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The shrewd alchemist


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16 replies to this topic

#1 bonanova

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 05:06 AM

He'd spent a lifetime searching, and Alex the Alchemist
one night finally found the secret of turning lead into gold.

When he reported his newfound prowess to his King, the
sovereign was skeptical. Nevertheless he ordered all the
lead in the kingdom confiscated and then gave a pound of
the dull stuff to Alex, demanding it be transformed into
something suitable to enrich the royal coffers the next day.

A handsome reward was promised for success, along with generous
compensation for making this a daily task; but death on the
gallows awaited if Alex were found to be untruthful.

Delighted with this opportunity, and seizing a chance to curry
the King's favor even more, Alex declined all compensation, opining
that it was reward enough, simply to be of service to his Liege.

True to his word, lowly Alex returned to the castle at sunrise,
a pound of glistening gold lying heavy in his rucksack. He laid
it at the Monarch's feet, where a surprise awaited. The King
convened his court, and stood, to praise Alex -- both for his
alchemistic prowess and for his remarkable willingness to forgo
monetary reward -- and knighted him on the spot!

Smiling, Sir Alex rose and left the castle, satisfied that he had
both gained the King's favor, and become not only a knight but
a rich man, as well.

What was shrewd Alex's secret?

Edited for clarification.
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The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
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#2 Writersblock

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 08:47 AM

Maybe...
He found a market for lead where it was worth more than it's weight in gold?
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#3 bonanova

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 09:11 AM

Maybe...
He found a market for lead where it was worth more than it's weight in gold?


Nope, that's not it.
Remember, the King, whose mama has raised no fools, has confiscated all the lead in the kingdom.
Alex has only a daily allowance of lead, and his head comes off next morning if he fails to bring it back as gold.
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The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
- Bertrand Russell

#4 Writersblock

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 06:38 PM

That's where I was going ... if all the lead was confinscated, then market forces of supply and demand make it a scarce item and ....
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#5 bonanova

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 07:03 PM

... the price of lead would go up.

That's a good observation.
But the primary effect would be to make the King's hoard of lead more valuable.

We have to somehow see how Sir Alex got rich.

Here's a clue
Sir Alex made his fortune the old fashioned way -- in gold.
But he wasn't King Midas -- he couldn't make gold from anything other than lead.
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- Bertrand Russell

#6 Writersblock

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 10:25 PM

So if he's not reselling the lead and making profit, and we are to assume he is making the lead into gold, then I propose:

The means by which he is turning lead into gold preserves the number of atoms in the lead, so that none are lost in conversion. Therefore since a mole of gold is about 94% that of a mole of lead, then the alchemist is making about 6% on every pound of lead he's converting. Since the pound of lead would make about 1.06 pounds of gold, he gives up the pound of gold and keeps the 6%.
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#7 bonanova

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 08:20 AM

So if he's not reselling the lead and making profit, and we are to assume he is making the lead into gold, then I propose:

The means by which he is turning lead into gold preserves the number of atoms in the lead, so that none are lost in conversion. Therefore since a mole of gold is about 94% that of a mole of lead, then the alchemist is making about 6% on every pound of lead he's converting. Since the pound of lead would make about 1.06 pounds of gold, he gives up the pound of gold and keeps the 6%.



You've got the right idea. But he makes a bigger cut -- about 20%.

How?
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The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
- Bertrand Russell

#8 unreality

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 02:47 PM

I dont know about moles and that (i'm just starting chemistry, gimme a break ) but maybe the gold was pyrite?
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#9 bonanova

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 10:42 PM

Hint:
Helen and an infamous horse.
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The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
- Bertrand Russell

#10 Spec1alGift

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 05:01 AM

Ooo I know...
Spoiler Is NO Fun... The answer is >>>

The gold is the 1 lb lead which is painted with the color gold... Duh??
If im wrong then i have no clue wat so ever....
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