Learn more physics!
How do chemists make new elements?
- Shashank (age 10)
An element is an atom whose nucleus includes a certain definite number of protons. The number of protons is called the atomic number. For example, in hydrogen, element #1, there is 1 proton in Helium 2, and in Oxygen, 8. Combinations of elements form molecules or chemical compounds, for example water, H2
0, contains two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen. You can not create new elements by mixing different compounds. In order to create a new element you have to change the number of protons in a nucleus. It is possible to do this but it requires bombarding various elements, one with the other, by means of high energy particle accelerators. Most new elements created in this way are unstable and quickly decay back into their original constituents or other combinations. As usual, the total number of protons is conserved. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_transmutation
for some more info.
(published on 12/11/09)
Follow-up on this answer.