarrassing tweets in 1 fell swoop

Cult of Mac - 6 hours 27 min ago
You know, it sure would be nice if you could retain ownership of all that pithy writing you’ve done over the years on Twitter, right? I mean, chances are you’ve crafted some fairly amazing 140-character diatribes along the way, and…Read more ›






Get more power to chew on with Gum Plus [Deals]

Cult of Mac - 6 hours 50 min ago
When a product wins both Red Dot Design and iF product design awards you have to take notice. We definitely did, and jumping on board with Gum Plus became easy. Gum Plus is a stylish portable backup battery for iPod,…Read more ›






Whirl away your free time with unique match three game Spin It

Cult of Mac - 7 hours 22 min ago
It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a situation throughout the day when you’re just bored and looking for something to do. The new app Spin It is an application that not only entertains you, but also brings a fresh…Read more ›






Got $600K? Buy a condo, or eat lunch with Tim Cook

Cult of Mac - 10 hours 15 min ago
If you’ve ever wished you could grab lunch with Apple’s Tim Cook, now is your chance. Cook is auctioning off a lunch date at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. All proceeds from the action will go to the RFK Center for…Read more ›






Build the theme park of your dreams with RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum [Deals]

Cult of Mac - 11 hours 34 min ago
Who doesn’t love to let their imagination run wild every once in a while? And who doesn’t like to save money while doing so? Well, Cult of Mac Deals has you covered on both fronts. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Platinum combines…Read more ›






PaperSync scans your notebooks to PDF, returns them intact

Cult of Mac - 11 hours 50 min ago
PaperSync is a more appealing version of the Mod Notebooks service. Like Mod, PaperSync scans your paper pages and turns them into digital files. Unlike Mod, PaperSync uses plain old PDFs, and works with any notebook you like, not just…Read more ›






Prong PWR puts a power plug on your iPhone

Cult of Mac - 12 hours 50 min ago
Prong’s PWR promises to provide your phone with power, preventing all problems. It’s a slim-ish case with a built-in battery along with a pair of flip-out power prongs that can be thrust directly into a wall outlet. The Prong PWR,…Read more ›






SinkFoot adds flirty pictures to your adult conversations

Cult of Mac - 13 hours 4 min ago
Emoji are versatile and cute, but if you want to get a little … direct with your significant other, you have to get pretty creative. SinkFoot wants to help with its small fleet of increasingly specific pictures that you can…Read more ›






Sinkers Lets You Tap, Swipe And Curse Your Way To Glory [Review]

Cult of Mac - 13 hours 20 min ago
Sinkers has been out for a couple weeks now, but if you haven’t played it yet, you should. Sinkers by Bitzerland Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Price: Free It’s a minimalist puzzle game with two controls:…Read more ›






Credit-Card-Sized iPhone Charger Packs Backup Battery

Cult of Mac - 13 hours 50 min ago
Remember when the coolest brag for a gadget was that it was “credit-card sized”? Those times are back. The Revi Charger is a credit-card sized iPhone charger with a built-in backup battery, and could really be just the thing in…Read more ›






The Wonderful Rides of Steve Wozniak

Cult of Mac - 14 hours 17 min ago
Over the years, cherubic Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has demonstrated a love of all things two-wheeled, four wheeled and winged. After spotting his latest hot wheels — a super spiffy Tesla X — we were inspired to take inventory of…Read more ›






The Complete Timeline Of Apple TV Channels [Infographic]

Cult of Mac - 14 hours 19 min ago
Compared to the likes of the Roku, which boasts a 1,000+ channel library, the Apple TV doesn’t exactly have a lot of different media channels. The Apple TV boasts only has around 33 third-party channels. Much of the reason the…Read more ›






Sonic Racing Transformed Goes Free On Android & iOS

Cult of Mac - 14 hours 38 min ago
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, the hugely popular kart racing game that features Sonic and a number of other famous video game characters, is now available for free on Android and iOS. SEGA hopes that making the title free will improve its multiplayer…Read more ›






Sonic Racing Transformed Goes Free On Android & iOS

Cult of Mac - 14 hours 38 min ago
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, the hugely popular kart racing game that features Sonic and a number of other famous video game characters, is now available for free on Android and iOS. SEGA hopes that making the title free will improve its multiplayer…Read more ›






AAPL! AAPL! AAPL! Buy! Buy! Buy!

