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Questions tagged [elements]

A pure chemical substance consisting of a unique type of atom with a distinguished by its atomic mass.

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6 answers
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The last element's atomic number

I was just thinking what can be the last atomic number that can exist within the range of permissible radioactivity limit and considering all other factors in quantum physics and chemical factors.
Devgeet Patel's user avatar
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4 answers
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Why do the names of most chemical elements end with -um or -ium?

Why do the names of most chemical elements end with -um or -ium for both primordial and synthetic elements?
lambda23's user avatar
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39 votes
6 answers
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Why do we use helium in balloons?

While I was looking at the periodic table today, I realised that there were gases that were much lighter than helium such as hydrogen. If hydrogen is lighter than helium, why do we insist on using ...
Ayush Madan's user avatar
34 votes
1 answer
19k views

Melting and boiling point trend in Group II

The following picture shows the melting and boiling point trends down group II elements. I have added question marks where the variability in data was rather disturbing (over two hundred degrees ...
Linear Christmas's user avatar
27 votes
1 answer
11k views

Why do people often capitalize element names?

According to IUPAC rules, names of chemical elements should not be capitalized. See Wikipedia’s take on the issue: According to IUPAC, chemical elements are not proper nouns in English; ...
F'x's user avatar
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23 votes
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Why is gold so popular in nanotechnology?

Gold is a very popular metal in nanotechnology. It is often used as a substrate in electronic applications, as a core of functionalized nanoparticles, and more. Why is gold so attractive? Why are ...
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21 votes
7 answers
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What is the difference between an element and an atom?

First, I would like to quote sentences from a book introducing elements and atoms: An element is a fundamental (pure) form of matter that cannot be broken down to a simpler form. Elements are made up ...
Jeffery's user avatar
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4 answers
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If you put two blocks of an element together, why don't they bond?

Say you have two lumps or blocks of an element, like lithium for example, say in the form of two bars. Why, when you bring the two bars together so that they touch each other, do they not instantly ...
Paul's user avatar
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21 votes
1 answer
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Why is beryllium transparent to x-rays?

Beryllium has other fancy applications. It is transparent to x-rays, so it's used in the windows of x-ray tubes, which need to be strong enough to hold a perfect vacuum, yet thin enough to let the ...
favor's user avatar
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20 votes
3 answers
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Is hydrogen bonding generally defined to include only three period two elements?

Traditionally, hydrogen bonding has been defined to only include interactions between a positively polarized hydrogen and three period-two elements: nitrogen, oxygen, and fluorine. Why was this ...
Dissenter's user avatar
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4 answers
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Will adding up protons and electrons (without neutrons) create a new element?

If protons have a positive charge and electrons have a negative charge, can we add up several protons and electrons together to create a new element, without adding neutrons to hold the nuclei ...
soundslikefiziks's user avatar
19 votes
2 answers
3k views

Do the names of some elements have anything to do with planets?

There are elements like neptunium and plutonium in the periodic table. Did their discovery have anything to do with Neptune and Pluto? Or are they randomly assigned with such names?
Manisha Poudel's user avatar
19 votes
2 answers
5k views

Is the relative natural abundance of isotopes of an element the same everywhere?

Wherever you find potassium, the isotopes are present in a set percentage that exists the same everywhere in nature, but why is that? Does it have something to do with how the element is produced?
HyperLuminal's user avatar
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17 votes
1 answer
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What is the melting point of diamond?

Textbooks and the online reference differ about this and there are more than two answers.
user3286264's user avatar
16 votes
1 answer
772 views

How did Mendeleev know elements from compounds or mixtures?

I read that Mendeleev initially thought didymium was an element, but it was actually a mixture. How did he know the rest of the chemicals in the periodic table were elements and not compounds, ...
Paddyseo's user avatar
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1 answer
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Why is a temporary name given to an element with an atomic number above 100?

All the elements with an atomic number more than 100 are given temporary names by IUPAC according to nomenclature rules. For example, element 101 was temporarily named "Unnilunium" until they give it ...
Freddy's user avatar
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16 votes
2 answers
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Do non-English speaking countries use the same element symbols?

The question does sound pretty absurd, but hear me out first. The Periodic Table of the Elements, as I know it, is supposed to be a common standard adopted by the global scientific community. However,...
paracetamol's user avatar
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4 answers
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Why is fluorine more reactive than chlorine?

Why is fluorine more reactive than chlorine despite chlorine having a higher electron affinity?
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4 answers
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Can osmium react with oxygen at room temperature?

I’m an avid collector of elements (I love shiny rocks - don’t judge). I’m looking to buy some osmium, as it’s one of the heaviest and hardest metals out there. However, people online told me to avoid ...
Mister SirCode's user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
7k views

Why do some element symbols contain a single letter while others contain two letters?

As the title says, why do some element symbols contain a single letter while others contain two letters?
Endy Sun's user avatar
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1 answer
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Why is osmium the densest known element?

Why is osmium so dense despite there being heavier elements after it in the periodic table?
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14 votes
8 answers
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Are there any good examples of commonly ingested molecules that contain particular toxic individual elements?

In the house on my own and an article popped up on my feed with the following statement: While the Government has insisted the chemical is safe, cadmium is recognised as a cause of lung cancer ...
Toni Leigh's user avatar
14 votes
5 answers
5k views

Is there a way to contain fluorine gas for long term so that it can be visually observed?

Bromine, chlorine and iodine can all be sealed in a glass container for display without the elements reacting with the glass. But if you try to seal fluorine in glass I believe it will react and fog ...
docscience's user avatar
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14 votes
1 answer
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What makes carbon special and versatile?

My teacher told me that carbon's tetravalency and high catenation ability makes it special and is the reason why there are millions of compounds of carbon. 1) Silicon is tetravalent too but doesn't ...
SMcCK's user avatar
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1 answer
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Why is Astatine monoatomic?

I learnt that halogens always form covalent bonds to becoms diatomic molecules. So why is astatine monoatomic? I mean they have the same properties, why shouldn't they all be diatomic?
Simon-Nail-It's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
7k views

Which elements can be diatomic?

Which elements can be diatomic and why? Motivation Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen and the Halogens tend to be thermodynamically stable as a diatomic molecule at room temperature, and are usually ...
Ali Caglayan's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
4k views

Why are some elements more abundant than others in the universe?

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. But what makes it so? At the time of big bang, what made certain elements more abundant than the others? I don't find this order of abundance ...
Arishta's user avatar
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12 votes
2 answers
834 views

Can we process waste just by decomposing it to homogenous mass and extracting the elements from it?

I. e., what if we just burn trash completely or dissolve it in acid, get the resulting paste and extract pure chemical elements out of it by applying some physics and/or chemistry to it until no more ...
hijarian's user avatar
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12 votes
3 answers
15k views

What is dust made of?

I was cleaning my blinds today, and wanted to know what the primary components of dust are. I know that it is made of microorganisms and other particles, but I do not want to guess that it will be $\...
Asker123's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
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Confusion over boiling point of gallium

I am completing a project on gallium, and I need to include its boiling point. I thought that this would be fairly simple to look up, however, it appears that different sources quote different ...
David's user avatar
  • 123
12 votes
1 answer
7k views

Phosphorus standard state

Why is white phosphorus considered to be the standard state of phosphorus although it is only metastable? Red phosphorus is thermodynamically more stable than white phosphorus, yet it is not the ...
Rohan Rajpal's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
7k views

Reasons for low melting point of gallium

J.D. Lee writes in Concise Inorganic Chemistry: Gallium has an unusual structure. Each atom has one closest neighbor at a distance of 2.43 Å. This remarkable structure tends towards discrete diatomic ...
William R. Ebenezer's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
14k views

Two different electronic configurations for cerium

Depending on the textbook there are two different electronic configurations stated for cerium. On the one hand $$[\ce{Xe}]\mathrm{4f^15d^16s^2}\quad$$ and on the other hand $$[\ce{Xe}]\mathrm{4f^...
Peter Hofer's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
2k views

Is it possible that atoms with 120 protons are possible, but that atoms with 119 protons aren't possible?

We currently know that there are atoms with atomic number up to 118 are possible. Is it possible that atoms with 120 protons are possible, but that atoms with 119 protons aren't possible? Or are ...
wythagoras's user avatar
11 votes
4 answers
8k views

Does the mass of sulfur really decrease when dissolved in water and increase when burnt?

