On immensity

The night sky is still a great mystery, though not in the sense that it is something beyond the ken of our knowledge or incomprehensibly magical.  Paracelsus gives a very astute definition of the term ‘mystery’: the mystery of an oak tree, he says for instance, is the acorn. In that humble little acorn which fits in the palm of a child’s hand lies the potential life of a...

The gentleman buccaneer

As kids we often saw him sitting in the tavern, next to the dark fireplace, all by himself. In the mornings when we were on our way to school we would catch a glimpse of this tall, gaunt gentleman standing in front of the roof window in the small upstairs apartment he rented from Mrs. Hartmann. There was always a mug of steaming coffee in his hand and his gaze was transfixed on some far-off...

Why everybody loves the beach (from an alchemist’s point of view)

Enjoying a day of exquisite laziness at the beach is one of the simplest and most innocent luxuries still left to modern man; especially in the summertime.   People from all walks of life, whose tastes and ideas of “a good time” may vary greatly, can all agree that a visit to the beach constitutes a pleasant, relaxing and rejuvenating experience - except for some hardcore...

For a bowl of Black Broth

For almost a year the Eastern host of the Great King Xerxes had marched from victory to victory. Granted, Xerxes’ loses had been embarrassing at times. Yet he was pretty sure that unfortunate incidents like the skirmish at Thermopylae or the gross incompetence of his naval officers in Artemisium would soon be forgotten and history would hardly bother to record them; and if all else failed...

Thine own Autocrat

For centuries the world, or rather what was known as “the world” by most, was ruled by the Roman autocrats, better known under the less intriguing name of “emperors” to modern day students of history.   The autocrat was the supreme ruler of the empire. He held in his hands power over life and death for each and every one of his subjects, from the lowliest of...

May you live in mythological times

(Image: to the right, NASA's Valkyrie R5 humanoid robot built to compete in the DARPA robotics challenge; to the left, reconstruction of "Philo's servant", the first humanoid robot in history designed by Philo of Byzantium, 280 - 220 B.C. The guest to a banquet would place his cup on the robot's extended palm and at once a hidden mechanism would be put in motion which moved the pitcher down to...
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