Cult of Mac - 14 hours 50 min ago
Sell the house. Sell the car. Sell the kids. Take every penny you own and invest it in Apple stock, because the company is about to go gangbusters. The big news from yesterday’s earth-shattering earnings call is that this is…Read more ›

How Big Will The iPhone 6 Be Compared To The iPhone 5s, Nexus 5 And Galaxy Note 3? [Video]

Cult of Mac - 15 hours 37 min ago
A new video uses an case out of China to show how a “speculative” iPhone 6 with a 4.7-inch display would measure up against the iPhone 5s, Nexus 5, and Galaxy Note 3. But how reliable is a leaked case,…Read more ›






Explore a Renaissance Alchemy Lab

Augoeides - 15 hours 50 min ago
If you ever find yourself in Prague, here's a fascinating restoration project that you can visit. In 2002 a homeowner found that one of his basement walls had collapsed after heavy rains hit the city. Behind the wall he found a secret passage leading into the remains of an actual alchemy lab dating back to the European Renaissance. After ten years of restoration based on period drawings and engravings, the lab is now called Speculum Alchemiae and is open to the general public. This article provides an account of visiting the site written by a modern chemist.

Speculum Alchemiae offers thirty minute tours of the subterranean laboratories. Luckily, when I visited, the tour group consisted of just my travel partner and I, and the very knowledgeable tour guide. It didn’t require much imagination to be transported back to times gone by; the quest for the philosopher’s stone, elixir of eternal youth and transmutation (turning metals into gold). The whole of foggy, gothic Prague lends itself to this transportation. Speculum Alchemiae is really just the cherry on the cake.

The laboratory is believed to have been built at the behest of Emperor Rudolf II – Holy Roman Emperor between 1576 to 1612, and a great alchemy devotee. Whilst living in Prague he encouraged Europe’s best alchemists to his court; men such as Edward Kelley, John Dee, Tycho de Brahe and Rabbi Loew. He is even known to have performed some alchemy experiments himself. The secret passages connect the laboratories to Prague Castle, the Old Town Hall and Barracks – allowing alchemists to travel unseen between the four locations.


The history is fascinating, but as a chemist I was just as drawn to the actual workings of the laboratory. There are three main rooms. The first is a drying room, where plants were stored and dried, to be used in elixirs. The second is where most of the magic happened; with apparatus for plant distillation and elixir blending, and a transmutation oven. The third is a glass-blowing room; the alchemists made their own glass apparatus in order to be self-sufficient and avoid discovery. Oven exhaust was funneled through the house and out of its chimneys, as gases rising from under the streets would have been another sure route to discovery.
Edward Kelley is known to have conducted alchemical experiments for Rudolf II, so it's possible that he worked in this very laboratory centuries ago. Unfortunately for my off-the-cuff speculations about actually transmuting mercury into gold using radioactive elements, nothing of the sort was found in the laboratory. It may very well be that alchemists never experimented with radioactive materials, as doing so would have been extremely dangerous with the technology of the time.

However, it appears that the place was used for concocting herbal elixirs that could very well have been more effective than the raw herbs from which they were derived, which likely accounts for alchemy's association with medicine and healing. Work with "plant stones" of this sort could be thought of as the original version of the processes still used today to extract specific drugs from the plants that produce them. There are known alchemical procedures, for example, for extracting both polar salts and non-polar alkaloids from dried herbs, and the same methods were employed by early chemists.

Categories: Occulture

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