U.S. Alchemists Make Gold (Mar, 1948)

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U.S. Alchemists Make Gold

Applying atomic magic to aid medicine and research, radiochemists duplicate nature’s elements and create new ones.

By Alden P. Armagnac

AT Oak Ridge, Tenn., the United States Atomic Energy Commission has gone into the business of manufacturing synthetic gold. The atomic pile is the Philosopher’s Stone, long sought by the ancient alchemists, which has the 24-carat touch.

Most curious part of the new enterprise is the odd behavior of the man-made gold. Though locked in the strongest vault, most of it would disappear within a week’s time.

Strange to say, this extraordinary way of acting actually enhances the gold’s value. What makes it so desirable is the fact that it is radioactive. Hence the ray-emitting “radio-gold” offers medical men a priceless tool for treating such maladies as leukemia, lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease. At one institution alone, Vanderbilt University Medical School in Nashville, Tenn., it has benefited 61 patients in the first year of use.

For therapy and for “tagging” chemicals used in research, Oak Ridge’s alchemists—or “radiochemists,” as they call themselves— produce scores of artificially radioactive elements like radiogold. But they are by no means limited to “freak” products that have no counterpart in nature.

Just as easily, they can manufacture gold of normal behavior, perfectly acceptable to the U. S. Treasury! It may not be the best way to get rich quick—the raw material, as for radiogold, is platinum—but the fact that it has been done illustrates their prowess in transmuting the elements. If future generals and geologists worry no longer about strategic materials and dwindling natural resources because alchemists can make any wanted element from others, it will be hardly more fantastic than what has already been accomplished.

Behind the scientists’ amazing feats with cyclotrons and atomic piles lies a new understanding of the make-up of matter.

Chemists once believed that ninety-odd substances such as hydrogen and oxygen, called elements, were the ingredients of every material you could name—air, water, flesh, blood. All the atoms of each element, they thought, were just alike.

Varieties of Elements Discovered

Now the list of the world’s ingredients has been multiplied many times by the discovery that these elements have important varieties, called isotopes. More than 700 different isotopes are known today. Those of the same element give the same chemical reactions in a test tube, but they differ in weight and in more spectacular ways. You can safely handle any amount of uranium 238, one of the isotopes of uranium. Merely bring together something less than 220 pounds of another, uranium 235, and its spontaneous explosion will level a city. Some isotopes are stable. Others, even of normally well-behaved elements like iron and sulphur, may turn into something else while your back is turned!

Resembling a gigantic crossword puzzle, a remarkable “isotope chart” recently compiled by Prof. Emilio Segre, of the University of California, graphically illustrates the new idea of what things are made of. Rows and columns of squares form a pattern ascending diagonally from left to right. Horizontally, the chart ranges in order the 96 elements now known. Vertically, it shows all known isotopes of each element. Some squares even have double entries for “twin” isotopes having the same weight but different radioactive life. Counting these, the 720 filled-in squares have 785 entries in all. It looks pretty complicated, until you notice the beautifully simple relationship that the new chart reveals. Just two kinds of particles, it shows, make up every one of the 785 varieties and subvarieties of elements. One is the proton, the positively charged core of the hydrogen atom, discovered in 1886. The other is the neutron, an electrically neutral particle, discovered in 1932. These two particles are the true building blocks of the universe.

Join the right number of protons and neutrons to make the core or nucleus of an atom—a neat trick if you can do it—and you will have any isotope of any element you want. The number of protons determines what the element will be. One proton makes hydrogen, two make helium, and so on up to 96 for newly discovered curium. The total number of particles, protons plus neutrons, determines what isotope you will get. This is the number, therefore, that you write after the name of an element to identify a particular isotope. It’s all as simple as that.

To apply this idea and perform a bit of alchemy, you need only walk near an operating cyclotron with a little loose change in your pocket. For a while afterward, all your dimes and quarters will be radioactive enough to make a Geiger counter click. Subsequently, they’ll contain a trace of cadmium metal that the U. S. Mint never put there.

What has happened? An atom of silver in the coin—say silver 107, which has 47 protons and 60 neutrons—picks up another neutron from the cyclotron. The result is silver 108, the isotope that contains one more neutron than silver 107. It is radioactive and emits a negative electron, or beta ray. As it does so, one of its neutrons turns into a proton. It therefore becomes cadmium, the element that has one more proton than silver; and the isotope is cadmium 108, which is stable.

Wizards of Oak Ridge similarly produce “radioisotopes” (radioactive isotopes) of elements ranging from antimony to zirconium. Given time, they could change the world around pretty radically, since all their radioisotopes eventually turn into stable elements—and these are usually quite different from the elements they started with. Naturally radioactive elements can also be duplicated. Polonium 210, the natural form that turns into lead, has been produced from bismuth in a high-voltage atom gun at the University of Michigan.

