It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
The origin of many of the most precious elements on the periodic table, such as gold, silver and platinum, has perplexed scientists for more than six decades. Now a recent study has an answer, evocatively conveyed in the faint starlight from a distant dwarf galaxy. In a roundtable discussion, The Kavli Foundation spoke to two of the researchers behind the discovery about why the source of these heavy elements, collectively called "r-process" elements, has been so hard to crack.
In a roundtable discussion, The Kavli Foundation spoke to two of the researchers behind the discovery about why the source of these heavy elements, collectively called "r-process" elements, has been so hard to crack. "Understanding how heavy, r-process elements are formed is one of hardest problems in nuclear physics," said Anna Frebel, assistant professor in the Department of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and also a member of the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research (MKI). "The production of these really heavy elements takes so much energy that it's nearly impossible to make them experimentally," Frebel continued. "The process for making them just doesn't work on Earth. So we have had to use the stars and the objects in the cosmos as our lab."
In the late 1950s, nuclear physicists had worked out that extreme conditions somewhere in the cosmos, full of subatomic particles called neutrons, must serve as the forges for r-process elements, which also include familiar substances such as uranium and lead. The explosions of giant stars and the rare mergings of the densest stars in the universe, called neutron stars, were the most plausible sources. But observational evidence was sorely lacking. Researchers at the MKI have now filled this observational gap. An analysis of the starlight from several of the brightest stars in a tiny galaxy called Reticulum II (top of page), located some 100 light years from Earth, suggests these stars contain whopping amounts of r-process elements.
RESEARCHERS HAVE SOLVED a 60-year-old mystery regarding the origin of the heaviest elements in nature, conveyed in the faint starlight from a distant dwarf galaxy. Most of the chemical elements, composing everything from planets to paramecia, are forged by the nuclear furnaces in stars like the Sun. But the cosmic wellspring for a certain set of heavy, often valuable elements like gold, silver, lead and uranium, has long evaded scientists. Astronomers studying a galaxy called Reticulum II have just discovered that its stars contain whopping amounts of these metals—collectively known as "r-process" elements (See "What is the R-Process?"). Of the 10 dwarf galaxies that have been similarly studied so far, only Reticulum II bears such strong chemical signatures. The finding suggests some unusual event took place billions of years ago that created ample amounts of heavy elements and then strew them throughout the galaxy's reservoir of gas and dust. This r-process-enriched material then went on to form Reticulum II's standout stars.
originally posted by: rshackleford
I think it's interesting to note that we, today, are indeed able to create gold using particle accelerators. I believe that it is actually created from mercury when created in an accelerator. So really, it isn't impossible. Those alchemists weren't able to do it, but it can indeed be done now. Of course, it still isn't exactly 'useful' or rather... profitable... because the cost of running the equipment is greater than the value of the gold created. However; further into the future if the process becomes more efficient or the price of gold goes up enough, or if gold simply is required for something but isn't available, it might be reasonable to turn some mercury into gold. I think it's pretty amazing. Turns out particle accelerators are the 'philosopher stones' that were sought after for so long. Then again, those alchemists probably hoped to make a profit.
The Large Hadron Collider took about a decade to construct, for a total cost of about $4.75 billion. There are several different experiments going on at the LHC, including the CMS and ATLAS Detectors which discovered the Higgs boson. CERN contributes about 20% of the cost of those experiments, which is a total of about $5.5 billion a year. The remainder of the funding for those experiments is provided by international collaborations. Computing power is also a significant part of the cost of running CERN – about $286 million annually. Electricity costs alone for the LHC run about $23.5 million per year. The total operating budget of the LHC runs to about $1 billion per year.
originally posted by: EmmanuelGoldstein
This is why we are here on this planet.
We were created using a genetic concoction of Chimpanzee, Pig and Alien hominoid.
Here we are now!
Our job? The reason we were created and placed on this planet to flourish?
To mine the surface for gold.
That's why every civilization dating back to the earliest of recorded time has been infatuated with gold and mining it to make idols, or wiping out entire civilizations to steal their gold, and on and on.
Gold gold gold, its all about gold.
At least that is what I wrote on the internet and then read what I wrote and internalized it as facts.
originally posted by: skywatcher44
The origin of many of the most precious elements on the periodic table, such as gold, silver and platinum, has perplexed scientists for more than six decades.
but a relatively recent paper suggests that gold and other elements heavier than iron may also be produced in quantity by the collision of neutron stars
The origin of many of the most precious elements on the periodic table, such as gold, silver and platinum, has perplexed scientists for more than six decades. Now a recent study has an answer, evocatively conveyed in the faint starlight from a distant dwarf galaxy. Read more at: phys.org...
Skywalker, chill, you didn't write the article so if it's a little unclear and someone points that out there's no reason for you to take offense.
originally posted by: wildespace
a reply to: skywatcher44
Sorry if it sounded personal; I was taking a stab at the articles quoted. The new theory is interesting, but the wording suggests that scientists previously had no clue as to the origin of gold and heavier elements.