It is possible, under the right conditions, for us to transform one element
into another. This is done by "slamming" a particle into a nucleus,
causing the nucleus to change and therefore the identity or the mass of the
atom. Alpha particles can be used to transform one nucleus into another.
Since the nucleus of the alpha particle is positive and the nucleus of the atom
being bombarded is also positive, the particles will naturally repel each other.
In order to over come this repulsion, the reaction must be performed at very
high speeds (speed of light). These speeds are achieved using particle
Examples of Artificial Nuclear Transformations
Nitrogen can be transformed into hydrogen by combining its nucleus with
an alpha particle. An atom of hydrogen (proton) is produced as part of the
Aluminum-27 can be transformed into phosphorus-30 by combining its
nucleus with an alpha particle. A neutron is produced as part of the
Other small nuclei, such as Carbon-12 and nitrogen-15 can be used to
bombard heavier nuclei.
Synthesis of Some of the Transuranium Elements
Uranium is the heaviest natural element. In 1940, neptunium was
produced by neutron bombardment of uranium-238. The process initially
give uranium-239, which decays to neptunium-239 by the production of a beta