fimmtudagur, mars 09, 2006

cinnabar

I have recently remembered cinnabar.

I was briefly fascinated with this stuff some twenty years ago. I had just learned about the mercury-sulfur theory of metals, which seems to have been the work of the 14th-century pseudo-Geber (and not the 8th-century actual Geber or Jabir Ibn Haiyan, though modern would-be alchemists like to attribute it to the elder Geber). Cinnabar had seemed mysterious and special in light of a theory that held all metals to consist of mercury and sulfur in varying proportions. It was itself a combination of mercury and sulfur (mercury sulfide), but manifestly not a metal.

There was some very spiffy-looking symbol used for it by alchemists, long before the periodic table brought uniformity to chemical notation. It is exactly the sort of thing that is nearly impossible to look up on the internet.

2 ummæli:

sean sagði...

Googling 'alchemical alphabet' brought me right to this page. There's a symbol for cinnabar there, though as far as I know there may be others. Now if only Hallmark used hallmarks that cool, I might buy more greeting cards.

sterna sagði...

Ye gods, that's it! Two 'ounce' signs with the bar going through them both. It's just as I remembered it.

 
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