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Author Topic: How do we know the periodic table represents 'all' elements of entire universe?  (Read 7803 times)

Offline _Stefan_

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We have a pretty small sample size; the Earth and our solar system and a certain amount of particles that find their way to Earth from outer space. Can we really say that the types of elements in our part of the universe are the same ones found in other parts of the universe? Could there be other 'elements' in the universe that follow a different system to the periodic table of Earth?

This question probably should be more about the types of matter, not just atoms, and their consistency in the universe.


 

another_someone

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We cannot know that the periodic table contains all of the elements in the universe, and most likely it does not.

What we can say is that the periodic table must already include all of the lighter elements in the periodic table (i.e. we know that there are no gaps in the periodic table to be filled, although it can always be extended towards the heavier elements).

We now know that what we define as an element has its characteristics determined by the number of protons in the nucleus (there can be differences in the number of neutrons, but these create different isotopes, that will effect the radioactivity of the element, but not its chemical properties).

We know that Hydrogen has one proton, and we can incrementally count - two protons for Helium, 3 protons for Lithium, etc.  In this was, we know where each element should be in the periodic table, and we know that there are no gaps (e.g. for any number between 1 and 92, we know that we have discovered in nature the corresponding element in nature, and for elements up to atomic number 118 we have synthesised by nuclear reactions, although in some cases not enough to even measure their qualities, but merely an atom or two, while in other cases we have produced more significant amounts of the element).

There very possibly are elements heavier than even 118 protons being created in the heart of large stars, but many of the elements are so unstable as to last only a few minutes, or not even that long, after they leave the star.
 

Offline eric l

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It may be possible that some elements we know exist in allotrope forms we do not know (as yet).  Like elementary carbon existing as graphite and diamond, sulphur exists also in different forms, same thing for phosphorus.  There may be other forms than white, red and black phosphorous - or is my imagination running wild on this ?   
 

Offline ukmicky

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There may be other forms than white, red and black phosphorous - or is my imagination running wild on this ?


No this is imagination running wild :)  .

Is it possible that in some far flung corner of the universe certain conditions, (hypernovae for instance)  have arising that have brought about a new particle that we haven't seen which does a similar job to the proton but creates different elements.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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No this is imagination running wild :)  .

Is it possible that in some far flung corner of the universe certain conditions, (hypernovae for instance)  have arising that have brought about a new particle that we haven't seen which does a similar job to the proton but creates different elements.

Highly unlikely. The Standard Model pretty much accounts for all fermionic particles. Plus, the proton is comprised of 3 quarks (I forget which 3 now) and I think it would be impossible to get any other combination of particles to do the same job.

There are heavier versions of those quarks, but they decay very quickly so anything they formed in combination would also be short-lived; too short-lived probably to attract neutrons & electrons.
« Last Edit: 10/08/2007 17:46:20 by DoctorBeaver »
 

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