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Thread: How close are we to creating gold?

  1. #1 How close are we to creating gold? 
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    Hello all,

    I am from The Netherlands and I have little faith in the future of the Euro. I want to start investing in gold (or silver). It is scarce and has been throughout the history of mankind. However, I am amazed at the speed at which we come to understand the universe and become capable of crazy yet astounding feats. If I remember correctly, gold is formed inside stars and is scattered throughout the universe when they die. I'm not entirely sure if this information is correct. Sounds hard to duplicate, but considering the scientific progress during just the last 100 years (especially in nuclear science) I think it should be considered when starting to invest in gold. Obviously if we were able to create gold in large amounts, its value would drop tremendously, making any investment in it a complete waste of money.

    So my question is this: Do you think that mankind will be able to manipulate atoms in ways that will let us transform them into different elements? Within my lifetime, I mean.


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    Nicolas Flamel would be proud.


    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Nicolas Flamel would be proud.
    He would cry "witch" and have me burned at the stake.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aqua Amano View Post
    So my question is this: Do you think that mankind will be able to manipulate atoms in ways that will let us transform them into different elements? Within my lifetime, I mean.
    Yes, we can form helium out of tritium and deuterium, or out of deuterium solely (fusion reactor). We can form iodine from xenon, we can form lead by waiting while holding plutonium. Still no, we can not form gold. At least not in the quantities you want.

    Let me put it differently. In a cyclotron we can create many different elements. It's just, in these collectors, there are merely trace amounts. In 1000 years in a cyclotron, at this rate, at maximum production, i bet, under ideal circomstances you could be able to create a gram of gold, at the cost of about 100 Billion in energy, taken that the energy price won't go up or down. Sorry, but that would be the most expensive necklace i ever bought..

    Hope i answered it a little better then Flick,
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  6. #5  
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    Gold can be manufactured from mercury in a particle accelerator or within a nuclear reactor - the cost is many times that of natural gold.
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    By the time we can synthesize commercially useful quantities of gold in this way, we will have free energy and a post-economic society, rather like Ian Bank's Culture novels.
    JoshuaL likes this.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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  8. #7  
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    Thanks everybody... guess I'm good to go. Hopefully by the time we can do this there won't be a need for investments because everybody will have high living standards. I would love to see a post-economic society although I don't see it happening in my liftetime, or in the couple of generations that comes after that for that matter. Might have too pick up that book you mentioned, it's a very interestingn subject to me.
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  9. #8  
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    The search for a way to make gold has long been the holy grail of alchemy, alchemists have been trying 'unsuccessfully' I might add to find a way to make gold from metals such as lead and iron. From the early 18th century onwards this alchemists dream was no longer even thought possible by the serious scientists of the day, though that said it should be noted that alchemists claiming to have made gold were being exposed as frauds as far back as the 14th century.

    The simple truth is though it is quite possible to actually 'make' gold. Though it should be noted, just like a previous poster has said the process is neither cheap or easy. Gold can be made through a process of transmutation, similar to the nuclear process which occurs within the heart of a star and is responsible for creating the rest of natural elements we see around us.

    In simple terms transmutation is the conversion of one chemical element or isotope into another, all transmutation is caused either by radioactive decay or nuclear reaction and to make gold we need 79 protons, 118 neutrons & 79 electrons and this is where the alchemists were on the right track because the easiest elements to use to for the transmutation are either lead or mercury.

    Of course one of the drawbacks of creating gold through nuclear reaction can be extreme radioactivity, I remember seeing something a while back about how some of the shielding of a nuclear reactor had been transformed into gold, but that gold would then be so radioactive that to touch it may deliver a fatal dose of radiation!
    Last edited by Ascended; September 26th, 2012 at 07:00 PM. Reason: corrected mistake
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  10. #9  
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    That's what I thought, we've been able to replicate some of the conditions that are found in stars, and since gold is formed inside stars this lead me to question whether or not gold is still a safe investment.
    Is there a way to remove radiation from an object?

    ps: I think it's pretty damn cool that we've actually been able to transform matter into gold, no matter how small the quantities or how high the costs. Who knows what we'll be able to do in say, 100 years.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aqua Amano View Post
    That's what I thought, we've been able to replicate some of the conditions that are found in stars, and since gold is formed inside stars this lead me to question whether or not gold is still a safe investment.
    Is there a way to remove radiation from an object?

    ps: I think it's pretty damn cool that we've actually been able to transform matter into gold, no matter how small the quantities or how high the costs. Who knows what we'll be able to do in say, 100 years.
    Hi Aqua, I don't want to give the impression that all man made gold is radioactive, because that's certainly not the case. Your question "Is there a way to remove radiation from an object?" Essentially not that I know of, only time can stop something being radioactive at least as far as I'm aware of, this however should not be confused with radioactive decontamination which involved the removal of radioactive substances from a person or an object.

