Is it possible to find new elements in the universe?

Apr 19, 2021
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There are 118 elements in the periodic table of elements.
Is it possible to find new elements in the universe?

Do you think discovery of new elements could help to achieve significant scientific progress, ex. development of technology which is
currently sci-fi such as inter-solar space travel, teleportation or nano technology?
 
Jan 23, 2020
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Any new element would have to have an atomic number greater than 118, and although there may be an island of stability at about 120, such would be so scarce and short-lived that it is very unlikely that they could be detected astronomically.
 
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Nov 19, 2021
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Detection of new atomic elements is done by oberving their breakdown fragments including lower atomic weight elements and gamma rays. Such information gives us a window into those parts of nuclear physics we don't understand and brings us closer to anti-gravity shoes, flying cars and a good 5 cent cigar.
 
The limit to the max. atomic number is tied to both the nuclear force value and the electric charge value. Increasing the number of protons in a nucleus will increase the total repulsion since each proton has a charge. I read that 126 protons is the known limit, but as noted by Petermabey, instability becomes a big issue with these larger nuclei.

But, if you had a magic wand -- many members here have those, btw ;) -- and could stick some negative charges in the nucleus, then you might be able to add more protons & neutrons.

If something is discovered that could augment the nuclear force, then that would help, but this is pure fantasy at this point.
 
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I don't see a lot of hope for new technology just from finding or being able to create atomic nuclei with more than 118 protons. We might learn something about nuclear physics in the process, but we have already done that getting to 118 protons, without getting any new ideas about anti-gravity, superluminal velocity, or teleportation. Only Hollywood seems to (want us to) believe that a couple more protons will somehow make the fantastic possible.
 
Apr 19, 2021
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The limit to the max. atomic number is tied to both the nuclear force value and the electric charge value. Increasing the number of protons in a nucleus will increase the total repulsion since each proton has a charge. I read that 126 protons is the known limit, but as noted by Petermabey, instability becomes a big issue with these larger nuclei.
I must admit I didn't know that the number associated with an element is "the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom"

So I guess then discovery of new materials or substances is more likely and with greater potential than a single element?
 
Nov 19, 2021
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Yes, each element (a certain number of protons) has a large number of neutrons it can harbor, each combination being a different isotope, thus a different "material or substance" but not being a new element. At high numbers of protons, most every combination of number of neutrons is unstable thus radioactive thus of short life thus of little practical use.
 
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Good article.
It says, the size of atom is 1e-8 meter, size of nucleus 1e-15 meter.
I calculate:
Ratio is 1:10,000,000
If an atom was 100 km in diameter, the nucleus would be the size of a grape.
 
Getting back to new elements:

The number of the protons in an atom's nucleus is what defines an "element". The number of neutrons in an atom's nucleus may be different for the same number of protons, so the various numbers of neutrons make the atoms different "isotopes" of the same element. For instance, hydrogen atoms most usually have just a single proton in the nucleus, but can also have one or two neutrons accompany the proton. These heavier isotopes of hydrogen are given specific names (deuterium and tritium), but most isotopes are simply called by their element name and the total number of protons plus neutrons. For example, carbon has six protons and six, seven or eight neutrons, and those isotopes of carbon are simply called "carbon-12", "carbon-13" and "carbon-14". The first 2 are stable, while carbon-14 is radioactive and decays with a half-life of 5,730 years. Carbon 14 would decay away to undetectable levels if it was not constantly being produce in our atmosphere by cosmic rays (by a process that I won't go into for this post).

For the most part, all isotopes of a particular element have about the same chemistry, because the number of electrons in an (electrically neutral) atom is the same as the number of protons in its nucleus, and the energy levels of those electrons is also mainly a function of the number of protons. So, for instance, the chemistry of carbon-14 in our bodies is the same as that of carbon-12. Scientists use the fact that just about everything alive absorbs some carbon-14, while alive, but after death, it decays away with that half-life of 5,730 years. So, they can measure the amount of remaining carbon-14 to estimate how long something has been dead, at least for periods on the order of tens of thousands of years.

Anyway, there are a lot of processes that change atoms from one element to another, including fission (splitting of a nucleus into smaller pieces), fusion (combining 2 or more nuclei into one heavier nucleus), radioactive decay (the nucleus spitting out electrons - known as beta particles, protons, neutrons or helium nuclei, known as alpha particles), or spalling where something like a neutron hits a nucleus and a proton comes out - which is how carbon-14 is made from nitrogen-14 atoms.

We think that atoms of elements heavier than helium (element #2) have all been produced by fusion in stars long after the "Big Bang" produced the original hydrogen and helium. Some of that production was due to gravity-induced extreme pressure and extreme temperatures in the center of stars fusing nuclei together. That got elements up to iron (element #26 with a bit more than that number of neutrons), but beyond that, it takes more energy to fuse elements with even more protons than the energy that is released by their fusion process. So, at some point, stars run out of fusion fuel and gravity makes them collapse. That collapse suddenly makes tremendously high pressures and is thought to very quickly make the heavier elements, at least up to uranium (element #92) before the star explodes as a supernova. But elements with more than 82 protons (lead) are all unstable and experience radioactive decay, so they do not last forever, and only a few like uranium-235 and uranium-238 have lasted the billions of years that it took for our solar system to form from the dust of long-ago supernovas. Most of the elements on Earth that are heavier than lead are the products of the radioactive decay chains that start with Uranium and Thorium and end at stable isotopes of lead.

