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Physics/regarding heavier metals formation



I read that heavier metals like carbon, iron were formed in stars. Can we create heavier metals like carbon, iron by nuclear fusion in lab? Also why there are no heavier metals than iron though there are many elements higher up than iron in periodic table.


ANSWER: There are tons of metals heavier than iron, like lead and gold.  They were formed in a more rare process, involved in only supernovae and processes like that.  We create them all the time, but we find them on the Earth just fine as well...they're just far less common if they're heavier due to the nature of their formation.

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Thanks for your reply.

>>We create them all the time, but we find them on the Earth just fine as well...

Why is that scientists have failed to create gold from other elements in the lab?

Also the temperature in star is so great, how is that all the elements in stars are present in earth as well. One would expect unique elements in stars as the temperature over there is incomparable. Please clarify.

Scientists have not failed to create gold in the laboratory.  Example: take some mercury and use a proton beam to knock off an alpha particle (with the proton coming in, that can make gold).  Or just expose platinum 196 to will become platinum 197, which decays into gold.  This process has been observed, and it even has some uses (measuring neutron radiation levels).  So we do create gold in the lab, but it's so inefficient that it's not worth it.  But the experiment works.  Costs millions to create microscopic amounts of gold, but it's easily enough done.  

The stuff you see that's heavier than helium on the Earth was all left over from a supernova a long time ago.  That blast created the heavy elements, the cloud of them collapsed into the planets.


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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