    Your other question "whether or not gold is still a safe investment", this is somewhat more complicated. Any type of investment has risks attached, but that said there are benefits as well. With gold it's a supply and demand issue balanced against the cost of extraction, there is still plenty of gold in the ground and rivers but it's costly to get at. Also you have to consider it against other investments that may generate more revenue and also inflation. Most people tend to believe gold is a safe investment at the moment. Though again that said if you'd have listened to Warren Buffet a few years ago and invested in silver you'd now be laughing as that has seen a 10 fold price increase in recent years.
    Last edited by Ascended; September 27th, 2012 at 10:07 AM. Reason: missed word out
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisgorlitz View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Aqua Amano View Post
    That's what I thought, we've been able to replicate some of the conditions that are found in stars, and since gold is formed inside stars this lead me to question whether or not gold is still a safe investment.
    Is there a way to remove radiation from an object?

    ps: I think it's pretty damn cool that we've actually been able to transform matter into gold, no matter how small the quantities or how high the costs. Who knows what we'll be able to do in say, 100 years.
    Hi Aqua, I don't want to give the impression that all man made gold is radioactive, because that's certainly not the case. Your question "Is there a way to remove radiation from an object?" Essentially not that I know of, only time can stop something being radioactive at least as far as I'm aware of, this however should not be confused with radioactive decontamination which involved the removal of radioactive substances from a person or an object.

    Your other question "whether or not gold is still a safe investment", this is somewhat more complicated. Any type of investment has risks attached, but that said there are benefits as well. With gold it's a supply and demand issue balanced against the cost of extraction, there is still plenty of gold in the ground and rivers but it's costly to get at. Also you have to consider it against other investments that may generate more revenue and also inflation. Most people tend to believe gold is a safe investment at the moment. Though again that said if you'd listened to Warren Buffet a few years ago and invested in silver you'd now be laughing as that has seen a 20 fold price increase in recent years.
    I think gold is still a safe investment, especially considering my goals. My goal is not neccessarily to make loads of money, I wouldn't even be disappointed with slight losses. I'm just looking to protect myself from a potential fall of the Euro. I would rather keep what little savings I have in tangible objects that have throughout history always been valuable, than in pieces of paper or digital currency that are very unstable. I believe the Euro is not going to last, I think it was a failed experiment that we're now stuck with. I think we'd be fine if we went back to our previous system of many different (competing) currencies in Europe, but I also think they're not going to give up on the Euro until it fails dramatically. It has given lots of power to people in the central European government, and history has shown that once people have aquired power, they'll do pretty much anything to keep it.
    This is also somewhat a matter of principle. As you may have noticed, I'm a huge skeptic of centralized power and the Euro is a prime example of that. I also distrust banks and would rather not give them my money. Unfortunately gold is often extracted from the ground through lots of bloodshed and more often than not, the profits from it are made by Westeners rather than the local population.
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  13. #12  
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    We are probarbly going a little off topic here and could maybe discuss this more in the business section, but yes I certainly agree with you about the Euro and have said as much myself. I think the only reason it's lasted this long is because of the German government. It's making them somewhat unpopular and I can't see German tax payers putting up with it forever, so unless they stop supporting the Euro, and also stop pressuring the ECB, I think they are going to get voted out anyway. Without German support I think there will be several countries only to happy to ditch the Euro. So you could well be right and can start planning for the return of the Guilder.
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  14. #13  
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    I agree 100%... neither the Germans, the Greeks, the Spaniards or anyone else is going to accept this situation indefinately.
    But yeah we're going off topic so I'll just leave it at this. All your help is much appreciated and I'll just leave you one little video of something that happened today before I sign off.
    'Surround Congress' Madrid clashes: Dramatic footage of night violence in Spain - YouTube

    Peace!
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  15. #14  
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    Chris, just curious about one point. You mentioned using lead or iron to create gold, but I thought we'd only used mercury so far. Is that not correct? I know nothing of these pursuits and merely read a blip on wikipedia: Synthesis of precious metals - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshuaL View Post
    Chris, just curious about one point. You mentioned using lead or iron to create gold, but I thought we'd only used mercury so far. Is that not correct? I know nothing of these pursuits and merely read a blip on wikipedia: Synthesis of precious metals - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    No probs, see: Nuclear transmutation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The web page you quoted is interesting in giving factual details about some of the processes currently being employed to make gold however it is slightly misleading in a couple of lines such as: "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."

