Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

If all the elements are made of protons, neutrons and electrons, but some elements are much rarer and more expensive than others, would it be possible to break apart atoms of one element and make atoms of another element or molecules out of them? If so, is it possible to do the same to living creatures, or is there more to them than protons, neutrons and electrons (I mean physically, regardless of ethical considerations)? And if any of this is possible, and if it were applied to transporting things or even people very fast (by recording all the information about something, breaking it apart, sending the information at lightspeed, and then reconstructing the object on the other side out of basic particles), would it take more time and/or energy than it would save?

share|cite|improve this question
  1. In fact, according to modern physics matter consists of much more than only neutrons, protons, and electrons. Say for example, quarks that make up neutrons and protons, or pi-mesons that hold nuclei together(search on wiki "standard model").
  2. In principle, it IS possible to take apart atoms (' nuclei), rearrange them, and end up with other atoms. But this is extremely hard and requires( or gives out) LOTS of energy(basically this is what happens in nuclear/atomic bombs, fusion or fission). It is not practical generally with current human technology.
  3. Again, in principle it could be done. But a living organism is far FAR more complex than single atoms that we cannot easily transmutate. And the subtleties and mechanics of living organisms are far from completely understood. This requires an even higher level of technology.
  4. Yes, with today's human technology, it would cost a LOT more than it would save.
share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.