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Thread: This question is stuck in my head! I want it out!!!

  1. #1 This question is stuck in my head! I want it out!!! 
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    Hello, I do a lot of pondering, and I came across something that seems to bug me! I'm a big fan of documentaries, and I recently watched one about the end of the universe. Well the part where they talked about their eventually not being enough hydrogen to make new starts I thought; is there a way to separate one proton, neutron, and electron from a Helium atom to make Hydrogen again? So basically can we take heavier elements, and make them into lighter elements? Maybe with future technology? And what kind of technology would we need?


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    Quote Originally Posted by MindlessMath View Post
    Hello, I do a lot of pondering, and I came across something that seems to bug me! I'm a big fan of documentaries, and I recently watched one about the end of the universe. Well the part where they talked about their eventually not being enough hydrogen to make new starts I thought; is there a way to separate one proton, neutron, and electron from a Helium atom to make Hydrogen again? So basically can we take heavier elements, and make them into lighter elements? Maybe with future technology? And what kind of technology would we need?
    If you take a neutron as well as a proton you will get deuterium rather than hydrogen.

    This is physics rather than chemistry, but if you were able to do this it would be an uphill process energetically speaking, i.e. you would need to put energy in to get it to occur. So the fundamental question would be where this energy would come from. I rather think what I am saying is a long-winded way of answering "no" to your question.


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    I meant take two neutrons also! Haha, sorry... And I think I get what you are saying, but could you do some further explaining?
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    Hydrogen is really just a proton and an electron. Pretty basic particles. Maybe the question to ask is about how energy condenses into matter.

    Anyhow I don't have a definitive answer but I suspect it would have something to do with particle pair creation from the quantum vacuum near black hole event horizons.
    I think Hawking describes a process of black hole particle creation.
    Hawking : Particle creation by black holes
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Stars are not 100% efficient when burning hydrogen, so it is thought that there will still be some hydrogen around, but it won't be in the right form (dense gaseous clouds) for star formation. But eventually, the Universe will get to where no new stars are formed.

    As for manufacturing sufficient hydrogen to make stars... er, yeah: 2 x 1030 kg.
    Just over one thousand Jupiters.
    We'd expend more energy making a Sun than we'd get out of it. Probably easier to make direct use of that energy 1.


    1 In 2006 the US manufactured 11 million tonnes (about 0.00000000000000000000055% of a Sun), in a $100 BILLION dollar industry. (Although I don't know if that $100B was direct costs, if it is that means that making 1 Sun would cost us $2 x 1034: about 2.5 x 1020 the GNP of the entire Earth for 2006 [the latest figure I can find]).
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    As for manufacturing sufficient hydrogen to make stars... er, yeah: 2 x 1030 kg.
    Just over one thousand Jupiters.
    We'd expend more energy making a Sun than we'd get out of it. Probably easier to make direct use of that energy 1.


    1 In 2006 the US manufactured 11 million tonnes (about 0.00000000000000000000055% of a Sun), in a $100 BILLION dollar industry. (Although I don't know if that $100B was direct costs, if it is that means that making 1 Sun would cost us $2 x 1034: about 2.5 x 1020 the GNP of the entire Earth for 2006 [the latest figure I can find]).
    I never thought about if it'd be worth it, and thanks for giving me a general idea of what it'd cost.
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