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Unlimited number of elements?

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HorseSpace

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It is said that before supernovas went supernova the universe contained zero of the heavy elements such as iron.

Today we know 117 of those and talks are that the island of stability is right around the corner too.

If thats the case, isnt the universe progressive and not "closed"?

I guess what I am trying to say is that we as race should then be able to create a universe which the universe cannot do itself anymore, true?

What am I missing?
 
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MeteorWayne

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Well, for one thing, many of the highest mass elements were never created by the Universe, it took the ingenuity and efforts of humans to create them.
 
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raptorborealis

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It depends what ones means by 'create'. An element is simply a certian configuration of mass and energy...all of which exists regardless of what elements they form.

Not we (nor anything else) is separate from the Universe. What we do as humans is part of the universe...we can't add or subtract from the amount of mass and energy. I can make a cake but I can't make it out of 'nothing'. I don't add or subtract anythihg from the universe by making a cake and nor does man add or subtract anything fronm the universe by making an element.
 
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Yuri_Armstrong

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Elements are determined by protons right? What's stopping us from adding more protons?
 
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ramparts

Guest
Yuri_Armstrong":1lkwjeef said:
Elements are determined by protons right? What's stopping us from adding more protons?
As well as neutrons and electrons. You try putting a bunch of those together and making them stick :lol: It's definitely not as easy to make an element as just "place these particles here." The main problem, though, is that even once such a heavy element is created, it's typically only stable for a fraction of a second before decaying into lighter atoms.
 
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HorseSpace

Guest
Well unless they for some reason show extraordinary half time compared to what we are used to.

Thats what I mean, we will (or may be) able to create something that cannot be created in nature. Not that it is not a part of the laws in the universe, but the universe cannot come up with it itself, which somehow makes it interesting to imagine how that will affect the universe itself.

Before the universe invented iron, we could not be created. That would in turn mean we can create something that would also make the universe more diverse from what is was to what it became to what it will become (due to us).

I guess my question also applies to isotopes. There shouldn be any upper barrier for how many isotopes we can create true? (if they are staying stable that is)
 
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MeteorWayne

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Yuri_Armstrong":blrvcm3h said:
Elements are determined by protons right? What's stopping us from adding more protons?
Physics... :)
 
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vattas

Guest
I think that every element that humans have created, is being created continuously by nature. The problem with these elements is that, as others stated above, they are very short lived, so we cannot find them or detect them in spectra. Or am I wrong about the latter?
 
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MeteorWayne

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vattas said:
I think that every element that humans have created, is being created continuously by nature. The problem with these elements is that, as others stated above, they are very short lived, so we cannot find them or detect them in spectra. Or am I wrong about the latter?[/quot.tinge]

You are wrong. There is no natural process that explores the region of nuclear density that we are currently investigating
 
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vattas

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Hm. OK. I just thought that same conditions that can be created in laboratories exist in some extreme environments in the nature.
 
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raptorborealis

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HorseSpace":3d0l1tse said:
Well unless they for some reason show extraordinary half time compared to what we are used to.

Thats what I mean, we will (or may be) able to create something that cannot be created in nature
Man is a part of Nature as anything else is a part of nature. the paricles and energy that make up humans is the same as particles and energy that makes up everything else.

Unless you introduce somre artificial god element then man is not 'apart' in some way.

I'd also 'assume' that there a few thousand intgelligence life forms per galaxy and this means that there are quintillions of ETs that dabble in the structures of heavy elements....nothing special about the role of humans.
 
