In reference to this question about transmuting lead into gold, I'm looking for a correct, though magical, way to turn lead into gold. I'm not worried if it's possible to split off a lithium nucleus from a lead nucleus to get gold (I know it isn't), I just want to know if my nuclear math is correct.

If you extract a lithium nucleus from lead is gold the result?

I realize this is a very naive question and it ignores a great deal about nuclear fusion, fission and isotopes.

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    $\begingroup$ No, you won't get a gold atom, you will get a gold ion with three extra electrons. Your magical way will need to get rid of them as well. $\endgroup$
    – user81619
    Jul 28, 2015 at 0:00
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    $\begingroup$ You don't need magic in order to move electrons around. $\endgroup$
    – DanielLC
    Jul 28, 2015 at 0:02

1 Answer 1


You'd need to use lead-204, which has a natural abundance of 1.4%. If you want to use one of the more common isotopes of lead, you'll have a few extra neutrons. You could let them fly off and then decay into hydrogen.

  • $\begingroup$ Decay into hydrogen is acceptable. What if we used Lead 208? What would I need to subtract to get gold? $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Jul 28, 2015 at 0:06
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    $\begingroup$ You'd need to subtract lithium-11. The heaviest stable isotope of lithium is lithium-7. I don't know how lithium-11 will decay, just that it will. $\endgroup$
    – DanielLC
    Jul 28, 2015 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ Wikipedia says Li-11 does beta decay to Be-11. Works for me. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Jul 28, 2015 at 1:19
  • $\begingroup$ No matter which isotope, Pb minus Li equals gold. $\endgroup$
    – t0xic
    Aug 1, 2015 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. The problem is that if it's not gold-197, it will be highly radioactive. $\endgroup$
    – DanielLC
    Aug 2, 2015 at 6:40

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