If a person were to discover a method to transmute lead into gold easily, would they be required by law to disclose this information when selling it or exchanging it for currency?

The method used costs little energy and resources, and would devalue gold almost completely were the methodology exposed. The Seller would carefully structure their supply and run a mine as a front to obfuscate the gold's origin. They know what they are selling has no true value anymore, but act to prevent their buyers from learning this themselves.

  • It will be interesting to compare answers to this question with regard to how synthetic gems like diamonds and rubies are handled. – Jason Aller Apr 16 at 23:32
up vote 8 down vote accepted

No. If the transmuted material is truly gold, which is simply a chemical element, there is no duty to disclose its source if the source is not an illegal one. And, there is no legal prohibition on transmuting other materials into gold via alchemy.

In real life, however, the only way to transmute other materials into gold is through a nuclear reactor (fusion or fission depending upon the source materials) and you do need a permit from the nuclear regulatory commission in the United States to build a nuclear reactor. That permit, in turn, subjects you to pervasive regulation by the NRC.

  • 1
    Additionally, the creation of gold in a nuclear reactor will use energy that is worth a lot more than the gold produced is. – Dale M Apr 17 at 4:20
  • You could also use a particle accelerator, but I don't know what regulations apply to those, and the power issue still remains. – JAB Apr 17 at 16:32
  • @JAB I think, although I am not 100% sure, that a particle accelerator is within NRC jurisdiction. – ohwilleke Apr 17 at 19:04

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

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