So, depending on how long ago a star went supernova and made a lot of heavy elements beyond lead, less of those heavier-than-lead elements will be around as those remnants age. We do know that element 92 gets made by star supernovas. But we don't know how many other, maybe heavier elements also get made and have already decayed away before humans evolved and started looking for them.

We do know that humans can make uranium atoms fission and release neutrons that get absorbed in other heavy element nuclei and make elements heavier than uranium. For instance, Uranium-238 can absorb a neutron and emit a beta particle and become plutonium-239, which is also radioactive and decays faster than uranium-238. We call plutonium "man-made" but it was also probably made in star supernovas, too, and has just decayed away by now, around this part of our galaxy.

We also know that humans can make heavier atoms by shooting nuclei of one type of atom at another type of atom with enough energy to make then fuse into a new element. That is how we got up to element #118. But, those elements decay very fast, and are of little value for anything beyond experiments used to develop the theory of how atomic nuclei work in nature.

The theory of the atomic nucleus structure is not completely developed, even now, so there is some conjecture that, well above element #118, there might be some stable isotopes, or maybe some that just live long enough to have some usefulness - which I think was your question. I will let you read about that here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_of_stability .

The question is, if there really are elements that are stable or at least long-lived in a radioactive sense, why are we not finding them in nature? Do they not get produced in supernovas? It seems likely that all sorts of elements with more protons than 92 get produced in supernovas and just have such short half-lives that they have all decayed away by now. And, trying to look closely at the remnants of recent supernovas to find elements that we do not already know about is tricky, because we don't have any good way to know what to look for. There are some theories about what those elements would look like in emission spectra, but who knows if those theories are correct?

So, the odds seem low that we will find any new elements with long enough lifetimes to be useful. And, if we do find some, there is no reason to assume that they will have some magical properties. They will certainly be very heavy.

The thing that is most likely to show us some unexpected and perhaps very useful new physics is this question of what is "dark matter". We know so little about it that we have no idea if it could give us a way to do things we now think are not possible. But, that is the type of hope that keeps scientists probing for more understanding.
 
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Feb 14, 2020
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The thing that is most likely to show us some unexpected and perhaps very useful new physics is this question of what is "dark matter". We know so little about it that we have no idea if it could give us a way to do things we now think are not possible. But, that is the type of hope that keeps scientists probing for more understanding.
If there is a place in this physical universe to produce rare combinations of unstable nuclei we know some of these could be where matter changes state or phases such as Black Holes, Neutron stars, fusion areas and supernova, etc.
The earlier posts and the last being so detailed is appreciated.

Now the last paragraph is what I am studying.
DM is where the rules of how nucleons are multiplied in a nucleus are generated.
Actually DM is what generates Quanta of energy and mass and forms the atomic nucleus as its first structure and building block and further specifies how atom, molecules and other massive bodies are built further.

I am soon going to publish this, but the prescription is available for thousands of years and also includes 118 as magic number of stability. It includes descriptions of resonances and transformations and progression to origin of mass and massive nucleons such as p, n, and e (comes outside nucleus).
the electron because of its transit from nucleus remembers or is charge balanced etc.
More later .. the Math for this nuclear structure is multidimensional geometry and QFT.

Regards,

Ravi
(Dr. Ravi Sharma, Ph.D. USA)
NASA Apollo Achievement Award
Chair, Ontology Summit 2022
Senior Enterprise Architect
Particle and Space Physicist
 
May 14, 2021
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I don't doubt, what with the energies involved in collapse into white dwarf, neutron stars, and the like, supernovae, etc. that some really exotic stuff is created, but decays withing nanoseconds into more familiar elements by the time the stuff expands to the point we can detect it.
 
Nov 24, 2022
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I think it is highly unlikely that we have discovered all the possible elements out there. I believe we will find new elements and under different conditions some quite incredible discoveries may be waiting for us.
 
Feb 14, 2020
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Karlp295
There could be exotic stellar, galactic, inter-intra and black holes spaces where transient or transitive rules apply.
For example We talk of temperature of inhomogeneous charged plasma and ions? only quantum description would take us close to ionic description!
 
Nov 19, 2021
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Yes, in exotic conditions there are many new forms of matter possible. But here in everyday life on Earth we have found all the stable ones. If there were exotic stable elements wandering around the Milky Way they would be here on Earth, embedded in our rocks/air/water. They would have shown up on any of the millions of atomic mass spectrometry runs made by every large university in the western world in the various sciences over the last 110 years since the mass spectrograph was invented.
 
Nov 19, 2021
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Yes but transient new isotopes as Glen Seaborg and Lawrence teams discovered at Livermore
I said we had found all the stable ones. We find unstable ones all the time. There is a new machine starting up that is expected to discover perhaps 10000 new ones out of the possible 40,000 there are. All are of extremely short lifetime, useful only to advance our knowledge base. They won't find any non radioactive, long lifetime ones. Too many of the already known rules of construction of the atomic nucleus preclude them.
 

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