The Disappearing Spoon: Chapter 19

By: Maddie Ensley

CHAPTER 19

In the begging of chapter 19 of The Disappearing Spoon, Sam Kean discussed the Periodic Table and Francium. Francium is very fragile and very rare. Instead of doing the normal Alpha Decay and thereby converting itself ( through the loss of two protons) into Astatine, Franium decides more than 99.9% of the time to relieve the pressure in its nucleis by undergoing beta decay and becoming radium (Kean, 2010). Radium undergoes a casade of alpha decays that leap over astaine. In other words, the path of many decaying atoms leads to a short overlay on Francium (Kean, 2010).

The final chapter then continues by discusses the various forms of the periodic table and islands of stability. It begins by describing the rarest natural elements, astatine (At) and francium (Fr), and why francium is more common even though it is heavier and less stable(Kean, 2010). Another one of the main elements talked about was Einsteinium (Es), which was discovered by Einstein. The chapter also briefly mentions the element Actinium (Ac) and Indium (In).

Scientists later discovered that, rather than becoming rarer and rarer, heavy elements actually followed a pattern of rarity. This is due to the so-called "magic numbers" of nuclei, and stable heavy elements are a part of the "island of stability." After that, it talks about how Glenn Seaborg reinvented the periodic table through his career and how it is the standard today, and offers some other models that might work better.

Francium (Fr)

Atomic Number: 87

Atomic Mass: (223)

Period: 7 Group: 1

Electron Configuration: 1s(2) 2s(2) 2p(6) 3s(2) 3p(6) 3d(10) 4s(2) 4p(6) 4d(10) 5s(2) 5p(6) 4f(14) 5d(10) 6s(2) 6p(6) 7s(1)

Classification: Alkali Metal

Geographically found: there isn't enough of it in the Earths crust to be collected. However it can be produced by bombarding thorium with protons or by bombarding radium with neutrons.

Why is it important: There is not enough of it for it to be useful

Discovered: It was discovered by Marguerite Perey in 1939. The discovery took place at the Curie Institute in Paris. The element takes its name form the country of its discovery, France.

Unique characteristics: It is so intensely radioactive that if you had enough of it to make a visible sample it would explode and kill anyone near it. It is also one of the two least electronegative elements.

Astatine (At)

Atomic Number: 85

Atomic Mass: (210)

Period: 6 Group: 17

Electron Configuration: 1s(2) 2s(2) 2p(6) 3s(2) 3p(6) 3d(10) 4s(2) 4p(6) 4d(10) 5s(2) 5p(6) 4f(14) 5d(10) 6s(2) 6p(5)

Classification: Halogen

Geographically found: It can be found in the Earths crust but it is extremely rare.

Why is it important: It is used as a quick acting radioisotope in medicine. It acts a lot like iodine in the body (Astatine is below Iodine on the Periodic Table).

Discovered: Identified in 1939 by a group of scientist led by Emilio Segre and is named after the Greek word "astatos" meaning unstable.

Unique characteristics: Only element whose discovery was confirmed by a non-primate (A guinea pig) and is the scarcest element so far.

Einsteinium (Es)

Atomic Number: 99

Atomic Mass: (252)

Period: 7 Group: 3

Electron Configuration: 1s(2) 2s(2) 2p(6) 3s(2) 3p(6) 3d(10) 4s(2) 4p(6) 4d(10) 4f(14) 5s(2) 5p(6) 5d(10) 5f(11) 6s(2) 6p(6) 7s(2)

Classification: Actinides series

Geographically found: discovered in a lab

Why is it important: not enough of it for it to be useful

Discovered: Identified in 1952 by teams of scientist from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It is named after Albert Einstein.

Unique characteristics: Its toxic due to its radioactivity.

Actinium (Ac)

Atomic Number: 89

Atomic Mass: 227.03

Period: 7 Group: 3

Electron Configuration: 1s(2) 2s(2)2p(6) 3s(2) 3p(6) 3d(10)

4s(2) 4p(6) 4d(10) 5s(2) 5p(6) 4f(14) 5d(10) 6s(2) 6p(6) 6d(1) 7s(2)

Classification: Actinides series

Geographically found: Naturally found in uranium ores. It rarely occurs as a free element in the Earths crust.

Why is it important: Is a very powerful source of Alpha rays, but its not really used outside of research.

Discovered: First noted as a element by a french chemist, Andre- Louis Debierne in 1899 and is named after the Greek word "aktis" meaning beam or ray.

Unique characteristics: It glows blue in the dark because its intense radioactivity excites the air around it.

Indium (In)

Atomic Number: 49

Atomic Mass: 114.82

Period: 5 Group: 13

Electron Configuration: 1s(2) 2s(2) 2p(6) 3s(2) 3p(6) 3d(10) 4s(2) 4p(6) 4d(10) 5s(2) 5p(1)

Classification: Metal

Geographically found: Found in Zinc and Lead Sulfide ores. Indium metal have been found in a region of Russia and an Indium mineral, indite, has been found in Siberia, but it is rare.

Why is it important: It is an important part of what makes touch screens, flat screen TVs, and solar panels.

Discovered: Discovered by the German chemist Ferdinand Reich in 1863. It is named after the indigo line in its atomic spectrum.

Unique characteristics: conducts electricity

Overall Summary

The majority of all the elements in this chapter were created in a lab or is too radioactive to be gathered. Although they may not contribute a huge importance in our world, they have made a great impact on the history and understanding of science. Without elements such as Indium, we would not be able to enjoy many of our daily comforts, like our cellphones and our TVs. Maybe on day in the future, if we have advanced enough technology, we will be able to see and research more about the elements such as Francium and Einsteinium. Until then, scientist will have a hard time trying to explain an undiscovered element.

Resources

Francium - Element information, properties and uses | Periodic Table. (n.d.).

Retrieved January 14, 2016. From http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/87/francium


#99 - Einsteinium - Es. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2016. From https://www.hobart.k12.in.us/ksms/PeriodicTable/einsteinium.htm


#89 - Actinium - Ac. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2016. From https://www.hobart.k12.in.us/ksms/PeriodicTable/actinium.htm