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Weak Nuclear Alchemy, that is the power I am asking about today, a power that was already discussed in What Would Powers Based of the Weak Force Look Like, but I am asking a more specific question. Essentially, in this form of weak nuclear alchemy, the user is able to transform an elementally pure object into a different elementally pure object so long as the material it transforms into is one step away on the weak force "decay chain," ie. one neutron transforms into 1 proton per atom in the transition. They are able to somehow generate enough energy to achieve this transition through magic, but magic does not effect in any way the energy or radiation released by this reaction. Besides this, the practitioner also has to touch the object they're transmutating with their bare skin. So, the question is, how much stuff can they transform before they die, blow their hand off, or something like that? We're probably talking about how many atoms they can transform so I am pretty sure the question I am asking is how many moles of material can I transform before the weak nuclear alchemy becomes truly dangerous for me?

Edit:

I need to specify something that is relevant to the answer of the question. Currently, the best answer I have says my alchemists can transform 1 micro-mol of material safely, but this is taking long-term safety in mind. I am not concerned about long-term safety, only short term safety. The thing is, these alchemists will generally have monthly access to healing magic which can deal with minor inconveniences like cancer and stuff, so the main question is how much of a mol could they transform per month without dying?

Think of the healing magic as being far better than, and at the same time far more expensive then, modern technology, so they can heal from pretty much any injury but only at afew set times so they can't survive things like acute radiation poisoning. I would need to no more about the effects beta radiation has on the human body to say more.

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  • $\begingroup$ Based off my limited knowledge, as long as you don’t transmute to or from radioactive materials, but I’m not in any way/shape/form an expert. As long as the material changing doesn’t go mushroom clouds, you should be good (again, not an expert) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not convinced this is a specific question. If you change just enough TNT to destabilize it you'll blow your hand off. On the other hand, you could probably change a mountain of sand without changing much of anything. In other words, "how much" will be both atomically and molecularly dependent. Worse, if you could change (ignoring weak force, but as an example) O2 to O3 in almost any "practical" quantity and have no effect on your health. Change it in the tube of a scuba tank/tube/mask and you'll suffocate. That makes this really situation-dependent. (*Continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ The more I think about it, I need to VTC as Needs More Focus, but I'll happily retract if you can figure out how to narrow this question to focus on a useful example circumstance that will help you discover the limits of this superpower. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 4:58
  • $\begingroup$ Transmutation is the primary skill you would acquire. Your problem would be getting a handle on things. What would be ideal is if you could trigger fusion until energies got high enough to rebind electromagnetism to the weak force. This would give you macroscopic range, as well as the ability to contain this plasma you are using to fuel all this. I don't know how you'd tinker your way to a mental model that would allow you to do stuff though. I certainly would not want to be in the same room with you while you learned. $\endgroup$
    – chiggsy
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 6:25

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The premise of catalyzing neutron-to-proton conversions via the weak nuclear force is fanciful, but there are real physical constraints that need consideration.

During neutron decay, an energy of 0.78 MeV is released, primarily as kinetic energy of the resulting proton and electron. This presents two key radiation hazards:

  • High-energy beta particles from the emitted electrons. Average energy would be around 0.25 MeV, with the maximum at 0.78 MeV. Electrons at this energy level can penetrate considerably into tissues.

  • Gamma radiation resulting from proton-nucleus collisions and bremsstrahlung of the beta particles interacting with matter. This secondary radiation could add significantly to overall exposure.

Dosages as low as 100 mrad (1 mGy) are linked to increased cancer risks. Acute radiation poisoning can occur at doses over 100 rad (1 Gy), with severity increasing rapidly beyond 500 rad (5 Gy).

Considering the nature of beta and gamma radiation from neutron decay, sustaining exposures above 5-10 mrad per transmutation session would be ill-advised. This translates to transforming less than 1 microgram of material at a time. Ingesting or inhaling any transmuted particles would intensify internal exposures further. Hand protection is also essential.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am pretty sure the correct unit to use in terms of material converted is the mol $\endgroup$
    – skout
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ in the context of this discussion about neutron-to-proton conversions and the related radiation risks, it's more useful to use mass units. This is because the radiation dose that an individual would receive depends on the total number of decays, which is proportional to the mass of the material, given that each neutron decay releases a fixed amount of energy $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ Nevertheless, we can still convert the mass unit (microgram) to the amount of substance unit (mole) using Avogadro's number. If we're converting neutrons to protons, and considering a neutron and a proton each have a mass of approximately 1 atomic mass unit (amu), 1 microgram of neutrons is approximately 6.022 x 10^17 neutrons (or 1 micro-mol), using Avogadro's number of 6.022 x 10^23 particles/mol. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, how do I make sure they can transmutate more than 1 micro-mol of material? $\endgroup$
    – skout
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 1:06
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How much could you transform without killing yourself? Microscopic amounts.

What you're talking about is how the atom bombs work. If you're converting hydrogen to helium, three ounces would be enough to put a rocket into orbit. It's powerful stuff. That's why fusion power is so highly sought after.

Higher element conversions (up to iron) would provide less energy per transformation, but you're still talking about enough to blow whatever you were transforming into a high-pressure gas.

When you get above that level, then you have to put energy INTO it. Here's where the fun comes in. If you want to convert lead to gold, you could theoretically simultaneously convert a small amount of hydrogen into helium, balancing the energy requirements. I remember reading a "goose that layed golden eggs, for realz" story that had this as a premise.

The problem here is that you'd have to balance the two very, very precisely. A micromole off, and you'd be dust.

@Skout informs me that the nuclear weak force isn't involved in nuclear reactions, which suggests that he/she doesn't really understand now nuclear reactions work, so here's a primer.

When you combine four hydrogen atoms into a helium atom, two of the protons turn into neutrons. That involves soaking in a pair of electrons, and flipping two up quarks to become down quarks. Not sure how you're going to accomplish that except through the nuclear weak force.

If you just go flipping neutrons and protons in heavier elements, you get an unstable isotope that will spit neutrons and/or alpha particles. Neutrons will decay into a proton and electron in around 10 minutes, so after it bounces off your genetic structure, it turns into hydrogen.

No matter what way you go, manipulating the weak force will cause nuclear reactions.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am talking about the weak interaction, not fusion or fission, but the interaction which changes quark flavor. $\endgroup$
    – skout
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ @skout, that's what I'm talking about. How do you think that four protons turn into a helium nucleus? You're talking about the underlying forces that allow fusion to work, but without the massive amounts of pressure in a star. You'd be creating unstable isotopes, which then decay, spitting out neutrons and alpha particles. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ I do know enough about fusion to know the weak force is involved, but my question still does not talk about fusion. Radioactive decay is a form of weak interaction that occurs on earth that does not result in fusion. Fusion also involves the strong force, not just the weak force, but I am talking about transmutation that exclusively involves the weak force, not the strong force. Do you think the work force is sufficient to fuse particles together? No, it is not. Your answer is entirely irrelevant to my question. $\endgroup$
    – skout
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 1:04

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