Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Artificial elements. whats the point?

  1. Feb 6, 2010 #1
    Hi everybody. Can I just start off by saying how much I enjoy reading all your posts and trying to increase my scientific knowledge. But now its time for me to ask my own questions. I've just finished watching a programme about elements and was wondering.
    1.what use do we have of some of the new artificial elements mankind has created?
    2.there are 92 elements which occur naturally on earth so could it be said that this is the number of natural elements that occur in the universe
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2010 #2

    Astronuc

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Scientists were looking for an 'island' of stability, i.e. a superheavy element that would have a relatively long half-life. There really is no practical use. It's more a matter of curiosity.

    As far as we know, the 92 elements are found throughout the universe. I believe Tc was found in certain stars. Tc has no stable isotope. It is produced artificially by neutron (capture) irradiation of Mo-98 and a subsequent beta decay.

    Pu (Z=94) would also be considered natural, but the half-lives of it's more common isotopes Pu-238 - 242 are short, < 373 ky. The longest lived isotope, Pu-244, has a half-life of 80 million years, but it's rather rare.

    Another element, astatine, also has not stable isotopes. The half-lives of its isotopes are also short so that it is found in trace quantities in nature. It is part of the decay chain of the heavier actinides.
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook