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Can One Atom of Carbon and Two Atoms of Hydrogen Convert to Oxygen?

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posted on Dec, 23 2006 @ 08:25 PM
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Consider me illiterate in many areas of science. Can this conversion occur by natural processes or human processes? Both or neither?




posted on Dec, 23 2006 @ 08:42 PM
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Short answer is no.

They cant just melt together, but if you have very high temperatures and/or pressure, it is possible to make out new elements; for instance oxygen. It happens in the sun I guess, and in controlled experiments where you bombard some atoms with other atoms.



posted on Dec, 23 2006 @ 08:49 PM
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Well, I would say "yes", but of course still under high pressure and temperatures.

All elements heavier than helium are thought to have been created either in the cores of stars (up to iron) or from the shockwaves of supernovae (any heavier element).



posted on Dec, 23 2006 @ 11:00 PM
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posted by GreatTech
Can this conversion occur by natural processes or human processes? Both or neither?


All living forms are composed of Carbon (6), Hydrogen (1), Nitrogen (7) and Oxygen (8). I am unfamiliar with any process available to humans where we can trans-mute any elements lower on the Periodic Table than iron (26) although I'm sure it is theoretically possible.

I'd say "No."



posted on Dec, 23 2006 @ 11:34 PM
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Originally posted by donwhite
I am unfamiliar with any process available to humans where we can trans-mute any elements lower on the Periodic Table than iron (26) although I'm sure it is theoretically possible.


Actually this is quite possible, even by humans. Hydrogen can be fused into helium in both thermonuclear weapons and experimental fusion reactors.

And what happens in stars to create the heavier elements is a natural process, so I'd include that too.



posted on Dec, 24 2006 @ 02:37 PM
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posted by djohnsto77

Actually this is quite possible, even by humans. Hydrogen can be fused into helium in both thermonuclear weapons and experimental fusion reactors.



I overlooked that.



posted on Dec, 24 2006 @ 02:46 PM
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Right, but can we fuse the product into oxygen? I know that in stars this happens frequently, otherwise we wouldn't have oxygen to begin with. I don't think humans can do it yet though, I could be wrong.



posted on Dec, 24 2006 @ 04:05 PM
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I'll go over the basics with you. Tell me anything you don't understand. (I'm not going into great depth right away, ask questions)

Everything we know is made up of molecules. What a molecule is determines its properties and how it reacts to other molecules. Say, a sugar, glucose.

Glucose looks like this: library.thinkquest.org...

You notice it's made up of letters connected by lines.

These letters represent atoms. C represents an atom of carbon. O represents an atom of oxygen. H represents an atom of hydrogen.
You'll see an "OH" there. That's just a way of writing an O connected to an H more easily. In other words, it's just an oxygen and a hydrogen connected but they didn't feel like drawing a line between them.

The lines represent bonds. The reason a molecule doesn't fall apart is because of chemical bonds. There are different kinds, but they all serve the same purpose: to hold an atom and another atom together.

A simpler diagram is one of water, or H2O: www.biologylessons.sdsu.edu...
Note how the two hydrogen atoms (H) are bonded to the oxygen atom (O).


We'll use the H2O to explain atoms. But first, I'll explain the basic subatomic particles.




There are two basic properties you need to understand to comprehend subatomic particles. Those are mass and charge.

Mass is basically how much matter there is. The easiest way to understand it is weight, though weight is actually what you get when gravity acts on mass. For now, though, you can think of something with more mass as "heavier" and something with less mass as "lighter."

Charge is a property that is less obvious than mass. When thinking of charge, think of magnets (and try not to think about electricity, that's a different thing entirely). There are positive charges and negative charges. Opposite charges (like a -1 and a 1) are attracted to eachother, like the north and south pole of a magnet. If something has a charge of 0, it is neutral, meaning no charge, and no electromagnetic effect on a charged particle.


For this, use this diagram as an aid while I explain: www.sciencebuddies.org...

There are two basic parts of the atom: the nucleus, and the electrons that orbit the nucleus (sort of like the Earth orbits the sun, in a way).

The nucleus is made up of protons (green in the diagram, with the + in the middle of them) and neutrons (red in the diagram).

The proton has a mass of 1 (1 atomic unit, don't worry about how this translates to something you use, like pounds or grams). It has a charge of positive 1 (+1)

The neutron has a mass of 1 as well, but a neutral charge of 0. That means it is as heavy as the proton, but without the charge.

Now the electrons orbiting it have almost no measurable mass. For all practical purposes, we can say they have a mass of roughly 0 (it isn't exactly 0, but when learning basic physics this negligible mass isn't important). However, it has a charge of negative (-1), which is exactly opposite to the charge of the proton. This is why the electron is such a strange particle to physicists: it has such a strong charge, just as strong as the proton (though negative, while the proton is positive), but it only has a tiny fraction of the proton's mass.

So now go back to the diagram. You see the electrons orbiting the protons and neutrons. The electrons don't fly away because they're attracted to the protons (why they don't crash into the proton is another thing, that's for later).

You should (or maybe not, I have no clue) be wondering: what makes a helium atom (He) a helium atom, a hydrogen atom (H) a hydrogen atom, and an oxygen atom (O) an oxygen atom?

The answer is the number of protons. An atom with one proton is hydrogen, two protons is helium, and so on. Oxygen has 8 protons.


Okay, that's it for now. This is a lot at once, so ask questions about everything you don't understand. Even ask them if you do, since I need to know where else to go.

