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Alchemy is a precursor of modern science, which incorporated such disciplines as astrology, and mysticism in studying metals and how to transmute them into gold. Alchemists believed that understanding the secret of gold's immutability might provide the key to ward off disease and organic decay.
The decline of alchemy began in the 18th century with the birth of modern chemistry, which provided a more precise and reliable framework for matter transmutations and medicine. Isaac Newton devoted considerably more of his time and writing to the study of alchemy than he did to either optics or physics, for which he is famous.