Awe-inspiring to earlier chemists was their powerlessness to start, stop, or control in any way the radioactive process that in nature’s own good time gives birth to the various members of the radium, actinium, and thorium families. It could neither be hastened nor retarded by the most potent forces they could bring to bear—the searing heat of the blast flame, the frigid cold of liquid air, or the crackling discharge of millions of volts of electricity. But now the great 184-inch cyclotron of the University of California has shown how to give nature a boost. It turns uranium directly into a remote member of the actinium family, Actinium X—a process for which nature requires five successive steps and, on the average, more than 700,000,000 years!

In 1939, a cyclotron yielded a radioactive metal new to science—technitium, the first element to be discovered by its artificial creation. All newer elements, except francium, have come from the cyclotron and atomic pile—astatine, neptunium, plutonium, curium, americium, and prometheum. Plutonium, of atom-bomb fame, was also the first synthetic element made by the pound.

Prometheum and technitium, the two synthetic elements believed most surely absent in nature, now are available from Oak Ridge. Substantial quantities could be produced as by-products of future atomic-power piles, if experimenters find they have important practical uses.

These men may well bear in mind the success story of the “Cinderella” element, columbium. As late as 1928, making a disk the size of a half dollar would nearly have exhausted the world’s supply of this steel-gray metal. In 1929, a Chicago chemist proudly exhibited the first rods and plates of columbium—and frankly admitted he couldn’t imagine any use for them. Today, as a result of wartime research, columbium has become indispensable. It forms a small but essential fraction of a heat-resisting alloy for the turbines of the world’s fastest jet planes. Any one of the newest elements made by alchemists may likewise prove a necessity in the world of tomorrow.

25 comments
  1. zala says: August 18, 20071:55 am

    i want make a synthetic gold by plant
    my country is india
    many hostory and lirature in over country
    of alchemy i was did 3000 exprimennt for
    synthetic gold but sume time be rady of gold but not perfect succese

  2. naredi gajendera says: August 27, 200711:05 am

    It is a fact that India is The great countryinthe world. It was a golden bird and is and will be, because this land of the globe imparted the real knowldge of transmuting the lead in to GOLD 2.copper in to GOLD 3.silver in to GOLD 4.tin in to silver 5.copper in to silver 6.mercury into silver.And this vast knowldge still in the few brains.I want to invest allmoney earned by this process in the spaceship programme of my country.

  3. naredi gajendera says: August 27, 200711:13 am

    I like this site because due this commenting habit will definetly fetch out the alchemy intellects and will place on one plateform and by using these techniques shared by alchemists will definetly do the great work for ones country in fighting with the poverty and helping also in the various projects

  4. Gold Blogger says: November 8, 20079:02 pm

    Have you ever heard that Russian alchemists have found a way to manufacture gold from lead at a cost of 400-600$ an ounce? They have never done it before because the manufacturing cost was too high. However, at today’s gold prices they are making a killing! What do you think?

  5. Hollywood says: January 4, 200811:41 am

    there is no such thing as turning silver to gold and copper to gold there is no such thing at all, its all a big lie to suck your wealth from your pocket. If there was a such thing as this Alchemists Makeing Gold, then people would not be buying it at $855 an ounce………… May your dumb dreams not come true.

  6. kirat sinh zala says: April 5, 20082:36 am

    im live in indian form gujrat jamnagar im not alchemist but thare for i have doing envent on syntheic gold. diamond , i have do many expriment related thi matter my mother language is gujarati
    many litareture fill beahind my ,

  7. kirat sinh zala says: April 5, 20082:42 am

    u can make gold by this process
    one part of gold one part of silver 4 4 part of copper & 8 part of khaparia this all materail melt in crucibale u can get sume gold from crucibale

  8. Miguel says: April 27, 20085:55 pm

    Hello there people of the alchemy world, I am a newcomer and I have major interests in the field of alchemy, I would appreciate ANY and ALL information that could aid and help me out on my quest of alchemy knowledge. I have interests with the process and world famous studies of turning material into 100% gold, please if any one have any useful information on this gold processing subject and alchemy in general please email me, even referrals to information sources would be very nice and helpfull, thank you in advance! [email protected]

  9. yogesh says: July 1, 20083:28 am

    I am yogesh patel.from india,gujarat,baroda.I am mot alchemist but reading is my hobby,one day I was reading in my librery sudnnly I found the theory of making gold,not in book but in my mind, I work out on my logic from all ways,and i got I can make gold,still I am working on my theory,for more pure results,and I am sure I will get success,I know it is easy but it is expensive atleast on starting stage,so I am looking for partner(investor),lets see…

  10. Shahzad says: July 11, 20088:41 am
  11. mike says: May 20, 20093:23 am

    the equation for making gold cheaply is near impossible to figure out, people have been trying for hundreds of years

