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Strange BUT Untrue

Alchemy

(or, How to Get Rich Really, Really Slow)

Alchemy is the science of trying to turn stuff into gold. It used to be the Pharmacist's favourite pastime in the Middle Ages, but sadly in the modern world it has gone into decline due to lack of government funding (they decided it wasn't viable any more.) This is a shame, because it could only be a matter of time before somebody found out how to do it and made themselves incredibly rich.

The first reported alchemist was called King Midas, who turned everything he could lay his hands on into gold. He met his tragic end when he went for a dip in the royal pool and accidentally buried himself alive under 6 feet of gold that had previously been water. However, it is rumoured that he cheated and used magic instead of Pharmacy to make the gold, so on second thoughts he probably deserved it.

Years went by and still no gold was made using Pharmacy, and this is probably why the impatient investors cut their funds. They expected immediate results, and seemed unprepared to wait a few hundred years for the right technology to turn up. Slowly, the alchemists were forced to turn their minds away from their task and work on other projects, though with great reluctance.

To make gold from, say, Cheddar Cheese (used because it looks similar to gold - yellow), all you really need to do is force the Dust that makes up the cheese to separate and recombine in the right way; the way Dust is arranged within gold. However, the original idea of bashing the cheese with a sledge hammer was abandoned when demand for cheap fondue was sated. The next idea was to find a substance that could be combined with cheese to make gold. Experiments with various other food products produced a variety of interesting results such as pizza, and cheese and onion flavour crisps, but no gold.

The latest idea (proposed by the Institute of Lazy Pharmacy, Florida) has been to wait for the invention of a Machine That Does Everything, and then ask it to make gold from cheese. However, the possibility exists that it would say 'No'. The scientists are currently looking into this idea. Using other machines which fire tiny particles around, there have been claims made of tiny amounts of gold made by changing elements of one substance into another. When asked where the gold is, though, these would-be Pharmacists begin to make ridiculous excuses that it is "too small to be seen by the human eye", so they are probably lying just to get themselves in the newspapers.

Strange BUT Untrue would like to encourage a renewed attempt at successful alchemy with this "Gold Production Competition". The first person daft enough to send in a gold ingot will win 60p ($1).

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