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Fiction or Reality: Can Lead be Turned into Gold?

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Joel BaumanThis article was submitted by Joel Bauman, SchiffGold Precious Metals Specialist. Any views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Peter Schiff or SchiffGold.
A few months ago I spoke with a woman who challenged my profession in precious metals. “Don’t you know gold can be created from lead?” she said. She then informed me that the best thing to do in the coming years was to avoid the purchase of precious metals, fiercely warning me of a coming gold collapse. “There will be a mass production of gold!” she hung up the phone before I had a chance to respond.

To date, I’m not exactly sure why this woman called our company. It’s obvious she wasn’t about to buy precious metals or at the very least have a conversation. Most likely she wanted to justify her decision to steer clear of buying gold and silver by pushing her views on me. To her credit, she was articulate and sounded a lot like Peter Schiff, barring the fact she was concerned with the future of gold instead of US dollars!

Where did this woman get the idea of turning lead into gold?

For those who don’t know, she was referring to alchemy. Broadly speaking, alchemy is simply Medieval chemistry; however, the study is best know for the transmutation of elements such as lead into gold or chrysopoeia.

Original alchemists could be labeled many things: medieval chemists, spiritualists, philosophers, and people of the occult. They were tucked away in dark rooms conducting chemical and magical experiments to find the philosopher’s stone, a mystic stone that could supposedly give eternal life and convert any base metal like lead into a precious metal like gold.

Many fortunes have been spent financing the research for the chemical composition and process of such a stone. It’s even rumored some have succeeded, such as the famous alchemist, Nicolas Flamel. As strange as this sounds historians believe the research of the early alchemists laid the foundation for modern chemistry. Their work influenced famous scientists like Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton.

Can base metals such as lead actually be transmuted into gold?

Surprisingly the answer is yes.

While there is no such thing as a philosopher’s stone, we can in fact artificially transmute or nuclear transmute base metals into gold. This has been the case since the 20th century. Scientists have the ability to change a number of protons in an element’s nucleus thereby transforming one element into another element.

Does this have any impact in the market price for gold?

The answer is no.

The costs involved in producing gold is significantly greater than the actual price of gold. Glenn Seaborg, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist said, “It would cost more than one quadrillion dollars per ounce to produce gold by this experiment,” referencing a 1980s gold experiment that transmuted base metal into gold. Additionally, the gold produced by this same experiment was radioactive.

While alchemy is cool it’s not economical. Saying,“The price of gold will collapse because of alchemy,” is the same as saying, “The price of bananas will collapse because scientists discovered we can grow banana trees on Mars.” Both statements aren’t taking into account the difficulty of the process.

Conclusion

While gold can be created by artificial transmutation, precious metal owners have no need to fear. The price of precious metals has not and will not be affected by alchemy in the foreseeable future. Science still has a long way to go.

 

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