Michael S. Lorrey (
Wed, 14 Apr 1999 09:10:12 -0400

"Ross A. Finlayson" wrote:

> Well, as soon as it is possible to overcome the strong nuclear and repulsion
> forces to actually modify an atom's atomic weight and its electrons, then any
> matter could be formed into any other matter. I don't fully understand the
> dynamics of transmuting elements.

Which is why you are talking some serious BS here. There is no way you could accelerate particles to high enough energies in the distance of a nanotech scale to cause the fusion reactions necessary to transmute elements. You might be able to do it with a mass of nanites working together as a particle accelerator, on hydrogen, but hydrogen (specifically the deuterium isotope) is the easiest atom to create a fusion reaction with, and we still have trouble with it. Each successive increase in atomic weight (hydrogen to helium, to lithium, to berellium, etc) requires increasing multiples of energy to cause them to fuse (with increasingly lower amounts of energy out of the reaction). Once you are at the level of iron, its easier to use fission to break larger elements apart than to fuse smaller ones together.

> This is similar to the idea of a nano-scale assembler, but perhaps a little
> smaller. It would be similar to an "alchemy" machine in that alchemy's
> famous goal is turning lead into gold, but otherwise has nothing to do with
> alchemy. Perhaps it could be called an "absolute assembler".
> If that is not possible (it is not likely to be possible any time soon), a
> couple of bags of rust would do.
> Silicon possesses very similar qualities to carbon in terms of electron
> stability, and it would be likely that, for example, buckyballs and nanotubes
> could be made from silicon, as well as higher level structures like
> diamondoid structural building materials.

No it is not. Silicon has enough fewer valence bonds that it always loses the molecular competition to carbon.

Mike Lorrey