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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

On This Day in Science History - January - 3 - Rutherford Nuclear Transmutation

By January 2, 2014

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January 3rd is the anniversary of the first artificial nuclear transmutation of elements. In 1919, Ernest Rutherford placed a radioactive source of alpha particles into a container of nitrogen gas. After a period of time, he discovered some of his nitrogen gas had been converted to oxygen gas.

Nitrogen becomes oxygen by the reaction:

α + 14N → 17O + 1p

The alpha particles reacted with the nitrogen nucleus and created an isotope of oxygen with an extra proton. Rutherford's experiment fulfilled the old alchemist's dream of converting one element into another and was an important early step in nuclear chemistry. Find out what else occurred on this day in science history.


April 1, 2010 at 11:03 pm
(1) sophia says:

i love beryllium

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