I was going through a bunch of interesting science 'facts' and one entry went this way: Name an element whose mass decreases when it is dissolved in water and increases if it is burnt. I tried ...
Vidyanshu Mishra's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
49k views

Is astatine a non-metal or a metalloid?

Is astatine a non-metal or a metalloid? A metalloid is an element which exhibits some of the properties of a metal as well as those of a non metal.
HOLYBIBLETHE's user avatar
11 votes
4 answers
16k views

How were the elements discovered before modern technology?

I recently was in need of zinc for an experiment. So I resorted to obtain it from some dry cell. But I wondered if it was pure zinc or was it $\ce{ZnO2}$ or any other compound of $\ce{Zn}$. It then ...
karthikeyan's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
7k views

Elements which do not form oxides

I had thought that this question would be easy to answer but my searching has been unsuccessful in finding a clear answer. For the metals, I expect that they all form oxides. Some very readily, e....
badjohn's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
567 views

Confusing Lines About Extinct Elements

In "The Greatest Show On Earth", author Richard Dawkins spends a chapter discussing radiometric dating. I find myself confused by the following lines, though I'm sure the reason is elementary. (...
Austin Mohr's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
1k views

If radium has such a long half-life, how can radon possibly be a threat to us?

If the probability is so low that a radium atom will decay into radon at any given time (the half-life is over 1600 years), then there will be a low amount of radon produced, granted it will be ...
Emu27's user avatar
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11 votes
4 answers
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Elements other than carbon that can form many different compounds by bonding to themselves?

My textbook says the following: Unique among the elements, carbon can bond to itself to form extremely strong two-dimensional sheets, as it does in graphite, as well as buckyballs and nanotubes. ...
The Pointer's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
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What are the most extreme chemicals?

Some chemicals certainly have extraordinary properties. One can consider them extreme in a sense, that they are the prime example for a concept, or they achieve the highest or lowest values in a ...
11 votes
3 answers
3k views

Why isn't neptunium used in nuclear reactors in nuclear power plants?

Why isn't neptunium used in nuclear reactors in nuclear power plants? Uranium is, and plutonium is. But neptunium isn't and it is in the middle of them. Is it like it is too hard to make it do ...
MathCubes's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
405 views

Do chemical bonds impact half-life of elements?

Let’s say we have element X with half life of 100 years. Can chemical bonds like X−X or X−Cl increase/decrease half-life of X? As a follow up question, can it increase/decrease radioactivity of X?
suyashsingh234's user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
47k views

What is the difference between "molecular mass", "average atomic mass" and "molar mass"?

I don't understand the difference between "molecular mass" and "average atomic mass". They seem like the same thing to me. Is it that average atomic mass is just the weighted average of the "weights"/...
kara's user avatar
  • 101
10 votes
1 answer
836 views

Why don't we see these lanthanide species?

For most lanthanide metals$^{[1]}$, the stable oxidation state is III. The general electronic structure$^{[2]}$ is $$\ce{[Xe] 4f^{0}^{-14} 5s^2 5p^6 5d^{0}^{-1} 6s^2}.$$ Elements that have the d-...
Linear Christmas's user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
19k views

Are the elements lanthanum and actinium considered to be in the d block or the f block of the periodic table?

Many periodic tables place lanthanum and actinium in the f-block of elements, for example, this periodic table from Los Alamos National Laboratory. However, this table from the Royal Society of ...
Ordinary Owl's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
11k views

Why is arsenic more chemically similar to phosphorus than is nitrogen?

Why is arsenic more chemically similar to phosphorus than is nitrogen (to phosphorus)? I thought that it may be because both phosphorus and arsenic have d orbitals (albeit one has one that is filled ...
Andy's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

How can we confirm the number of protons in an atom?

The periodic table tells us that there are 6 protons in a carbon atom. Is there a way to verify this first-hand? Or are we just expected to believe it unquestioned?
eric's user avatar
  • 251
9 votes
2 answers
4k views

Bonding of Lithium and Argon

I saw a meme that was joking around about Lithium and Argon bonding (see pic below). It got me wondering: Can Lithium and Argon bond in any circumstance?
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