The Spell, by William Fettes Douglas, 1864. © National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, The Bridgeman Art Library.

Magic Shows

Volume V, Number 3 | summer 2012


When Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy discovered that with radioactivity one atom can be transformed into another, Soddy recalled blurting out “Rutherford, this is transmutation: the thorium is disintegrating and transmuting itself into argon gas.” As “the words seemed to flash through” Soddy “as if from some outside force,” Rutherford replied, “For Mike’s sake, Soddy, don’t call it transmutation. They’ll have our heads off as alchemists.”

The Mughal’s nature is such that they demand miracles, but if a miracle were to be performed by some upright follower of our religion, they would say that it had been brought about by magic and sorcery. They would strike him down with spears or would stone him to death.

—Fr. Antonio Monserrate, 1590