    This can read like we can only change mercury into Gold, which is factually incorrect. The following is from the page I linked:
    "It transpired that, under true nuclear transmutation, it is far easier to turn gold into lead than the reverse reaction, which was the one the alchemists had ardently pursued. Nuclear experiments have successfully transmuted lead into gold, but the expense far exceeds any gain.[6] It would be easier to convert gold into lead via neutron capture and beta decay by leaving gold in a nuclear reactor for a long period of time."

    P.S good spot that should have read: lead or mercury, I've corrected it.
    Last edited by Ascended; September 26th, 2012 at 07:08 PM. Reason: extra info
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    Ah, I see. Apparently easier to turn gold into lead than the other way round. And presumably, though not explicitly stated in this article, it is easier to turn mercury into gold than it is to turn lead into gold (with our current methods, at least).
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  18. #17  
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    I am confident in both Gold and Silver as long-term investments. Silver moreso than Gold. I have heard that Silver is rising in value faster than gold is. Having said that, I am no expert, it is merely what I have heard. I would strongly encourage doing some research on how to properly store/care for bullion - as improper care can lead to considerable losses.
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  19. #18  
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    Always diversify your investments.
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    I would strongly encourage doing some research on how to properly store/care for bullion - as improper care can lead to considerable losses.
    What on earth could possibly "lead to considerable losses" in storing bullion? Mice, moths and mould might ruin your art works or your stamp collection, but they can't do anything to bullion.

    Short of lining up your ingots on steel tracks and letting trains pulverise them, I can't imagine any way of storing bullion that might lead to any loss at all. (Leaving security against theft out of the question.)
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    Adelady is referring (I assume) to the fact that gold it's an inert metal and doesn't oxidize like other metals. I imagine you could intentionally destroy the gold by some chemical means, but otherwise there isn't much to worry about. Chemists, please post if you know otherwise.
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    Silver bullion coins can have a tendancy to turn green if not looked after properly, though this is unlikely to affect the silver contents raw metal value it can still be off putting to future investors when trying to sell said bullion coins, so you could lose money by having to drop your asking price in order to shift them.
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  23. #22  
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    Thought this might be relevant: Wizardly bacteria transmute liquid gold into a solid.
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  24. #23  
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    Silver bullion coins can have a tendancy to turn green
    Silver coins contain some copper - that's what turns green. Pure silver exposed to air turns black.

    The easiest way to stop any silver from tarnishing, green or black, is to store it with some chalk to keep it dry. There are also cloths and pouches impregnated with chalk and silver cleaning chemicals that you can wrap items in to protect from air and moisture.
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  25. #24  
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    Good advice there on silver storage. One of advantages of gold is generally speaking is it doesn't tarnish so not much to worry about there.
    Probarbly a contributory factor in why man has had such a love affair with gold for so long, I wouldn't no be suprised if man has almost genetic predisposition towards gold, considering how much of our history has been spent idolising it.
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    I would strongly encourage doing some research on how to properly store/care for bullion - as improper care can lead to considerable losses.
    What on earth could possibly "lead to considerable losses" in storing bullion? Mice, moths and mould might ruin your art works or your stamp collection, but they can't do anything to bullion.

    Short of lining up your ingots on steel tracks and letting trains pulverise them, I can't imagine any way of storing bullion that might lead to any loss at all. (Leaving security against theft out of the question.)
    Depends on where you keep it, and bullion form. Under the right circumstances a house fire can burn hot enough to ruin your investment - if not in a 'fireproof' safe. If you've invested in coin form bullion, the condition of the coin can affect the coin's value. Numismatic value also plays a role. But yes, a bar of gold will more-or-less maintain its value regardless of its condition.
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  27. #26 Gold question 
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    To answer your question on whether we can make gold in the lab and devaluate already existing gold reserves I propose this answer. Yes, we can make gold in the lab , but it is very inefficient. Cost more to make than it is worth. Since we are able to make gold it is necessary to make this process efficient because it is not sufficient to make the gold if the process in not efficient. Therefore, making the gold efficiently is necessary and sufficient to devaluate gold reserves. Which is not the case at the present moment and in the near future, so I would suggest buying gold as opposed to investing your money into someone's "big idea" that has something to do with a gold making machine.
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  28. #27  
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    Yes, as others have said gold has been manufactured at many times the present cost of natural gold, and to my recollection was that the new gold created was also radio active, not too good
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