Metals are abundant in our world. Since their discovery, these elements have piqued human curiosity and activated the creative gene. Human beings, from ancient times to the modern era, have found plenty of uses for these malleable elements and integrated them so deeply into everyday life. Early coins, for example, were how payments and debts were made.
The art of working with metals was a very special practice. Metallurgy was a valuable skill. Alchemy was an early practice (considered pseudoscience today) that captured the imagination of many. For a long time, metallurgy and alchemy were intricately tied together. By the time of the Renaissance, metallurgy achieved a certain professional distinction, unlike many other crafts.
Here at C&E Industrial, we specialize in all aspects of the commercial construction process and a big part of that is welding and working with metals. Welding techniques today are so advanced and sophisticated but the fundamental concept remains the same. This incredible tradition plays an important role in many of today’s most complex construction projects. So, let’s talk metal.
The ancient world evolved from the Stone Age—as defined from the central tool used by early humans—to the Bronze Age and Iron Age when metals took over and changed the way humans interact with their environment. An incredible cannon of metallurgical knowledge and understanding happened between each period.
Metallurgy began as an artform but very quickly adopted a scientific approach. Prehistoric man used six metals including gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, and iron. At first, gold and silver were used mostly for decoration, copper was hardened and used for some tools. Bronze was achieved by the mixture of copper with tin and had very specific strengths and uses including weaponry. The discovery of iron and its many uses helped change civilization and transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age.
The Mystery of Alchemy and the Alchemists Who Knew the Secret of the Universe
The mythical philosopher’s stone has been the topic of many students of the metal arts and history-enthusiasts. For hundreds of years, metal workers thought to possess some other-worldly skill that could turn base metals into shiny gold were the center of many myths and shrouded in mystery and secrecy. This was the concept of transmutation: the conversion of one element to another. The practice was intricately tied with a spiritual worldview that proclaimed that all things around us contained spiritual energy and that metals, like other natural substances, possessed life and universal spirit. Alchemists were often considered pseudoscientific, but they also captivated people’s imagination.
As Scientific American explains, these metal craftsmen paved the way for modern chemistry and medicine but were simply lacking in knowledge that we take for granted today. Less talked about are the many techniques and chemical concoctions that the alchemists of the 16th and 17th centuries developed and how they were not tricksters but very well-versed chemists that actually possessed a lot of insight into the properties of metals and their behavior.
Irish-born Robert Boyle, who is often considered the father of modern chemistry, dabbled in this transformative art for a time. And yet, despite their intimate knowledge of metals, many of these early alchemists continued searching for the unreachable philosopher’s stone. Many modern chemists claim that much of their shortcomings were due to one major gap: they did not yet know or fully understand that lead and gold were completely different atomic elements. The periodic table that we all learn in grade school was hundreds of years away from completion.
The alchemists of the 16th and 17th century would be blown away to know that the fabled transmutation of lead to gold is actually possible. No, it’s not black magic. All you need is a particle accelerator as well as a vast supply of energy and a lowered expectation of how much gold will come out the other side. So technically, it’s possible but as scientists explain, it’s not what you would expect as it requires a very precise process and very little gold output that is hard to separate.
As the Industrial Revolution hit the Western World, welding technology accelerated and brought upon some of the modern techniques and equipment used today. Facing the urgency of fighting world wars and powerful enemies played a large role in the advancement of welding techniques and more.
The Modern Metal Artist
No, we’re not talking about a musical genre that uses heavy electrical guitar sounds, fast riffs, a lot of long hair, and whiplash-inducing head movements with unintelligible lyrics, we’re talking about the welders and the metalworkers that are out there day-to-day performing necessary tasks in the construction process.
At C&E Industrial, we employ some of these highly-skilled techs. All of our welders, for example, have special training and hold the ASME certification. The ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code is a standard that places high demands on those working on the design, fabrication, and inspection of boilers and pressure vessels.
So, if you’re looking for someone that understands the delicate and fine art and science of welding, trust professionals that have experience and training. Call us today for your commercial construction needs!