Utah State University Faculty Honor Lectures
The Faculty Association, Utah State University
Alchemists, the forerunners of chemists, for more than a millennium sought the "Philosopher's Stone"-the transmuting agent that could change imperfect base metals such as lead and tin to the noble metals, gold and silver, and also serve as the Elixir of Life to heal the infirmities of man and prolong his existence on earth.
Where alchemy failed, chemistry, in little more than a century, has succeeded in finding the "Philosopher's Stone," for it is now not only possible to transmute one metal into another and heal many of man's infirmities, but scarcely a facet of man's life has not been influenced through chemical research and industry.
Alchemists failed because they sought to solve the problem directly. Chemists succeeded because they first sought to understand the basic principles of nature and directed their efforts to the fundamentals. Industrial applications were the logical and natural outgrowth of these fundamental discoveries.
Smith, Grant Gill, "A Modern Philosopher's Stone" (1967). Faculty Honor Lectures. Paper 76.