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Preliminary Note on the Transmutation of Mercury into Gold


THE experiment on the transmutation of mercury was begun in September 1924, with the assistance of Messrs. Y. Sugiura, T. Asada and T. Machida. The main object was to ascertain if the view which we expressed in NATURE of March 29, 1924, can be realised by applying an intense electric field to mercury atoms. Another object was to find if the radio-active changes can be accelerated by artificial means. From the outset it was clear that a field of many million volts/cm. is necessary for the purpose. From our observation on the Stark effect in arcs of different metals (Jap. Journ. Phys., vol. 3, pp. 45–73) we found that with silver globules the field in a narrow space very near the metal was nearly 2 × 105 volts/cm. with terminal voltage of about 140. The presence of such an intense field indicated the possibility of obtaining the desired strength of the field for transmutation, if sufficient terminal voltage be applied. Though the above ratio of magnification would be diminished with high voltage, the experiment was thought worth trying, even if we could not effect the transmutation with the apparatus at hand.

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NAGAOKA, H. Preliminary Note on the Transmutation of Mercury into Gold. Nature 116, 95–96 (1925).

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