# Could there ever be a way to safely handle visible amounts of elements like astatine, francium, or protactinium? [closed]

This is something I'd actually be interested in doing if possible. I've asked about artificial stability here https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/584595/could-there-at-least-theoretically-ever-be-a-way-to-prevent-radioactive-atoms because that would be ideal (it would be nice if these rare elements could stick around), but I'm not sure if that could ever be practical. Note that I don't mean with current technology; I'm well aware that it's currently impossible (at least in the case of At and Fr). I mean with any technology that could potentially be developed in the future.

• The UKAEA has extracted 125g of Protactinium back in the sixties from old fuel rods. As for Fr and As, of course not.
– Karl
Oct 17 '20 at 4:01
• You cannot physically handle those elements because there isn't sufficient amount of those element available to handle in the first place. There is only 25g and 30g of astatine and francium available at a time in the whole of Earth respectively. Those are really rare elements. Don't forget, they are also radioactive. Oct 17 '20 at 4:58
• Title says it all - Titles should never say all, such questions are not good questions. Titles should be just a top of an iceberg. Oct 17 '20 at 5:43
• In a sense, the real safety problem is not with us but with the samples of these elements. We can don protective equipment to fend off the effects of radioactive decay, but the samples cannot. Apr 29 '21 at 9:46
• They have been clickbait videos of throwing francium into water ,saying that it would cause this insanely large explosion.This is probably not true and there's no visible amount of francium as it has a half-life of 22 minutes. And the largest amount of francium atoms ever captured was about 300,000 atoms which is invisible to the naked eye. Jun 8 '21 at 2:47

Sometimes it is possible in very special cases to affect the half time.

The nucleus could be denied the electron capture as the isotope only ( or major ) mode of beta decay, keeping fully ionized atoms in cyclotron or similar device.

Or, some nuclei form nucleus isomers with different decay rates. A nucleus can be excited to the metastable isomer which may have counter-intuitively longer half-time than the base state. See as rather rare such an exception $$\ce{^{180}Ta}$$ with $$t_{1/2}=\pu{8.125 h}$$ and naturally occurring metastable $$\ce{^{180m}Ta}$$ without observed decay.

But such elements would not be in a visible form.

Even if some visible amount of francium or astatine had been obtained, it would have been fast evaporated and ionized to plasma by enormous produced heat and flow of ionizating particles, evaporating also it's container.