The definition of a precious metal is the fact that it is rare. Gold worth has been significantly greater than that of silver or copper, two other metals extracted throughout history. Gold also has some incredible characteristics.
It does not tarnish, is very simple to work with, can be drawn into wire easily, hammered into very thin sheets, alloys with various metals, can be melted and cast into highly detailed forms, has a beautiful color and brilliant sheen.
All of these properties could be harnessed since ancient times, like today, just by heating gold nuggets at high temperatures and using simple tools like hammers or molds.
Gold has always been valuable to mankind and have a way to create gold from a worthless element would essentially be a infinity money hack. So it possible?
No, you can not turn anything into gold. Gold can not be manufactured by a series of chemical reactions. Chemical changes alter the number and form of electrons in an atom, but they do not affect the nucleus of the atom. You can only change the element’s atomic structure to that of gold by bombarding it with neutrons or other particles. This process is called nuclear transmutation and is only possible from certain elements close to gold on the periotic table of elements.
The chemical element gold (Au), has 79 protons in each nuclear nucleus. Every atom that contains 79 protons is a gold atom, and all gold atoms function in the same way chemically. We can, in theory, make gold by simply putting together 79 protons (and enough neutrons to ensure stability). Alternatively, we may remove one proton from mercury (which has 80) or add one proton to platinum (which has 78) to produce gold.
Can Gold be Created from Other Elements?
Yes, it is possible to create gold from another element. You would need a particle accelerator, a large amount of energy and a heavy metal like lead, mercury or bismuth. Even with this setup the microscopic output of gold you will achieve is hardly worth the price making this endeavor extremely unprofitable.
Gold Throughout History
All of these amazing properties have been harnessed for almost as long as modern man has been around. Just heating gold nuggets at very high temperatures and using crude tools hammers or molds have changed the course of history.
Because gold is highly memorable, it should not come as a surprise that it is primarily used in jewelry. For millennia, the magnificent metal’s gleaming sheen has allowed it to be fashioned into some of the world’s most coveted and fashionable jewelry. Fit kings and queens across the world.
Most of the gold that is newly acquired or reconditioned these days is utilized in jewelry. About 78% of the gold that becomes available each year is used for this purpose, as opposed to stored.
Because gold is highly valued and in limited supply, it has been used as a medium of exchange and money for thousands of years. The first known use of gold in business transactions dates back over 6000 years. Pieces of gold or silver were used in early trade. Because the rarity, usefulness, and desirability of gold make it a long-term valuable substance, it is.
Perhaps gold’s most important application to human beings wasn’t recognized until very recently, when its amazing electrical conductivity properties became known. Solid state electronic devices need low voltages and currents that are easily disrupted by corrosion or tarnish at the contact points, rendering them unreliable.
Gold is the most efficient conductor and can carry tiny currents, as a result, is free of corrosion; this is why electronics constructed with gold are highly dependable. In almost every sophisticated electronic gadget, a little amount of gold is employed. This includes cell phones, calculators, personal digital assistants, global positioning system devices, and other small electronic gadgets.
Is it possible to turn lead into gold? For hundreds of years, alchemists worked in their labs attempting to create a mythical substance known as the philosopher’s stone. The allegedly heavy, oily, crimson stuff was claimed to aid in the transformation of base metals such as lead into gold via chrysopoeia, the metamorphosis, or transmutation or base metals.
Alchemists have been mocked as pseudoscientific frauds throughout history, but they laid the groundwork for much of contemporary chemistry and medicine. The 16th and 17th-century alchemists developed new experimental techniques, medicines, and other chemical compounds, such as pigments.
Many of them, Lawrence Principe, a chemist and science historian at Johns Hopkins University notes, were “surprisingly outstanding experimentalists.” “Any contemporary chemistry professor would be delighted to hire some of these guys as lab assistants,” he adds. Robert Boyle, one of the founders of modern chemistry who was born in Ireland; pioneering Swiss-born physician Paracelsus; and English physicist Isaac Newton are among the alchemists on their roster.
Despite the alchemists’ intellectual power and experimental skill, the philosopher’s stone was eternally out of reach. The difficulty is that the alchemists did not yet realize that lead and gold were distinct atomic elements—the periodic table would not be created for another hundred years. The alchemists pursued the this dream in an effort to no avail, thinking them to be mixtures rather than two separate substances.
How to Create Gold From Other Elements
With the advent of the atomic age in the 20th century, transmutation of elements became feasible. Nuclear physicists now frequently convert one element to another. Finally gold can be synthetically made in a laboratory from heavy metals like mercury and lead. This artificial gold created from a particle accelerator is radioactive and extremely cost prohibitive.
In commercial nuclear reactors, uranium atoms are split apart, releasing smaller nuclei of elements such as xenon and strontium as well as heat that can be used to produce power. Heavy isotopes of hydrogen combine in experimental fusion reactors to form helium.
Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California were able to create very small quantities of gold from bismuth, a metallic element adjacent to lead on the periodic table, more than 30 years ago.
Lead, too, can be used for this process. However, isolating the gold at the end of the reaction would be considerably more difficult, according to David J. Morrissey of Michigan State University, one of the scientists who did the study. “We chose bismuth since it has only one stable form,” says Morrissey.
The element’s uniformity makes it simpler to remove gold from bismuth than it is to separate gold from lead, which has four distinct stable isotopic forms.
Morrissey and his colleagues accelerated beams of carbon and neon nuclei to nearly light speed using the LBNL’s Bevalac particle accelerator before colliding them with bismuth foils. When a fast nuclear in the beam collided with a bismuth atom, it sheared off part of the bismuth nucleus, leaving behind a somewhat reduced atom.
The team discovered a variety of transmuted atoms in which four protons had been removed from a bismuth atom to generate gold by sifting through the particle rubble. The collision-induced reactions had removed anywhere from six to 15 neutrons, giving a range of gold isotopes ranging from gold 190 (79 protons, 111 neutrons) to gold 199 (79 protons, 120 neutrons), according to researchers reporting in the March 1981 issue of Physical Review C.
The quantity of gold generated was so little that Morrissey and his colleagues had to identify it by detecting the radiation given off by unstable gold nuclei as they decayed throughout a year.
The researchers were unable to demonstrate the presence of some stable isotope gold 197—the substance of wedding bands and gold bullion—as a result of the particle collisions, as it does not decay.
Although lead is not a viable option for isolating the tiniest quantities of gold, smashing high-speed nuclei into a lead target would indeed complete the long-sought transmutation.
Running particle beams through the Bevalac cost around $5,000 an hour in 1980, according to Loveland. “And we probably used about a day of beam time,” he adds.
Glenn Seaborg, who was part of the 1951 Nobel Prize-winning team for his research on heavy elements and who died in 1999, was the senior author on a study that revealed how to create gold. “It would cost more than one quadrillion dollars per ounce to produce gold by this procedure,” Seaborg told the Associated Press. The going rate for an ounce of gold at that time? About $560.
Gold is not something that can be created from other elements like mercury or lead easily. It requires a complex process with very specific conditions. Even then, the amount of artificial gold that can be produced is minuscule compared to the amount that already exists. It’s just not practical in any sense and therefore, it is unlikely that gold will ever be created from other elements on a large scale. Much to the chagrin of alchemists everywhere and throughout time.