[edit on 24-12-2006 by Johnmike]



posted on Dec, 24 2006 @ 04:35 PM
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Johnmike, thanks for the basics. Do you know of any patents for fusing lighter elements into heavier elements, or separating heavier elements into lighter elements? Naturally, an economic system of doing this would be awesome in potential for science & technology.



posted on Dec, 24 2006 @ 05:27 PM
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Basically, we can fuse and split atoms. It's called nuclear fusion (two atoms nuclei put together) or nuclear fission (one atom nucleus pulled apart).


First you need to understand radioactive decay.
en.wikipedia.org...

An isotope is something that is the same element but has a different number of protons. An isotope of helium would have two protons, like all helium does (or it wouldn't be helium), but maybe three neutrons instead of two.

Basically, the nucleus of each atom needs a certain ratio of protons to neutrons or it isn't stable. This will make it give off certain particles to turn into something more stable. This will be in the form of alpha particles, beta particles, or gamma rays. By doing this, it can actually turn into a different element. The number protons or neutrons (it varies by element and isotope) therefore reduces. If you're reducing the number of protons, you're getting another element as a result.


en.wikipedia.org...
This has a nice diagram:
upload.wikimedia.org...

Nuclear fission is what we use in everything so far, including nuclear power plants and warheads (though modern nukes have a fusion component too). What you're doing is smashing a heavy element with a lot of protons splitting it into two atoms of elements with less protons.


Now, nuclear fusion.
en.wikipedia.org...
The diagram:
upload.wikimedia.org...

This takes the nucleus an isotope of Hydrogen (1 proton) which has one neutron and another nucleus of an isotope of Hydrogen which has two neutrons, then smashes them together. This releases a massive amount of energy and is much safer than fission since it isn't as difficult to control. Your end products are energy, helium, and a neutron.

But there's a problem.

The nucleus of an atom is always positively charged. What do like charges do? Repel. They push away from one another. That's like taking two magnets and trying to push the north ends together.

To make this reaction happen, you need a MASSIVE amount of energy (heat). To make this reaction happen, you're using so much energy that any energy you get out of the reaction isn't enough to make it worthwhile. In other words, it's just not efficient. That's why cold fusion is so sought after: if we could make fusion happen without using so much energy, we'd have a nearly perfect energy source.

So basically, in fusion, you're making helium from two isotopes of hydrogen.


So you can make an element from another element(s), but it's not easy to do.



Again, this is just an outline, I'm recalling something I went over years ago, so ask about anything I missed and I'll look for it.

[edit on 24-12-2006 by Johnmike]



posted on Dec, 24 2006 @ 06:33 PM
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Johnmike, thanks for your reply. Is it easier to fuse lighter elements together (two atoms of hydrogen into helium) or heavier elements together (two atoms of nitrogen into silicon)? I would assume it would not be the latter do to the greater mass of the products. Has fusion only been accomplished with hydrogen?

A less scientific question: how secret is fusion and fission of elements (element conversion) in the USA and the world today? Certain "patents" I imagine would be banned from the USA and World Patent System for security purposes.



posted on Dec, 25 2006 @ 12:59 AM
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This is getting farther and farther from what I actually know, but my guess is that it's easier to fuse lighter elements. Since heaver elements have more protons, that means the nuclei of the heavier atoms have a stronger positive charge. Therefore the nuclei are harder to push close enough together for fusion to occur.

Now I'm no lawyer, I have no idea about any patents. You can't patent the entire process of fusion or fission, but you may be able to patent specific devices. I'm not sure.

Secret though? I think anyone can figure out how a fission reactor works. Hell, they even have diagrams of modern atomic warheads. Apparently fission is no secret since nuclear power plants pop up around the world. Fusion, no one really knows how to make it efficient, but I think there are experimental reactors. Don't take my word for it, though. Do some research, I'll do some too when it's not 2AM on Christmas Eve.



posted on Dec, 25 2006 @ 07:58 PM
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Originally posted by GreatTech
Johnmike, thanks for your reply. Is it easier to fuse lighter elements together (two atoms of hydrogen into helium) or heavier elements together (two atoms of nitrogen into silicon)? I would assume it would not be the latter do to the greater mass of the products. Has fusion only been accomplished with hydrogen?


Ordinarily it's done with heavier elements (if you're trying to make one of the trans-uranium elements.) There's little reason to create lighter elements since there are other ways of cheaply extracting them (oxygen can be produced in any number of ways). In the specific case of extracting oxygen, you use up a LOT more oxygen to make just one atom of oxygen by atom smashing (it takes fuel to run the atom-smashing machines, and that, of course, means consuming oxygen.)


A less scientific question: how secret is fusion and fission of elements (element conversion) in the USA and the world today?


It's not. It's basic physics. Like trying to keep the secret of "things falling thanks to gravity."


Certain "patents" I imagine would be banned from the USA and World Patent System for security purposes.

The only patents involving this would be for specific machines to do the work. Since particle accelerators are common in many countries of the world (at universities) and there are students from every nation working on them and around them (in many different countries; not just the US), the barriers to getting this technology are expense, import/export restrictions, and specific information about the process (what elements, what temperature, etc, etc.)



posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 01:30 PM
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You might be interested in this News story.


www.freep.com.../20061119/NEWS03/611190639



TEEN GOES NUCLEAR: He creates fusion in his Oakland Township home...In the basement of his parents' Oakland Township home, tucked away in an area most aren't privy to see, Thiago is exhausting his love of physics on a project that has taken him more than two years and 1,000 hours to research and build -- a large, intricate machine that , on a small scale, creates nuclear fusion.



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