The price of each gram of this stone is up to 25 million USD. Each year, humans can only produce about one-thousandth of a gram.
People often think of gold or diamonds when talking about the most expensive substance in the world. However, there is an even more valuable substance, known as the most expensive in the world, when one gram of this substance is worth 650 kg of gold.
The stone we are talking about is a Californium. Californium is a chemical element that can only be created artificially on Earth but is believed to have originated in a supernova explosion. Its price per gram is from 25 to 27 million USD. Many people estimate 1 gram of californium worth hundreds of kilograms of gold. They also argue that just 1 gram can help them live happily for the rest of their lives. It seems impossible for even the richest person in the world to buy a ring with a stone made from californium.
Californium – an actinium metal – the sixth transuranic element to be synthesized. This is also one of the elements with the highest atomic mass. Californium is a silver-white solid metal with a soft, malleable texture and can be cut with a regular knife and vaporized at a temperature of 300°C. Due to its unstable chemical nature, californium content is rare and almost absent.
Scientists estimate that the total amount of californium in the world does not exceed 5 kg, while the amount of gold on earth has reached 60 trillion tons. This is one of the reasons why this substance is so expensive.
Californium was synthesized in 1950 at the nuclear research laboratory at the University of California (the element’s name is taken from where it was synthesized) by using alpha particles to bombard the element Curium – Cm.
In 1960, the US National Laboratory produced californium through a high-speed isotope reactor, but the yield was extremely low only a few micrograms. In the 1990s, the annual production of californium was only about half a gram. The price of this substance at that time was 1 billion USD/gram. Currently, in the world, only the United States and Russia produce californium. China can produce but uses equipment and raw materials provided by Russia. Strictly speaking, China does not have the ability to produce californium on its own.
There is no doubt that California is valuable because of its extreme rarity. Another reason is that preparing californium is very complicated, consuming a lot of time, effort and cost. Processing equipment alone costs tens of billions of dollars. Before 1975, only one gram of californium worldwide was produced in the United States. Later, Russia also mastered the technology to prepare californium, but the output was much lower than that of the United States.
Currently, the annual output of californium in two major developed countries in the world, the United States and Russia, only reaches a few milligrams, making the price of this substance expensive. The californium price has decreased, estimated at about 25 million USD/gram.
Many people ask, what effect does californium have that makes it so expensive? After all, no matter how expensive, material things have no value if they have no use value. The usefulness of californium mainly serves 3 jobs.
The first is the research value of nuclear physics. Dust from the explosion of atomic bombs, thermonuclear bombs and neutron bombs contains californium, but the concentration is very low and cannot be extracted with current technology. However, scientists can study the production of californium during nuclear fission. Second, californium can be used to identify antiques with a fairly high accuracy rate. However, most people cannot buy it even if they have money.
Third is medical value. This is the most important point and also the most practical point that californium can serve humanity.
Currently, californium has many chemical isotopes, of which the most common isotope californium-252 has a half-life of 2.64 years, meaning that every 2.64 years the amount of californium-252 is halved. Research shows that one microgram of californium-252 can release 139 million neutrons in one minute. This is an extremely strong source of radiation.
A powerful source of neutrons can destroy cancer cells. Therefore, people use this special function of californium to treat cancer. The treatment effect of californium is much superior to conventional radiotherapy. Currently, this is the most advanced and effective treatment method in radiotherapy.
Scientists have made the californium-252 neutron source into a very small needle (about a few micrograms), implanted directly into tumor tissue of the human body. Strong rays emitted from the californium neutron source can kill cancer cells, with little impact on other healthy tissues in the human body.
Californium is effective in treating malignant tumors, but it is expensive and unaffordable to the average patient. Even a microgram of californium (one millionth of a gram) is very valuable, not to mention medical equipment and treatment costs. There is information that billionaire Steve Jobs used californium radiation therapy when he treated cancer.
Of course, everything has both advantages and disadvantages. Although californium is very effective in curing malignant tumors, it is a type of strong radioactive “nuclear element” that is extremely harmful to the human body.
Some rich people wanted to use californium to make a ring, but this dream could not come true. Even the richest person in the world cannot wear a ring made from californium. In theory, current technology could turn californium into a ring, which is still practically impossible.
The first reason is that californium is extremely scarce, exists in a very small state (a few microns in diameter) and cannot be collected to make rings. Second, due to the unstable structure of californium, it evaporates at 300 degrees Celsius and can “disappear” when exposed to high temperatures. Third, due to the strong radioactivity of californium, wearing it is similar to courting death. Even though rich people have money, their lives are the most important thing.