The original Taoist alchemists were later called wai tan or "outer alchemists." Their main goal was to obtain the secret elixir of immortality. The means to this end was to compound substances such as mercury and gold in their alchemical furnace to create the "immortal pill." They believed that by ingesting the correct compound they would attain physical immortality. As was the case with early scientists and alchemists in the West such as Newton, this work developed into a proto-science that led to other discoveries.14 In China research of the alchemists led to multitudinous discoveries, including advancements in medical herbology and metallurgy and the discovery of gunpowder.
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