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The shrewd alchemist

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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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Posted · Report post

Maybe...

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

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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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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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... 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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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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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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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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Hint:

Helen and an infamous horse.

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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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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....

Nope.

We need a means by which Alex becomes rich.

Answer tomorrow; today's hint:

The King had his Royal Department of Weights and Measures weigh the lead Alex received each day, and weigh the gold Alex returned each morning.

If they both weighed exactly 1 pound, how could Alex have kept any of the gold?

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your Trojan horse hint definitely pointed to the last answer given about painting the lead golden...

so he shaved off some of the gold maybe... and the scales in those days were sucky, and couldnt measure micrograms? lol

can I ask you a question: is the gold he returns PURE 100% gold? I.e. its not Pyrite, like i suggested, or the lead painted with gold leaf or paint, etc?

Would lead 'expand' in the making of gold? Nobody knows since you cant do it and it would be really ****** to make up your own imaginary chemical outcomes and such. So it probably isnt something chemical like lead making more gold than its weight... is it?

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Nothing so tricky as all that - no paint, etc.

The alchemist's goal was always to turn each atom of lead

directly into an atom of gold. There may be a small difference

in the weights of those atoms, but that's not the way Alex

made his fortune.

Here's how it worked.

At the Royal Department of Weights and Measures, the King's

scientists knew that you use a different system for weighing

precious metals -- the Troy system -- from what you use for

weighing say potatoes. Or for that matter, lead.

That would be the Avoirdupois system.

[hint: Helen = Helen of Troy]

The systems differ enough for Alex to be able to deliver back

to the King each morning only about 82% of the gold he made

the previous day. At today's prices, Sir Alex was pocketing

about $2000 each day. Not a bad return on his time.

For the mathematically inclined, a pound is 16 oz in Avoirdupois,

but only 12 oz in Troy weight. But Alex's cut wasn't 25%; it

was less, because a Troy ounce [about 31 grams] is a little heavier

than an Avoirdupois ounce [about 28 grams].

So netting it all out, each day:

Alex was given 453.6 grams of lead [1 pound Avoirdupois]

Alex returned only 373.2 grams of gold [1 pound Troy]

Alex kept about 80 grams of gold for himself.

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+ 6% for the alchemical conversion of the mole.

A pound of lead converted in either system would make 1.06 pounds of gold.

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Alex didn't realize that; so to be fair, he should get his 18%

and you should get the other 6% -- about $670 a day ...

that sound alright?

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Posted · Report post

Sounds good to me! How do I collect?

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Sounds good to me! How do I collect?
Not sure. Alex isn't answering his phone since the story broke.
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