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Researchers from Michigan State University and the RIKEN Nishina Center in Japan discovered eight new rare isotopes of the elements phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, argon, potassium, scandium and, most importantly, calcium.
These are the heaviest isotopes of these elements ever found.
Isotopes - Forms - Elements - Nature - Isotopes
Isotopes are different forms of elements found in nature. Isotopes of each element contain the same number of protons, but a different number of neutrons. The more neutrons that are added to an element, the "heavier" it is. The heaviest isotope of an element represents the limit of how many neutrons the nucleus can hold. Also, isotopes of the same element have different physical properties. "Stable" isotopes live forever, while some heavy isotopes might only live for a few seconds. Some even heavier ones might barely exist fractions of a second before disintegrating.
The most interesting short-lived isotopes synthesized during a recent experiment at RIKEN's Radioactive Isotope Beam Factory (RIBF) were calcium-59 and calcium-60, which are now the most neutron-laden calcium isotopes known to science. The nucleus of calcium-60 has 20 protons and twice as many neutrons. That's 12 more neutrons than the heaviest of the stable calcium isotopes, calcium-48. This stable isotope disintegrates after living for hundreds of quintillion years, or 40 trillion times the age of the universe. In contrast, calcium-60 lives for a few thousandths of a second.
Oleg - Tarasov - Staff - Physicist - National
Oleg Tarasov, a staff physicist at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) at MSU, is a spokesperson for the experiment.
Tarasov explained that proving the existence of a certain isotope of an element can advance scientists' understanding of the nuclear force. This is a longstanding quest in nuclear science.
Heart - Atom - Protons - Neutrons - Force
"At the heart of an atom, protons and neutrons are held together by the nuclear force, forming the atomic nucleus", Tarasov said. "Scientists continue...
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