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Why can't scientists make Gold?

  1. Jun 11, 2012 #1
    With all the scientific and technological capabilities we have, why can't scientists make Gold? If all elements came from just a few elements early on in the big bang, why can't we simulate it somehow? Is it that we can, but its just not cost effective to mass market it and drive down the price of Gold (i.e., it costs more to make the gold than its worth)? Or is it just not possible to create a primary element? And lastly, do experts think we will be able to one day?

    Thanks, Eric
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2012 #2
    Elements can be transmuted but it's far more expensive than mining.
  4. Jun 11, 2012 #3


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    And they may be radioactive for a while.
  5. Jun 11, 2012 #4
    Thanks for the quick reply Antiphon
  6. Jun 12, 2012 #5
    Making Gold would be a nuclear reaction - that means massive energy in a supercollider to produce just a few atoms. It wouldn't be worth it.

    To date, the only nuclear reactions that we CAN make practical use of are special cases; like atoms that are on the verge of falling apart on their own (uranium and thorium), or something simple with no need of control, like a hydrogen bomb. We are a long way from manipulating stable atoms in any visible quantity.
  7. Jun 12, 2012 #6


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    Actually, a hydrogen bomb it takes a very lot of control -- without it, either the hydrogen would be blown away or the conditions wouldn't be right to trigger fusion or sustain a reaction.
  8. Jun 12, 2012 #7
    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.

    It may be possible to create gold in significant quantities in the environment of a fisson and/or fusion explosion (such as a bomb), i.e. in an environment with lots of fast neutrons, in a fast fission reactor or in the fusion reactors that are being prototyped now, such as the ICF and tokamak approaches.
  9. Jun 12, 2012 #8
    True. I meant that once the fusion starts happening there is no real control of what it does. This is compared to creating electricity from a stable fusion reaction - that is much harder.
  10. Jun 14, 2012 #9
    It's possible but nobody would invest in it since mining is a much cheaper and tension on an international scale regarding use of nuclear energy is sky-high.
  11. Jun 16, 2012 #10
    According to the law of conservation... Matters can't be created nor destroyed...
  12. Jun 16, 2012 #11


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    That is not correct. Matter is created and destroyed all the time (the hydrogen bomb is a pretty spectacular example). it is energy that is conserved, and since E=mc^2 matter can be created/destroyed while still preserving energy.
  13. Jun 16, 2012 #12
  14. Jun 17, 2012 #13
    The yield is just really really really bad. Glenn Seaborg actually transmuted bismuth into gold once effectively putting an end to the ancient quest of alchemy.
  15. Jun 17, 2012 #14
  16. Jun 17, 2012 #15
    The "m" stands for mass, not matter. You can't take particles and blink them out of existence (not without creating other particles) to create energy. Matter is most definitely not ever destroyed, even in a hydrogen bomb.
  17. Jun 17, 2012 #16
    Apparently, the term matter in the English language is reserved for particles possessing rest mass and occupying space, i.e. massive fermions. By this criterion, photons are not matter. Therefore, the processes of matter-antimatter annihilation really do destroy matter.
  18. Jun 17, 2012 #17
    If thats the definition you want to use, then yeah. But the fission-fusion process that occurs with a hydrogen bomb is not matter-antimatter annihilation.
  19. Jun 17, 2012 #18
    What is your measure for "the quantity of matter"?
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