In this Pocket Essential Sean Martin shows that nothing could be further from the truth. It is important to see the search for the philosopher's stone and the attempts to turn base metal into gold as metaphors for the relation of man to nature and man to God as much as seriously held beliefs. Alchemy had a self-consistent outlook on the natural world and man's place in it. Alchemists like Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus were amongst the greatest minds of their time and the history of alchemy is both the history of a spiritual search and the history of a slowly developing scientific method. Sir Isaac Newton devoted as much time to his alchemical studies as he did to his mathematical ones.