Is there no stable isotope of Tungsten?

In summary, the conversation discusses the graph of isotopes and their stability, specifically focusing on the elements Tungsten, Technetium, and Prometheum. The graph shows that there are only 90 stable nuclei, while the others may have long half-lives and are therefore considered "observationally stable". The conversation also mentions that the alpha decay of Tungsten isotopes is theoretical, indicating that there are some isotopes with extremely long half-lives that cannot be measured.
  • #1
swampwiz
571
83
I was looking at this neat graph of all the isotopes and which ones are stable and how they decay:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipe...otopes_en.svg/715px-Table_isotopes_en.svg.png

The black squares represent stable isotopes, and columns that have no such black squares have no stable isotopes. OK, I see Technetium & Prometheum, but I have also noticed such a column for Tungsten. The wiki article on Tungsten isotopes says that alpha decay for some of these is "theoretical". What is this all about?
 
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  • #2
I would say it means that there are Tungsten isotopes which have very long half lifes.
So long that it can't be measured, but not like C12 which is stable as the word stable can mean.
 
  • #3
There are only 90 stable nuclei. 163 are energetically allowed to decay - sometimes via odd processes like double beta decay - but the decays are so slow that no decay has ever been observed. We call them "observationally stable".
 
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Related to Is there no stable isotope of Tungsten?

1. What is an isotope?

An isotope is a form of an element that has a different number of neutrons in its nucleus compared to the most common form of the element. This results in a different atomic mass for the isotope.

2. Why is Tungsten's most stable isotope unstable?

Tungsten's most stable isotope, W-180, is unstable because it has an odd number of protons and neutrons in its nucleus. This causes it to have a higher energy state and makes it more prone to radioactive decay.

3. Are there any other stable isotopes of Tungsten?

No, there are no other stable isotopes of Tungsten. All of its isotopes are either unstable or have a very short half-life, making them unstable in the long term.

4. Why is Tungsten's instability not commonly known?

Tungsten's instability is not commonly known because it is a relatively uncommon element and is not used in everyday applications. Additionally, its most stable isotope, W-180, has a half-life of over 1 trillion years, so its instability is not immediately apparent.

5. Can Tungsten's unstable isotopes be used in any way?

Yes, some of Tungsten's unstable isotopes, such as W-188, can be used in nuclear medicine for imaging and therapy. However, these isotopes must be produced in a controlled environment and have a short half-life, making them unsuitable for long-term use.

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