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ramparts

Guest
MeteorWayne":2zd391bz said:
vattas":2zd391bz said:
I think that every element that humans have created, is being created continuously by nature. The problem with these elements is that, as others stated above, they are very short lived, so we cannot find them or detect them in spectra. Or am I wrong about the latter?[/quot.tinge]

You are wrong. There is no natural process that explores the region of nuclear density that we are currently investigating
Welllllll, it's more subtle than that. raptor's post above is right; we are a part of Nature, and strictly speaking if we can create something, then Nature can. It may be true that there's no process in Nature which can create these elements without intelligent involvement, but that isn't a fundamental restriction on the laws of physics, just an incidental outcome of them. Think about the Universe before stars formed; for those first few hundreds of thousands of years, there were no natural processes that could create basic elements like oxygen or carbon, either. Whether or not "natural processes" exist for creating something can be a tricky question.
 
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emperor_of_localgroup

Guest
vattas":3vkbqs4s said:
I think that every element that humans have created, is being created continuously by nature. The problem with these elements is that, as others stated above, they are very short lived, so we cannot find them or detect them in spectra. Or am I wrong about the latter?
Absolutely correct.
We can not create something that nature can not.

The only difference is we can create faster.
 
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Kessy

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MeteorWayne":2j5iq973 said:
You are wrong. There is no natural process that explores the region of nuclear density that we are currently investigating
[good naturedly pokes MeteorWayne] That we know about. Never forget that caveat. ;)

Anyway, I think the original question was really, what limits the size of stable nuclei? There are two main forces involved in the structure of atoms - the strong nuclear force and electromagnetism. (The weak nuclear force also plays a smaller role.) The strong force tries to pull the nucleus together while electromagnetism tries to pull it apart. In small atoms the two wind up balancing each other nicely, producing stable, long lived elements. The thing is that the strong force falls off very quickly with distance, while electromagnetism follows the inverse square law and falls off much more slowly. So as you add more and more protons and neutrons, the size of the nucleus starts to exceed the range of the strong force, and electromagnetism becomes more important, making the larger nuclei unstable.
 
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Ishimura_

Guest
I thought a 137 protons was the limit, but I can't remember what the explanation was... :oops:
 
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Astro_Robert

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My understanding about the theoretical 'island of stability' is that it is relative to other elements around it. For instance, when we find the next element that would be a 'noble gas' on the periodic table, it will still be radioactive, and still probably have a half life measured in seconds (as opposed to miliseconds). It is not like we are going to be able to build a space elevator out of element 135-ium.
 
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SpacedCase

Guest
Even though the electromagnetic force beats out the strong, don't forget about white dwarfs. I know its kind of a cheat but you could say every one is its own element. Pretty much...

This is probably absurd but try me. Since gravity can force the issue, why not electromagnetism? If EM forces dominate above element 117 or so, could EM solve the problem? Suppose something like a Bucky-ball could be given an enormous positive charge. It could form a cage not much bigger than the super-heavy's electron cloud (sans electron cloud, I guess) and possess a much bigger positive charge than the nucleus. Sort of just force it to hold together. I know. Probably crazy.
 
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Jimmyboy

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A small amount of Iron is formed in the centre of stars as they go supernova and then the core forms a blackhole, as stars cant compress iron atoms further, in my understanding, what happens in the centre of stars if there are heavier elements than iron present? cant these be compressed either?
 
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yevaud

Guest
vattas":23lmnfza said:
Hm. OK. I just thought that same conditions that can be created in laboratories exist in some extreme environments in the nature.
Well, that's technically correct, insofar as it goes. There's three processes whereby elements heavier than Iron are produced: Stars produce a certain small amount as their cores fuse (Stellar Nucleosynthesis). There's our well-known mechanism of these elements being produced in Supernovae (Supernova Nucleosynthesis). And, finally, there was a finite number of these elements created during the conditions present during the big bang (Big Bang Nucleosynthesis).

But in all cases, one must re-create extreme temperatures and pressures to allow these to form. That's usually why most of these Trans-Uranic elements are created via bombardment in accelerators and then the elements held in a Penning Trap - it's impossible to recreate the conditions, say, of a Supernova, except on a very tiny scale.

Ishimura_: the limit is due to rapidly increasing Columb forces.
 
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