  12. Lindsey Bates says: October 16, 20096:41 pm

    dear: Kirat Singh Zala.. your formula sounds interesting.. What is “Khaparia” ? and how much gold can actually be recovered ? Considering that you have already added 1 part gold and 1 part silver to the formula.. sincerely Lindsey

  13. yogesh patel says: October 18, 20091:32 am

    Hi,
    I have theory of making of gold which can not be make in home.because The theory I have is used by emperors in past.and that was on very large scale.with very high investments,so I dont think that any one can make gold in his home.It is fact that gold can make by us but not like game.what I have to introduce my self is like I am decoder of our ancestor’s knowledge of making of gold.just think on my logic,India,egypt,peru,and many more places and culture of(today’s) south america. all have very high velue of gold in there life and culture. and all places had abundandt quantity of gold.but there was no gold mines in that region and we have’t any script of carring of gold from any other countries so how can they be owner of these much quantity of gold? I think it is simple that they can make gold is the answer. and my theory can explain it and also we can make gold. but it is not a job of one person it is job of team. and I am looking for partners of team.

    thanks,
    yogesh patel

  14. Midas says: November 22, 20097:04 am

    If you cant turn it, you can make it! There is nothing impossible in this world, who is nikola tesla, who is wright brother? How nikola ‘s invention light up our world? How is that possible? Its start with a dream.

  15. Firebrand38 says: November 22, 20092:36 pm

    Midas: Nothing impossible in this world? Trying kissing your own elbow.

    And remember tomorrow is another day!

    I think Little Orphan Annie did it better.

  16. jayessell says: November 22, 20099:33 pm

    What do you call Alchemy that works? Science.

    There was a Felix the Cat cartoon where Felix and Poindexter
    found themselves in the Middle Ages. The local king demanded
    they use their knowledge from the future to make gold.
    He put them in the former Alchemist’s lab.
    Poindexter said “Transmutation of the elements is impossible
    with such primitive equipment.”

    This is because Alchemy predates knowledge of the atomic theory.
    To change one element into another, the number of protons and
    neutrons in the atoms would have to be changed.

    Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org…

    Then: Gold synthesis from Mercury / Gold synthesis in an accelerator / Gold synthesis in a nuclear reactor

    PS: Westerners laugh at you for being so backward.

  17. Astro says: February 17, 201112:36 pm

    Westerners laugh at you for being so backward? I therefore, must not be a westerner. Do not discount things so readily, jayessell. I have full faith in alchemy due to my thoery on matter. Science is also just that, a thoery. Atomic “thoery”. Protons and neutrons can be altered within an atom. It wouldn’t need to be forced either. Reaching back to the foundation-thoery for the universe, gold WAS created. Therefore, it is possible to create gold through alchemy.

  18. John says: February 17, 201112:56 pm

    Astro: Terrific, another mouth breather who doesn’t understand what the word “theory” means in the context of science. Instead of running off at the mouth use your vast knowledge to use alchemy to create gold from base metal then we can all be impressed. By the way for future reference, “faith” actually means belief in something contrary to or absent of the evidence and has no place in the scientific method. But you knew that.

  19. John says: February 17, 20111:37 pm

    Oh and Jay probably should have said smart people instead of Westerners. That way even if your follow on wasn’t self evident it would have made more sense for you to say that you must not be smart.

  20. Jason Joseph Mildrew says: March 1, 201110:03 am

    I processed synthetic gold at Eel River Camp in winter of 2009/2010 my last winter of 5+ years. Also 1 year at Frenchs Camp. E.R.C. is Pillipsville, Caifornia postal service and area with many to verify formula. Also studied its infared holding capabilities great for weaponry circuits combined with silicone tech. Have 10 year old daughter and need work, as I returned home to PA as of October 2010. Have an understanding of alchemy and theoretical sciences and would like to use in a positive manner for stimulation of more knowledge and simple pride.

  21. John says: March 1, 201111:07 am

    Jason Joseph Mildrew: You know how to make gold and you need work? I can’t believe there are no positions for staff alchemists somewhere!

  22. Daniel knight says: November 3, 20118:03 am

    A client is seeking various experts which have work related knowledge and experience in the field of producing Gold. If you have experience with either manufacturing or producing GOLD or have created an invention/ idea on how Gold could be produced, our client would like to hear from you. In the first instance please reply back via linkedin. Location: Europe. All applications are confidential. Excellent packages are paid for the right candidates.

    http://www.linkedin.com…

  23. JMyint says: November 3, 201110:33 am

    How to make gold from mercury. Dissolve the mercury in a strong solution of nitric acid. Expose it to a strong neutron source like that in an atomic reactor and some of the mercury will be transmuted to isotopes of gold. Radioactive gold. A percentage of that gold will be Au195 with a half life of 186 days (the other isotopes will be far less stable).

  24. panditpatil says: November 12, 20112:35 am
  25. zzxyzz says: September 26, 20123:09 am
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