The premise is an adept modern chemist is transported back in time and is to serve as the court alchemist to a wealthy prince in the late 16th century.
- "Transmuting" gold is the chief goal, but the prince would possibly consider allowing for a different output to be yielded from "transmutation," providing its worth the time and resources
- During this time nobility/royalty of the utmost wealth are documented having many alchemists on the payroll, so let's assume the modern chemist is working alongside actual alchemists
- The prince's knowledge is expert; he has executed many con-artist alchemists in the past.
- The modern chemist has disguised his strange accent/language/culture and has learned the local language, so as to communicate without raising superficial suspicion (of course it won't be how he says it, but rather what he says)
- Though he may have modern knowledge, he has no modern scientific instruments with him; he must improvise everything with the resources available at the time
- The modern chemist cleverly used his knowledge to predict results of experiments no one else could, and has worked his way to the position of lead alchemist and is partially immune to social ostracization. This means that he must still be mindful of how he articulates his concepts, but he cannot be overtly ostracized because he is different
European history shows that being ostracized by society doesn't bode well for said individual, so the last assumption is particularly necessary. Given these assumptions, which are generous for the chemist, there is still the problem of actually transmuting gold. As far as known science goes, the closest thing the modern chemist can think of that can serve as his "philosopher's stone" is a particle accelerator. He's thinking back to the 1941 Harvard particle accelerator experiment that bombarded neutrons into 400 grams of mercury resulting in a small amount of gold.
Alas, in the 1500's there can be no such luxury (tempting as it may be to throw that into the assumptions too), the modern chemist must bring his expertise to bear in another way if he is to save his hide and not be executed as a con-artist by the expert prince. What the modern chemist also knows is this: the prince may be an expert, but that just means he's an expert within the context of his era. Before the advent of modern chemistry, whether or not a metal was considered gold was determined not by its atomic structure (obviously), but rather if it satisfied the right properties: luster, malleability, color and weight.
Could an adept modern chemist lead a team of obedient alchemists to produce a material that is extremely gold-like in terms of its physical/chemical properties? If so, roughly, how would he go about it? (no chemical formulae is required, just a general description)
Quality Metric 1: The more gold-like the output the better. This way, when rival alchemists present their "transmuted gold" the modern chemist's output will seem far superior, and thus improve his standing in society. To reiterate, by gold-like we mean properties including but not limited to: luster, weight, hardness, ect.
Quality Metric 2: If you are vehemently opposed to the idea that the modern chemist can yield a material that has properties more similar to gold than the material the 1500's alchemists transmuted, then propose the next-best way to save his skin.