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New Elements?

  1. Feb 7, 2013 #1
    I've heard chatter about possible new elements on other planets and even hidden on our own, Could this be possible?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

  4. Feb 7, 2013 #3
    Alright, thanks for answering.
  5. Feb 8, 2013 #4
    We do, but we do it the wrong way, because it is the only way we can.

    Starting from bismuth, half-life 10*19 years
    next is polonium, longest half-life 103 years, of isotope 209
    next, now odd number element is astatine, longest half-life 8,1 hours, of isotope 210
    Radon is an even element. Radon 211 has half-life 14,6 hours. Radon 212 has half-life 24 minutes, 213 in milliseconds, 214 less than μs...

    No isotope of over 215 nucleons can last a μs, right? No point of attempting to reach next period? No possibility of elements past 88 or 89 ever having existed even in stars?

    Wrong. Radon 222 has half-life of 3,8 days. Thorium 232 has half-life of 14 milliard years.

    But how could you ever make radon 222 from stable bismuth 209?
    You need to add 3 protons and 10 neutrons. No stable lithium 13 exists.

    How would you even know that there is long-lived radon 222 to synthesize?

    Now have a look around element number 100.
    Californium has short-lived isotopes 253, 255 and 256, which undergo beta decay. 256 has half-life 12 minutes - nothing known about 257.
    Einsteinium 257 has half-life 7,7 minutes, and undergoes beta decay. Es-258 has 3 minute half-life, but the very decay path is unknown. Es-259 also unknown (NOT known and verified short-lived).

    Fermium has no known beta active isotopes.

    Md has most massive isotope, Md-260, half-life 26 days. Md-261 unknown
    No and later - no known beta active isotopes.

    The elements from Cf on may have unknown, neutron-rich isotopes long lived by comparison to the known proton-rich isotopes.

    Pu-244 has half-life 80 million years. It has been searched in nature. Probably in vain - the experiments which did report success may have made errors.

    If elements past 98 do have long-lived, presumably neutron-rich isotopes which we cannot make, but nature can, then half-lives over 100 million years are not ruled out by evidence.
  6. Feb 8, 2013 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    100 million years half life is not enough for the isotope to survive in substantial amounts on Earth, as the Earth is around 4 billions years old. 0.540 is around 10-12.

    While I agree with you there is more to the problem than my short answer suggests, it is better for OP to start with the basic understanding of the processes involved. You know, walking before running and so on.
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