If some of the elements on the periodic table can only be produced in a lab, why are they considered elements?



Some of the high number elements only last for seconds or less, why do they get a spot on the table if they would never be found naturally?

In: Chemistry

Because they still exist? The periodic table isn’t a list of things you’ll find in your yard – it is a list of the nuclear elements which we have observed.

As for why studying things that don’t naturally exist is *useful*, the elements which only exist for brief periods often play a crucial role in nuclear chemistry. Nuclear reactors, for instance, would not be practically possible without ‘delayed neutrons’ from these elements.

An element is simply something made of only one kind of atom. All atoms in the element have the same number of protons. That’s what an element is.

This definition doesn’t say anything about “natural” origins. It holds for oxygen as it does for Dubnium or whatever.

Also, the lines between nature and lab in this case can be blurry.

Synthetic elements are typically produced by fusion or particle accelerators. However, nuclear fusion and other similar processes also occur naturally in the Universe. Also, the Universe is incredibly old, so it’s possible that the elements we call “synthetic” are actually things we could find in the Universe if we went back in time.

Elements of the periodic table don’t purely represent elements found naturally. Initially, it was thought we’d find all the elements and we’d have a complete set, but what we’ve found is that many elements either because they’re radioactive and instable or because they react readily with common elements in our atmosphere, that they don’t exist outside a lab.

However, because elements are defined based on the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom, with effort and energy, we can create elements which can be found no where, and see what properties they have.

It is interesting because since the periodic table was established, we’ve added many elements not found in nature, and it is heavily implied that if we had the means, the periodic table could grow indefinitely with increasingly instable elements.

There’s also a theory that perhaps there is an island of stability that we have not yet reached, where the trend will not necessarily be increasingly instable but actually become stable elements. The fact that they would be stable and not immediately be undone means essentially finding elements not found in nature that we could actually use in very practical ways.

It may be produce in a lab but they are still elements, meaning the matter is only made up of one type of atom.

The Lab environment maybe unnatural on Earth but there’s a possibility it could be natural elsewhere in the universe.

An element is simply a categorising system essentially if you have a bunch of atoms in some basic steel you have some iron and some carbon those are two diffent elements bit you could also have something that is purely one element like a pure diamond just carbon

each atom of an element has the same nucleus or core with the same number of protons that’s it that’s the deciding factor different numbers of other sub atomic molecules like electrons and protons just change the charge or a different isotope

So even if it’s made in a lab and is unstable it’s still an element you don’t see it in your day to day life but it doesn’t mean it’s not important in some lab or in a reactor