As a trained chemist, I laugh at alchemists. Who knows how many wannabe alchemists have accidentally blown themselves up in their garden shed? It’s a shame that Darwin awards don’t span back to medieval times. Alchemists traditionally don’t care health and safety. Yes, health and safety is often groan inducing, but they are important. Because I don’t want to die doing Chemistry. That would rather be inconvenient to my schedule. Alchemists would laugh at the point of risk assessments and then proceed to die because they decided to try turn lead into gold by heating highly explosive substances. The shed did nothing wrong ….
Turning lead to gold is their ultimate goal. Is it possible? Well, yes. In your garden shed? Pfft, no! Lead has 82 protons and 125 neutrons. Gold has 79 protons and 119 neutrons. (Figures are assuming the weighted average mass numbers of the isotopes.) So to turn lead to gold, 3 protons and 6 neutrons need to be removed. Ok? Where does it happen? Well, outside gold being only formed in supernovae, it could happen via nuclear fission.
Nuclear fission involves firing neutrons at the nucleus of atoms causing them to shatter. So, we can fire neutrons at lead causing it to form gold. But, can we control it? Well, no. Chances are that the split is more even and extremely hard to control. Gold would be a very minor product. It’s just a statistically small compared to splitting lead exactly in half.
But let’s give the alchemist a chance? Surely, one can do nuclear fission in your garden shed? Short answer: no. Long answer (cracks fingers before typing): Nuclear fission produces a lot of energy that can escalate very quickly. This is called a chain reaction and in the worst case scenario, causes a nuclear fallout. Want evidence? Look at Chernobyl. Nuclear reactors use control rods to absorb excess neutrons to control the fission process. A reactor will have multiple safety measures to stop disasters, but they aren’t perfect as seen recently with Fukushima.
So if our alchemist in their garden shed tried nuclear fission, the whole neighbourhood would be decimated and become a nuclear wasteland because as mentioned earlier, alchemists don’t follow health and safety guidelines.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed this. In conclusion, we should treat alchemists with the same contempt as flat-earthers.
Interested? Want more? Here’s a link to the previous content for my project, soon to be a novel: The Successor of Ramiel. (No alchemy involved, but sarcastic Angels and malicious Fallen Angels. Some traditional good stuff!)
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