Monday, April 14, 2008

The Island of Stability

Although everyone else has moved on from nuclear physics I got thinking about how an "island of stability" was mentioned in chem last year. There was a chart in the reading that showed as the masses of elements got greater and the ratio of neutrons to protons grew ever larger the stability rapidly decreased.
According to wikipedia, Glenn T. Seaborg for whom seaborgium is named after, first proposed the idea of super heavy elements that would be stable. (unlike elements like seaborgium itself which has only lasted one hour or element 118, ununoctium which only lasts 0.89 ms.)
Although the half lives of elements in the island are uncertain. Some physicists think they are basically short, only minutes and days long. However, some theoretical calculations indicate that their half lives may be long (some calculations put it on the order of 109 years). It is possible that these elements could have unusual chemical properties, and, if long lived enough, various applications (such as targets in nuclear physics and neutron sources). However, the isotopes of several of these elements still have too few neutrons to be stable.
Perhaps in our lifetimes we will see the "shores" of this island reached, with a radical application ready. Anyways, I'm tired, have a nice 30 minutes of sunday left everyone.

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