Monday, February 24, 2014
Why the Ancients may have really created gold
The ancients were a creative bunch. To them we owe our gratitude for immense works of art; paintings, sculptures, inventions, architecture, literature, to name just a few of the many creative accomplishments that have made our world a better place to live in.
To some ancients, though, it was not art that they wanted to create. It was
gold and probably all that could be obtained with gold. While some did the usual things to obtain gold, work, mine for it or even steal it, a creative group of men decided to make gold a different way. It was their belief that they could actually create it out of other materials. (I say men only as I have not found anything to prove any particular woman involved in this “science.” and they really didn't include women much in such things back then.) Gold is a particularly beautiful thing, has a lot of wonderful properties besides just making jewelry and to use for currency, so it is no wonder that someone would come up with the idea to just make it out of nothing, or to make it out of a cheaper material. Gold never corrodes, and can be flattened out to infinitesimally small sheets, some only atoms thick. It is used now in technological and medical industries, as well as for currency, artifacts, and jewelry just for starters.
I was intrigued by the question of whether the ancients really could create gold. The idea of having however much gold you wanted was an interesting idea. If you could make it, you wouldn't have to search for it, like some treasure hunters did. Paracelsus, the father of chemistry, called alchemy, "the treasure of treasures" for alchemists.
From what I gathered from reading old alchemy texts was that one first had to obtain what was called, "the Philosophers stone." But this was just the beginning of a very complicated process that with time, eventually evolved into what we know to be chemistry. Because alchemists had need to keep their processes secret, both from the church fathers as well as the state, they wrote their texts in very complex and obscured language, using symbols and allegory to keep the uninitiated away.
It was felt from the time of Aristotle that all matter consisted of four elements, namely earth, air, water and fire. The alchemists believed that in the correct proportions and combinations, that the base elements could be rearranged by the use of heat as well as other processes, to transmute them into gold. The main goal of alchemy was to transmute lead into gold. Lead, it is now known has the atomic number 82 and gold the atomic number 79, which are defined as elements by the number of protons they possess, and changing the element requires changing the atomic number or protons. These protons can't be changed by any chemical means. However, by the use of physics, protons can be added or removed to change one element into another. To change the three protons of lead, an enormous amount of energy is required, so that the cost of transmuting it would greatly outweigh the value of the manufactured gold. It wasn't until the 19th century that their assumption that there were only four elements was found to be false.
With the 20th century and the atomic age, the discovery of ways to break down the elements to their basic structures to form new compounds was not just a medieval superstition any longer. The Hadron collider built in 2008 has not only recreated known elements, it has created two new elements on the periodic table, namely ununqadium (114) and ununhexium (116).Today these particle accelerators transmute elements on a regular basis. There is some discussion on websites that feel that the transmutation of gold has been achieved, reportedly first in 1951 by Glenn Seaborg who succeeded in changing a miniscule amount of lead into gold.
Nuclear reactors also may used for creating elements, although the conditions are less controlled. Reportedly in 1972 in the Soviet Union, physicists at a nuclear research plant discovered that they had inadvertently created gold when the lead covering of a reactor transmuted. I would think that any gold created from these processes would not only be extremely costly and time-consuming, it would also be harmful and transient, as would probably decay back into lead quickly.
In view of fact that scientists were now able to make new elements, I feel that it may be theoretically possible that the ancients were able to achieve some level of element creation even without the use of particle accelerators. It just took them a lot longer, probably years, to see any effect. It has been shown that new elements can be man-made, unfortunately the reports that gold was created have not been substantiated and we have nothing to really prove the matter. Even if they did not create gold, it shows the drive to create something can be very strong and can lead to some beneficial creations (as well as some not so beneficial ones too sometimes.)
Well since I don't own a crucible and I really don't think I have that much time to sit around and stir up gold,. I guess I will go out and buy a lottery ticket. Wish me luck! Thanks for reading. If you would like to contact me email me.
Check out Alchemy Lab for info on Paracelsus. If you would like to research alchemy further, check out The Alchemy Web Site. It is very in-depth but very interesting too. Information about the Hadron Collider, new elements and superconductors can be found at the official site of C.E.R.N.