As we know on fusing two hydrogen atoms we can convert it to helium and by breaking them we get two $\ce{H}$ atoms. So why can't we convert mercury to gold by removing 1 proton per atom?

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    $\begingroup$ The quick answer is that (a) We can't do this in bulk yet, only to a few atoms, and (b) it's very, very expensive to do this. Hopefully someone else can expand on it. $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth Feb 22 '13 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Manishearth - For nuclear transmutation in the most generic sense (be it fusion, fission, spallation, etc.) that's not really true - Tc-99m, Am-241 and Pu-239 all spring to mind as valuable materials which are synthesised economically in macroscopic quantities. $\endgroup$ – Richard Terrett Feb 25 '13 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ @RichardTerrett: True... but not gold, iirc. $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth Feb 25 '13 at 5:13

While it is possible to synthesize gold from mercury-196 (exists as 0.15% of natural mercury) the resultant gold will be radioactive and will not be gold for long!

There is actually the spallation neutron source which creates gold from liquid mercury.



Why can't we use fusion to make ourselves rich?

Because at the current stage of technological progress making gold from other elements by fusion in large quantities is so costly (energy-wise and therefore money-wise), that it is just extraordinarily unprofitable to do that.


The premise of this question is false. We don't fuse two hydrogen atoms to make Helium, we fuse two deuterium (Hydrogen-2) to make helium, and it is definitely not going to split back to two deuterium atoms under any circumstances, it is too expensive energetically. This process is called fission.

Highstaker's answer is partially correct, and Meditate's answer is almost correct. The process Mediate describes is radioactive decay, not fusion, or even fission. Even using fusion processes, 'atom smashing' tends to lead to radioactive products because of the high energy (Hightaker comments) required to overcome electrostatic repulsion.

  • $\begingroup$ sorry little bit confused guy in chem a pretty tough but interesting subject for me that's why I make these mistake well thank's for the correction it help me in futer not to these all silly things $\endgroup$ – Dimensionless Feb 25 '13 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ No apology is required. Asking these questions is the purpose of stack. $\endgroup$ – Lighthart Feb 25 '13 at 19:52

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