Accelerator techniques for carbon dating

Believing them to be hybrid compounds, and therefore amenable to chemical change in laboratory reactions, the alchemists pursued the dream of to no avail.

With the dawn of the atomic age in the 20th century, however, the transmutation of elements finally became possible.

More than 30 years ago nuclear scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California succeeded in producing very small amounts of gold from bismuth, a metallic element adjacent to lead on the periodic table.Glenn Seaborg, who shared the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work with heavy elements and who died in 1999, was the senior author on the resulting study. “It would cost more than one quadrillion dollars per ounce to produce gold by this experiment," Seaborg told the Associated Press that year. “We could have used lead in the experiments, but we used bismuth because it has only one stable isotope,” Morrissey says.The element’s homogeneous nature means it is easier to separate gold from bismuth than it is to separate gold from lead, which has four stable isotopic identities.

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