(ORDO NEWS) — The ancient alchemists believed in the transmutation of the elements and tried to make gold from mercury or lead. They failed, but today we have nuclear reactors at our disposal. Has alchemy become a reality?
Today, alchemists’ fantasies of turning mercury or lead into gold have become a reality. But how cost effective is it?
Modern chemistry started in part because people wanted to get rich. Kings and emperors were willing to pay good money to get even more money.
Alchemists claimed to be able to create gold, which was considered a very rare and expensive metal, from lead, which was very common. The experiments of medieval scientists were unsuccessful, but today lead can be turned into gold.
When neutrons collide with lead atoms, a neutron can knock out protons from it, turning its nuclei into gold. In the case of lead, it is necessary to deprive the nucleus of three protons, and with mercury, only one.
Neutrons colliding with atoms of lead or mercury can be created in a particle accelerator and bombarded with a target of the desired atoms.
There is only one problem – the process itself is more expensive than the resulting gold. Of course, it can be made cheaper by increasing the size of the target, but modern accelerators can accommodate a strictly limited amount of matter. You can only generate a few grams of gold, but at what cost?
The reason why gold is so in demand in today’s economy is because it retains its value very well. This metal is often considered a “safe” investment, especially during economic downturns and crises. Although lately there has been talk that the value of gold may be in question.
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