MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What uses could be found for new stable period 7 elements?

Area: Chemistry
Posted By: John Haberman, Space Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Center, Greenbelt MD
Date: Wed Nov 5 16:37:04 1997
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 876149424.Ch


When the first of the "superheavy" elements were synthesized the existing molecular structure models predicted that the new elements beginning with atomic number 114 or so would be more stable. This created much interest in synthesizing these elements. As is often the situation the models used are a good starting point but they are not absolutely correct. The elements so far created have not proved to be as stable as expected.

If you look at an Extended Periodic Table you can make some general statements about the behavior of the anticipated new elements. For example, element 114 should have many chemical properties similar to those of Carbon, Silicon, Germanium, Tin, and Lead.

At this time it is difficult to speculate about actual uses for these superheavy elements. It appears that they will be radioactive and have a short halflife. We can speculate that they might prove useful as chemical tracers. Some are fantasizing that these superheavy elements provide the power sources necessary for space travel by other lifeforms in the universe. One unfortunate aspect in modern research is that applied research is "in" while basic research is "out". This means that a basic researcher must often make some claim as to the usefulness of their project in order to obtain the necessary funds. My opinion is that this is the reason why some make the wonderful claims about the usefulness and value of the new superheavy chemical elements.

You can learn more about one of the ongoing Superheavy Elemental Research projects by clicking on the link.

You can also find more information using any of the www search engines and search using words like superheavy chemical elements and such.

John Haberman

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