The result that was at first unexpected became more and more intriguing to the research team as preliminary tests found a number of transmuted atoms in which four protons had been removed from a bismuth atom to produce gold.
Along with the four protons, the collision-induced reactions had removed anywhere from six to 15 neutrons, producing a range of gold isotopes from gold 190 (79 protons and 111 neutrons) to gold 199 (79 protons, 120 neutrons).
The discovery which left the scientists incredulous at first, became an obsession of the research team, who did not reveal their positive results at first in fear of academic backlash.
Â«We could not believe these results ourselves, we needed extra time to understand what had happened. It’s been months and we are still far from understanding the underlying principlesÂ» explains Dr Brevechin.
Also known as the Kurchatov Institute, the research center has played a key role in the maintenance of the country’s security and the development of the most important strategic directions. The Institute was a creator of the first atomic reactor in Eurasia (1946), the first domestic atomic bomb (1949), the first thermonuclear bomb in the world (1953).
The research facility also has seen the rise of the first nuclear power plant in the world (1954), the first tokamak installation (1955), atomic reactors for ice-breakers (1957), submarines (1958) and space engineering were developed under the scientific leadership of Kurchatov Institute.
The amount of gold produced by the experiments have been of extremely small quantities and the scientists had to identify it by measuring the radiation given off by unstable gold nuclei as they decayed over the course of a year. Â«It may seem like a very slow process of discoveryÂ» explains research assistant Milani Vonovich. Â«But we are pushing the limits of known science everydayÂ» she adds.
Producing large quantities of gold from other metals might still be a far-fetched idea for the moment, the quantities of money and energy implied do not make it a profitable exercise, yet researchers are enthusiast that future discoveries might help us eventually solve this age old riddle.