# Modern usage of alchemical symbols

As far as I know, not many (if any) alchemical symbols have survived in modern nomenclature of science, either in chemistry or any other. I think $\LaTeX$ doesn't even support most of them! I know some symbols are quite cumbersome to draw, but not all of them, so I'd like to know:

1. Examples of surviving symbols which can be traced back to alchemy (not the obvious planetary ones in astronomy!).
2. An explanation of why most of them didn't survive.
• Something is wrong with the grammar here, which makes the question incomprehensible: LaTeX does support or does not syupport? Why they survived or why they did not? – Alexandre Eremenko Apr 14 '15 at 20:27
• @AlexandreEremenko I believe LaTeX doesn't support most of them. I've edited the post, please let me know if it's still not clear. – hjhjhj57 Apr 14 '15 at 21:11
• Why should they survive is alchemistry did not? Planetary symbols and Zodiac signs survived because they are used in astronomy and astrology (both still widely practiced). But for other symbols there is just no use. – Alexandre Eremenko Apr 15 '15 at 2:17

Some of the symbols survive for incidental reasons. Diamond symbol is used by jewelers because it literally resembles a cut diamond. Caduceus (the rod of Hermes), appropriated by alchemists to represent amalgamation of sulphur and mercury, is used as a symbol of commerce, and in the US of medicine due to a historical comedy of errors. It is unknown if John Wallis had Ouroboros in mind when he picked $\infty$ for infinity. Few mathematicians know (or care) that $\triangle$ is fire, $\nabla$ is water, $\square$ is urine, $\ominus$ is salt, $\oplus$ is sal armoniac (a mineral form of ammonium chloride), and $\odot$ is gold. Dalton, interestingly enough, used $\oplus$ for sulphur, and $\odot$ for hydrogen, they are that flexible. It is likely that mathematicians made up those symbols independently rather than picked them up from alchemic tables. But here is one seen in some logos, which is definitely borrowed, the Squared Circle, the 17th century glyph for the Phiolosopher's Stone.