At the moment, teams of researchers from all over the world are trying to create the next element on the periodic table. It should be an atom that contains 119 protons. However, meanwhile, it seems that a scientist from the Michigan State University is busy trying to find an end to the said table. And he hasn’t had much success so far. Nobody has a clear answer regarding this mystery, and we still have a lot of secrets to discover. According to a study which the journal Nature Physics recently published, there are a lot of reasons why we should think that the periodic table is not infinite. But this doesn’t mean that figuring out where it ends is simpler now.
Now, the last element on the periodic table, and the current atom heavyweight champion is oganesson. It only existed for a brief moment, but it was shown to have 118 protons and 176 neutrons. Back in 2016, scientists gave it a name, along with three other heavyweight elements: nihodium, moscovium, and tennessine. But these very beefy elements are part of a new generation of elements in nuclear physics where the old rules do not apply anymore.
The mysterious end of the periodic table
According to nuclear physicist and leader of the study Witold Nazarewicz, these elements inhabit a particular corner of the nuclear landscape that we still don’t know too much about. There is, in fact, a theory according to which we could create a 184-proton element with some added neutrons to make the biggest nucleus ever. But there is a debate regarding the possibility of calling it an atom.
There is a problem with huge numbers of protons in one place. This group of electrostatic forces could prevent electrons from sticking to patterns and could also make the so-called Coulomb frustration. When this becomes big enough, the nucleuses themselves form voids and bulges that can easily destabilize them. Next year, Dmitri Mendeleev’s periodic table will turn 150-years old. But how many of its secrets we are yet to learn, that’s a mystery.
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