Guide The Ether

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According to ancient and medieval science, aether, also spelled æther or ether and also called quintessence, is the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere.
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What could possibly go wrong in a week? Well, shit does happen and when you least expect it.

String Theory For Dummies

Accident in Paradise It was 2 am, we'd driven down the beach in what was a fairly euphoric state after an epic party, and jumped on a little speed boat that was going to take us to our next stop Anyway, most importantly, we all survived. Luck was on our side, the tide was going out and we were near a sand bank. We were rescued several hours later by a fishing boat.

Unfortunately, though, salt water and technology don't really mix, and 10 years of programming, music collection etc etc all went down the swanny. I managed to scramble back some tracks from people I had given them to previously, and a couple of those are on the album. Did your adopted home influence the way you worked on the album and the sounds you created?

Kindred Spirits: The Ether Drift

Aether was also a Greek god, one of the first-born deities in the pantheon, the primordial god of light and the sky. In the 4th century BCE, Aristotle brought this concept of heavenly air into the world of physics. His philosophy saw aether as the fifth element, after earth, air, fire, and water. He believed the four terrestrial elements were changeable and transient, but the planets and stars were eternal and thus must be made of a different substance that transcended the earthly four.

He called it aether. Centuries later, the classical fifth element would inspire another epic but influential scientific misfire: alchemy. Alchemy, the magical medieval proto-science, came into vogue in the Western world in the 12th and 13th centuries, when the texts of the Greek and Arab philosophers were translated into Latin and European scholars finally got wind of these ancient ideas.

Alchemists dusted off the antique concept of aether and put a new spin on it. A bit of godly essence was hidden in all things, whether animal, plant, or mineral. The trick was freeing it.

Aristotle believed the four physical elements were changeable, and alchemists took this idea and ran with it. The underlying belief was that metals were alive and growing, and could change into other substances. Metals were all composed of the four elements, but were in different stages of maturity on their way to spiritual perfection.

Into the Ether | Listen via Stitcher for Podcasts

The theory, then, was that by distilling a substance down to its elemental form and creating the perfect balance and proportions of the different elements, you could purify matter and transmute one substance into another. The ultimate goal was to turn immature base metals like lead into higher metals like gold by releasing their perfect state, or quintessence. But what exactly was quintessence? That depends on which alchemist you ask.

Reality Stone

Alchemy was a secretive and enigmatic art with endless interpretations. To some, quintessence was a subtle substance found in some degree in each of the other four elements. Others thought it contained all the other elements within it.


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  • Metals and mortals could both be made more pure by freeing that little bit of divine spirit hidden in nature. Purification represented humans striving to perfect the soul.

    Martin Garrix - Live Ámsterdam (The Ether) 2019

    Achieving gold was like knowing God. In the medicinal corners of alchemy, it was also known as the elixir of life, a universal cure that could bring eternal life. In a sense, the Stone was the physical representation of the concept of perfection, or quintessence itself.

    Discovering this magical substance was the magnum opus of any alchemist.


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    • The key ingredient of his recipe was mercury, which was likely also a key ingredient in the nervous breakdown he suffered in during his time experimenting with toxic chemicals. A more happy side effect of the quest for the elusive stone was the accidental discovery of phosphorus, first made by boiling copious amounts of human pee. In , a German hobby alchemist named Hennig Brand got his hands on a recipe for turning lead into gold using concentrated urine. Brand somehow gathered more than 50 buckets of the golden liquid he reportedly preferred the urine of beer drinkers , and after a likely gruesome period of experimentation in his basement laboratory, wound up with a bright, white liquid that would burst into flame when exposed to oxygen.

      In fact, he had discovered the 15th element on the periodic table, still used in the tips of matches today. Alchemy would not survive the Age of Reason in the West. By the late 18th century it had morphed into the modern field of chemistry or else was relegated to the occult. Yet the theory of aether endured. The theory met with increasing difficulties as the nature of light and the structure of matter became better understood.

      Appearances

      It was seriously weakened by the Michelson-Morley experiment , which was designed specifically to detect the motion of Earth through the ether and which showed that there was no such effect. Ether theories were also used to explain gravity beginning in the 17th century, but they did not have the popularity of those explaining the propagation of light.

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