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Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose practitioners have, from antiquity, claimed it to be the precursor to profound powers. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied but historically have included the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone, transmuting base metals into the noble metals, and developing an elixir of life to confer youth and longevity.

Though alchemy played a significant role in the development of early modern science, it differs from modern science in its inclusion of Hermetic principles and practices related to mythology, magic, religion, and spirituality. Alchemists developed a structure of basic laboratory techniques, theory, terminology, and experimental method, some of which are still in use today, but predated modern foundations of chemistry, such as scientific skepticism, atomic theory, the modern understanding of a chemical element and a chemical substance, the periodic table and conservation of mass and stoichiometry, instead believing in four elements and phlogiston, and cryptic symbolism and mysticism was an integral part of alchemical work.

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