Alchemy is the ancient, bullshit version of chemistry. When most people hear the word they immediately think of the alchemists who claimed they could turn lead into gold (a practice called Chrysopoeia, which is not to be confused with Chrysopelea, which is a flying snake. Seriously, don't confuse them. Your experiments will get terrifying in a hurry.)
"Now marvel, as I transmutate lead into gol-AHHH SNAAAAKES!!!"
--Mernil the Dyslexic Wizard
Of course, the closest old-timey alchemists ever really got was mixing sulfur and gold powder into a metal to turn it yellow. That's right: All it took to create "gold" from lead was to put some gold in it! Good god, it was staring us in the face the entire time!
How it's Becoming Real:
Science has made monumental leaps since that era when alchemy was considered the second-most promising method of obtaining gold after "capturing a leprechaun." We now know that gold is an element that simply has three fewer protons than lead. If you could somehow change that using SCIENCE...
Oh, actually we're kind of late on this one. Back in 1980, a scientist named Glenn Seaborg accidentally made gold out of bismuth, using the aforementioned proton-plucking method (OK, it was a bit more complicated than that).
Yes, bismuth, the same stuff that's in Pepto Bismol.
Or "Pink Bismuth" if you can only afford the generic.
It was only a few thousand atoms' worth, and the cost of doing it was way more than the resulting gold would be worth. But still. He made gold.
Seaborg, seen here without gold. There are, like, 200 friggin' pictures of the guy, and not one of them has gold in it. Awesome work, Google.
And mankind is really just getting started with the whole "change elements by farting around with their protons" business. Transmutation of elements is one of the things they're always doing at CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider. Though they're talking less about turning lead into gold and more about turning radioactive waste into something that won't poison our great great grandchildren.
But hey, thanks to Cracked, Google search and poor reading comprehension, we're laying odds that at least one Internet-frequenter will be microwaving some Pepto tonight, and keeping that old dipshit alchemist spirit alive!
Chiromancy, or "palm reading" is the supposed ability to discern a person's dominant personality traits or even divine their future by interpreting the lines on their palm. It's basically just a hand-fetish version of the cold reading we discussed earlier: close inspection of the hands can say a lot. The placement and amount of calluses, how well the nails are kept, indents from rings--they're all general clues to a person's life.
"Hm. You see here? The stickiness of the heart line indicates you're a bachelor."
How it's Becoming Real:
Your hand really is a gold-mine of information about your genetics and overall health. We have previously explained how researchers have figured out that finger length can determine sexual behavior, a.k.a. the Digit Ratio Theory.
But your fingerprints also contain a load of information about certain genetic disorders. For example, if you have something called Ulnar Swirls (pictured below) it's likely you have Down's syndrome.
The same creases in the palms the fortune tellers claim to read are actually indicators of certain genetic disorders and even fetal alcohol syndrome.
Of course, old-fashioned palm readers have seized on this to claim they were right all along. See! If scientists can find genetic clues in your Life Line, surely our experts will be able to predict when you'll meet your soulmate! For a small fee!