Transmutation of Lead to Gold

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Transmutation of Lead to Gold

Postby Turn2Stone on November 29th, 2007, 12:59 pm 

If one were to take an allotropic isotopic mixture of Lead Hydride (were the hydrogen of the hydride is heavy hydrogen deuterium/tritium ) and in an open field where lightning strikes have a high probability of st ricking within that field, would it be possible for the lightning strike to hit the target of Lead hydride and create some small proportion of the lead to transmute to Gold? I understand that a gravity field of a Star going Super Nova is a requirement since that Gravity field has the force to create atoms of higher densities. I'm just wondering if its possible.
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Postby goingtothedogs on November 29th, 2007, 2:23 pm 

I'm sorry but I can't answer your question, though my gut reaction is that the answer is probably "no" due to the scale of the energies involved. I think that the creative power of lightning strikes would fall into the realm of chemistry rather than physics. I imagine that perhaps Rettaw or Lincoln may answer for you.

However, I do have a lovely image of you strapping the bolts to the neck of your creation (whilst cackling "Ha! and they said I was mad...mad....mad.... Ha Ha Ha Ha........" and waiting for the strike....
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Postby Lincoln on November 29th, 2007, 2:27 pm 

Lead has 82 protons and 126 neutrons...depending on isotope. Gold has 79 protons and 118 neutrons...again, depending on isotope.

To make lead into gold means you need to somehow knock off 3 protons and about 8 neutrons. Lightning isn't going to do that. You need to hit it hard enough and that requires (generally) higher energies.

Note that to go from lead to gold, you have to REMOVE nucleons, not add them.
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Postby kudayta on December 1st, 2007, 1:20 am 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's the protons that count right? You could knock off 3 protons from a lead atom and get a gold atom, without ever messing with the electrons or neutrons. (I know, I know, if ONLY we could be that precise).
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Postby Lincoln on December 1st, 2007, 8:01 am 

Yes and no. Protons determine nucleus electric charge, which in turn determines how many electrons. Number of electrons determines atomic properties.

So yeah. However, for a particular number of protons, there are only so many neutrons that can come with it. Deviating too far from that will make the nucleus unstable and it will radioactively decay in some way. I haven't bothered to look up the number of neutrons that can be supported by the number of protons I said gold had. But typically there are only 1-3 numbers of neutrons that work...and usually one dominates.

So gold's 79 protons might come with 116-120 neutrons or so, although 118 is the most likely by far. If you want detailed numbers for gold, I'd have to look up the isotope list.
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Postby Removed user on December 1st, 2007, 8:26 am 

An experimental nuclear reactor in the Soviet Union is said to have turned some of its lead shielding into gold (I can’t confirm this). Also, when I was taking inorganic chemistry, my professor mentioned the fact that Seaborg had been successful in transmuting a small quantity of lead to gold the previous year (this has been confirmed). Therefore, it’s possible, using neutron bombardment, to transmute lead into at least a radioactive form of gold. This is one case where science has actually caught up with science fiction as there was a 1930’s movie called Gold where the “mad scientist” used an atomic reactor to turn lead to gold.
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Postby Lincoln on December 1st, 2007, 8:35 am 

Yah...it's physically doable.

Just outrageously more expensive than just going out and digging.
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Postby noxnaturi on December 12th, 2007, 2:17 am 

Yep, not to mention a complete misunderstanding of what the original phrase related to.
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Postby Removed user on December 12th, 2007, 2:44 am 

noxnaturi wrote:Yep, not to mention a complete misunderstanding of what the original phrase related to.

I'm not sure what you mean by this -- elaborate.
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Postby Steve-O on December 12th, 2007, 2:05 pm 

Although somewhat unrelated because it does not involve messing with the subatomic particles, diamonds can now be artificially created. It turns out to be cheaper to create diamonds in the lab than it is to mine them. As well, you can specify the properties of the diamond making them useful for electronics applications.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_diamond

Somewhat creepy sidenote- A company will take remains of lost loved ones or pets and use them as a carbon source for diamond development.
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Postby BioWizard on December 12th, 2007, 4:04 pm 

Steve-O wrote:Although somewhat unrelated because it does not involve messing with the subatomic particles, diamonds can now be artificially created. It turns out to be cheaper to create diamonds in the lab than it is to mine them. As well, you can specify the properties of the diamond making them useful for electronics applications.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_diamond

Somewhat creepy sidenote- A company will take remains of lost loved ones or pets and use them as a carbon source for diamond development.


If they're starting with carbon and ending up with diamond, it's not really messing with subatomic particles. It's just rearranging the atoms from their orginal location in organic molecules to form diamond-like structures. In other words, it sounds like a chemical, not a nuclear transformation.
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