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Transmutation, anyone?

  1. Mar 30, 2003 #1


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    Has anyone thought of a mechanism enhancing the disintigration rates of α-decay?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 3, 2003 #2


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    Interested in alchemy?! You might want to check out the last excellent work by Dennis W. Hauck which suggests quite an intriguing -even though not exactly 'scientific'- perspective on the subject.

    Beside that I guess the only way you can enhance such a process would be by going to 'talk' to the nuclei. Hence we either find a way to deform the inner electron shell or we have to create something 'seen' mostly by the nucleus.

    To put it slightly better to enhance the rate we have to adjust the nuclear potential barrier to increase transmission through it. We either lower it or make it thinner.

    Since alpha-emitting nuclei are pretty heavy to hope to get to achieve any significant inner shell polarization, my only idea would be to use one of those very high power density lasers, little energy ultra short pulses... or it might even be possible to tune a laser to excite some kind of diffusion from the inner shell only.

    For now this is it. What about your ideas?
  4. Apr 4, 2003 #3


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    Not a concrete idea, really. Last year I noticed that the most popular transmutation between alchemists, those of Hg to Au, is actually exotermic. It goes Hg201->Pt197+Alpha->Au197+beta. But the mean life dor this to happen is as long as the life of the universe, according common model of alpha disintegration.

    The alpha in Hg201 is just above E=0, thus deep under the barrier. So I guess that a perturbation of the barrier does not help a lot (BTW, the maximum enhancement with this method is recorded about 15-20% in very deformed atoms).

    Perhaps it could be possible to take advantage of the near-threshold status of this alpha and to induce some resonance mechanism. I have never seen such beast, but who knows.

    Who is Dennis Hauck? Url do u have 4 it?
  5. Apr 4, 2003 #4


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    Well I have not read much about modern alchemy but mostly works trying to bridge experiments and philosophy underlying the discipline.

    By the way, one of the things that is apparent in the field is the role of very long periods at high temperature, something you never really do in ordinary chemistry, these days nobody works on experiments that encompass ten days or even months of heating for the sample. This is pretty much equivalent to say that our scientific laws sometimes do not have data for very slow processes - a low-frequency cut-off. In this respect it is really interesting to think of the famous 1/f noise as involved in the alchemical processes.

    The other aspect of alchemical work is that it seems (see below about Hauck) that who perform the experiment is an integral component of the experiment: this is not a new concept at all as we know in QM, but even in classical physics not everybody is able to have their experiments working... and maybe there is more about this than simply not being fit for experimental work...

    Well it was just an improvised guess, I am happy enough with a 15-20% for now. What is worth to remember is that even though the binding energies of nuclei are enormous, there are very low energy processes (thermal neutron bombardment) that make them incredibly unstable: when Fermi started bombarding uranium nuclei, nobody expected he would actually be able to break them into two big chunks... Thinking of nuclei as heavily charged liquid droplet helped a lot in those days

    Well my knowledge of resonance processes in high energy physics is quite poor and even poorer for nuclear physics so... If you are referring to some mechanism by which our alpha is able to collect more and more energy by some oscillating source something like a multiphoton process still ultrashort laser pulses would be my choice... nevertheless I do not see how being near-theresold plays a role...
    Or are you thinking to create a lot of these alpha states inside a nucleus? Promoting a lot of nucleons to bind into an alpha state would create some instability?

    Dennis Hauck (www.alchemylab.com) is an Austrian guy (now leaving in California) who has done plenty of research on alchemical science and his conclusion is that it was a science where the observer/alchemist was influencing the results of the experiment so deeply that the experiment outcome were actually portraying the status of the observer, something he likes to call his level of consciousness or evolution. A perfectly reasonable quantum mechanic possibility, only the experiment is observing the experimenter and not viceversa... Even though this might sound lot like phylosophy (and partly is) the guy casts a lot of light on experimental alchemy too and more important on the key to read the heavily symbolic language present in ancient texts. If you are used to 'understand' by a logic, detail-oriented, left brain approach this might just seem 'bull****' but if you complement this point of view with an analogy-based, synthetic, right brain approach, there are a lot of pieces of the puzzle that you can start putting together, a bigger picture come together that will sound intuitevely appealing; even though still hard to put down into equations it can be an excellent research guiding tool.
  6. Apr 4, 2003 #5


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    Pfff, of course there is a transmutation in the spirit of the alchemist... but it is not specific to alchemy, it happens in physics, in mathematics, in biology, hey, even in zoology!

    I am afraid most of these guys use the spiritual stuff in order to
    • Explain lack of repeatability.
    • Avoid to do actual laboratory work.

    Going back to the &alpha;, I must confess I have tryed to calculate both approaches... either to add more cold alpha particles looking for some effect, or also to attach an oscillating source... not to get more energy, but to pump the alpha inside and outside the potential well. In principle for Hg201 the level is so low that it is possible to put it inside E<0 and then again out to E>0 with only an small perturbation. In any case, I did not get to progress across the calculation.

    Yep, external radiation, neutrons or so, could be used but it seems not very pretty. Some people says that the ancients found uranium casually. Well, it could be, as the main source was Joachimstahl, near Praga, a town crowded of alchemists. But most of the modern practicioners (and they are) believe it is a kind of solid-state efect, very much as Schwinger(?) proposals ten years ago in the "pseudofield" of cold fusion.

    In any case the problem about adding energy is the same that in a nuclear reactor: if the alpha goes above the barrier it is going to be hot, so you need some kind of moderation. Tricky.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2003
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