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Don't assume that 'if xyz were true people would be making money from it, therefore it can't be true'. If it interests you, run the experiment.
Originally posted by kai22
I've recently being doing a Process Technician course which involves basic physics, and it's brought a few questions to mind. Hopefully someone here can answer them?
They've all come from me reading somewhere that the lead lining on the wall of a nuclear reactor can transmute to gold due to the intense heat and pressures involved. If I remember rightly, it's not pure gold that's created, but is that due to contaminants in the gold or is it because it's a different isotope of gold?
Obviously an efficient and cost effective way of turning lead to gold has been an alchemical holy grail for years, but I also wonder if there where other metals that might be easier?
For example, Gold has an atomic number (AN) of 79 and an atomic mass (AM) of 197, so would it be possible to fuse say copper atoms (AN 29 AM 63.5) with tin atoms (AN 50 AM 118.7) to create an isotope of gold that would have an AN of 79 (same as gold) but an AM of 182.2 - 14.8 less than a standard gold atom?
Finally, getting back to "worthless metal to precious metal", has it ever heard of for someone to try to achieve the same goal with, maybe, tin to silver? These are directly above their counterparts in the periodic table...
Anyhoo, thanks for reading, hope someone can help
Gold was synthesized from mercury by neutron bombardment in 1941, but the isotopes of gold produced were all radioactive. In 1924, a Japanese physicist, Hantaro Nagaoka, accomplished the same feat.
Gold can currently be manufactured in a nuclear reactor by irradiation either of platinum or mercury.
Only the mercury isotope 196Hg, which occurs with a frequency of 0.15% in natural mercury, can be converted to gold by neutron capture, and following electron capture-decay into 197Au with slow neutrons. Other mercury isotopes are converted when irradiated with slow neutrons into one another or formed mercury isotopes, which beta decay into thallium.
Using fast neutrons, the mercury isotope 198Hg, which composes 9.97% of natural mercury, can be converted by splitting off a neutron and becoming 197Hg, which then disintegrates to stable gold. This reaction, however, possesses a smaller activation cross-section and is feasible only with un-moderated reactors.
It is also possible to eject several neutrons with very high energy into the other mercury isotopes in order to form 197Hg. However such high-energy neutrons can be produced only by particle accelerators.[clarification needed].