Four ancient classical elements translated into modern terminology

Today I am going to talk about something interesting; the modern day 4 elements.

From NatureHacker blog

We have all heard of the ancient elements and were told to think they were primitive and dumb; namely earth, air, fire, and water. Now we "know" there are over a hundred elements so in school they use that to make the point that the ancients were dumb and we know so much better than them. This is all part of the "American Dream Cult" conditioning. The truth is in all of our finding we have forgotten what the purpose was. Sure we make fighter jets and bombs but is that really progress? To anyone aware the answer is "obviously not".

So what is the point of the elements? What have we been missing in the modern day? Well the answer to that is all practical applications have been lost. Can you look at a periodic table and tell someone how elements act based on their position on the table? No and not even many chemists can, they rely on experiments. Well what if I told you the ancients had a better understanding of chemistry than we do because they had hands on and practical knowledge? Its true. If the internet went down and the highways shut down today we would be more inept at doing anything than "stone age cavemen". 95% of us wouldn't even know how to get water if the tap shut off and bottled water dried up.

So what did the ancients know about chemistry beyond what we can seem to grasp? They were right about the elements. There are 4 basic elements; earth, air, fire, and water. All of the hundred or so "modern day elements" fit into one of those 4 categories. Since we don't realize that we are useless.

So how can we translate those 4 classifications into modern day chemical understanding? Great question. Well it can be attacked from 2 ways; either look at the modern elements and try to categorize them or look at the ancient elements and figure out what the categories correspond to. Well I did both and I am seemingly converging on the answer. What is amazing is all the elements really do fit into 4 different categories.

Earth - Alkaline/reducing agents.

All chemists know acid-base and oxidation-reduction reactions make up pretty much all of chemistry. Earth elements are the alkaline or reducing elements. Things like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium make up this group.

Fire - acid/oxidizing agents.

There is always a yin and yang and we were told it is fire and water but actually it is earth and fire. Oxygen, chlorine, iodine, fluorine make up this group and they neutralize the earth elements.

Water - Solvents.

Reactions are helped by solvents. Water is the prime example. The one thing all solvents have in common is lots of hydrogen atoms on the molecule. These hydrogen rich molecules help to keep everything mixed up an ready to react. Water is the facilitator in other words.

Air - medium.

A medium is exacty what the name implies, not earth and not fire. Air is made mostly out of the pretty inert nitrogen atom. It is merely a medium to hold things in and it doesn't react with anything. So other elements like the noble gasses would be in this category. Also some metals of low reactivity like gold platinum and palladium could be thought of as air elements too to some degree.

So we have translated the 4 classical elements into modern hi tech lingo. Hopefully this understanding will help chemically minded people to think about the elements in a way that makes sense finally and they can actually make some real progress rather than just testing one thing at a time and taking shots in the dark trying to figure out how each element works.

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