An interesting element of the periodic table - one that has never actually been observed - is element 137, which has an atomic number that exceeds the highest known naturally occurring element in the periodic table, plutonium, (element 94) by 43 protons, and is known as Untriseptium, or as the Wikipedia reference on this remarkable element notes, is sometimes called Feynmanium.
The reason that an element that has not been discovered - and thus has no formal IUPAC name - has been named "Feynmanium" by people who think about this element - is that the famous physicist (and iconoclast) Richard Feynman noted that the atomic charge on the nucleus of untriseptium was such that the electrons in it would need to travel almost as fast as the speed of light, faster than the speed of light for any heavier element, according to a widely used partial differential equation known as the Relativistic Dirac Equation, and in fact, according to the highly successful (if necessarily approximate) Bohr model of the atom.
According to the Bohr interpretation, the speed of an electron in the innermost shell is approximately equal to the atomic number of an element, commonly denoted as Z, times the speed of light, commonly denoted c, and a parameter, α, which is a fundemental constant of the universe, the fine structure constant, itself equal to the charge on an electron squared times the speed of light, times the permeability of free space (the magnetic constant), divided by twice Planck's constant.
You can look it up.
It turns out that the value of α is approximately equal to the reciprocal of a number a little larger than 137.
The number 137 has been in the news lately, because of an isotope of cesium that has that mass number (as opposed to atomic number) has leaked out of some reactors in Japan struck by a tsunami. The amount of cesium-137 that has leaked out of the reactor is estimated to be about 12,000 curies, (or as our media likes to point out hundreds of thousands of trillions of becquerels), which is roughly about 10 times as much cesium-137 as was produced in the vaporization of a nuclear weapon over the Japanese city of Hiroshima near the end of a famous oil war.
As a result, we are now safe to conclude, since rationality is not an issue, that everyone in Japan who has recently died has been killed by radiation sickness; by contrast driving cars in a tsunami is very, very, very, very, very safe, just as "they" always told it would be.
Who cares? Don't worry, be happy.
The amount of cesium-137 produced in a single bomb explosion - about which I once wrote a fun diary called Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining, Even Mushroom Clouds: Cs-137 and Watching the Soil Die - the "Tsar Bomba" explosion over Novaya Zemlya Island
in the Arctic, released in a matter of a few seconds, about 280,000 curies of cesium-137 (along with vast quantities of other radioisotpes), meaning that the "Tsar Bomba" blast aerosolized as much cesium-137 as 23 Fukushima's.
I claimed in my diary on "Tsar Bomba" the following:
If you were born after October 1961, or after October 1952, you have lived with the fallout of several of these exercises in show for your entire life.
where "show" refers to nuclear weapons testing.
Everyone in Norway and Sweden must have died from radiation poisoning, which accounts for the absence of oil rigs off the coast of Norway.
Although many nuclear weapons have been tested, hundreds of them, only one nuclear war has ever been observed, and almost all of the people who remember this nuclear war have died, proving that nuclear wars are dangerous, although it must be said that many people who died remembering the nuclear war died of, um, old age.
Of course, when people test or use dangerous fossil fuel powered weapons, no one is affected by the by products, because the by products of burning oil are all risk free. (Similarly, despite the existance of many people who have written articles in the scientific primary literature about the carcinogenicity of crude oil and its distillates, like, um, say, gasoline, there is no risk of cancer from tens of thousands of cars smashed into little pieces by the tsunami and distributed all over Japan, since "they" guarantee that cars are absolutely safe.)
I could reference a paper from the scientific literature on the subject of epidemiology of cancer among Norwegian oil platform workers, but obviously a confounding variable in this study is the fact that everyone in Norway died from "Tsar Bomba."
Anyway. The Bohr model (and in fact the Dirac Equation) predict, roughly, that the speed of an electron in the inner (1S) shell of a heavy nucleus, like "Feynmanium" will have a velocity given by the following relation: v = Zαc. Since α is roughly the reciprocal of 137, any atom with Z>137 would require the electrons to move faster than the speed of light, an impossibility according to General Relativity.
Actually these effects are measurable with atoms that are very heavy, but are still lighter than "Feynmanium."
The paper I will reference from the primary scientific literature tonight - upon which I stumbled while looking for some other property concerning chemical activity constants in some classes of molten salts - Determination of the first ionization potential of einsteinium by resonanceionization mass spectroscopy.
And now about that suspected contamination with plutonium, we have the following text from the paper:
The first ionization potential is a fundamental physical and chemical property of an element. Knowledge of the ionization potentials of the heavier actinides can help in 254 understanding relativistic effects in these heavy elements, which are expected as a result of the relativistic mass increase of the inner electrons , and enables a test of multiconfiguration Dirac–Fock calculations , a successful theoretical treatment for heavy multielectron atoms...
...and then this highly frightening description of what was going on in their awful, dangerous, nuclear reactor...
2.1. Production and purification of Es254:
The Es (T1/2 276 days, α-emitter) was synthesized in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as part of the US Department of Energy’s transuranium elements production and research program
They made 279 nanograms of Es254 and 133.9 micrograms of Californium 249 and 1.4 micrograms of Californium-250.
And then the really, really, really, really scary part:
Suspected plutonium contamination was confirmed by α-particle 238 240 analysis to consist of 5.1 mg Pu and 24.7 mg Pu. No 253Es was detected by γ- pectroscopy, and all other γ-emitting impurities were below minimum detectable limits.
There you go, plutonium contamination.
Have a nice day tomorrow.