you can't just smash a bunch of protons together and hope it sticks.
September 26, 2016 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Iron Man and the Island of Stability - Tony Stark found the Holy Grail of nuclear physics and nobody noticed

Elements through 118 (oganesson) were added to the periodic table earlier this year - previously.
Superheavy Element 117 Points To Fabled “Island of Stability” on Periodic Table
How Many Neutrons and Protons Can Get Along? Maybe 7,000
Why bother? "SHEs provide unique opportunities to get insights into the influence of strong relativistic effects on the atomic electrons and to probe ‘relativistically’ influenced chemical properties and the architecture of the periodic table at its farthest reach."
Shell game: why heavier atoms might get stable again

Direct Mapping of Nuclear Shell Effects in the Heaviest Elements, Ramierez et al..
Quantum-mechanical shell effects are expected to strongly enhance nuclear binding on an “island of stability” of superheavy elements. The predicted center at proton number Z = 114, 120, or 126 and neutron number N = 184 has been substantiated by the recent synthesis of new elements up to Z = 118. However, the location of the center and the extension of the island of stability remain vague. High-precision mass spectrometry allows the direct measurement of nuclear binding energies and thus the determination of the strength of shell effects. Here, we present such measurements for nobelium and lawrencium isotopes, which also pin down the deformed shell gap at N = 152.
What is the shell model of the nucleus? A lecture "The Shell Model" [PDF] by Maria Goeppert Mayer, Nobel laureate.
posted by the man of twists and turns (14 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
So, basically, all those elements that only exist in Star Trek and that, not coincidentally, power all their really sexy tech, might exist after all? Keen! I'll start investing in latinum futures.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:25 PM on September 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is old hat. New hotness is in using custom boson combinations to create artificial matter and energy. One day, you'll have a kick-starter for desktop particle accellerators to make your own electravity and psuedobaryons. Or to assemble attites, which are nanites made of quarks... machines that can simulate any kind of matter you need, and alter it in realtime.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:36 PM on September 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think these charts from Wikipedia's valley of stability article are similar to one of the ones in the Overthinking It article, but with more readable legends and labels: nuclides by binding energy, depicting the valley of stability, nuclides by half life, nuclides by decay mode
posted by XMLicious at 8:45 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy, you could post those kickstarters today and make a decent haul from credulous backers.
posted by ryanrs at 10:07 PM on September 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Slap*Happy, I will buy your rock.
posted by nfalkner at 10:22 PM on September 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


One day, you'll have a kick-starter for desktop particle accellerators to make your own electravity and psuedobaryons.

That'd better be after we get desktop cold fusion, because otherwise running a desktop device with a 200 MW power supply is going to make for one heck of an electric bill.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:46 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


"...and nobody noticed."

Somebody owes me an apology! I wish I had my internal monologue for the middle third of Iron Man II written down somewhere, because believe me, it was a very geeky cocktail of reference hunting, evaluating all my suspensions of disbelieve (where's the 5 Gauss line at chez Stark anyway) and trying to back fill their hand wavey "science" in for them.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:28 AM on September 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Slap*Happy, I will buy your rock.

I won't. I have a rock garden. This morning, two of them died.
posted by DreamerFi at 4:58 AM on September 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Is it just me or does the Island of Stability look like Japan?
posted by Grangousier at 6:26 AM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Transuranic heavy elements may not be used where there is life.

I'm not going to get excited until we have room-temperature quark condensates with a large enough effective cross-section to build neutrino detectors into mobile phones.
posted by Devonian at 6:45 AM on September 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ooooo, Sapphire and Steel reference. [Slow golf clap.]
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:29 AM on September 27, 2016


I don't know why he didn't mention the dangers of having a particle beam.
posted by qcubed at 11:30 AM on September 27, 2016


What, like this is the first time Tony Stark made a nobel prize worthy discovery?

In the 2nd film, he's up to like Mark V right? The Mark IV would have been the briefcase suit from the first fight with Vanko (I watch a LOT of marvel movies okay?). The Avengers shows us the Mark VI. When the events of Iron man 3 start a year or two after the battle of New York, he is testing the Mark 42! So he's made at least 35 miniature arc reactors either by hand or via his semi-automated prototyping process.

Those arc reactors are able to power his suits for a good long time, I'm sure they'd power a car for even longer. Tony Stark is wasting his time as Iron Man, he should be cranking out mini-arc reactors to supply Tesla and every other company that wants to build a zero-emissions vehicle. Then he could be making larger ones to run buildings like Start Tower and a reactor somewhere in the middle to provide local power generation for homes.

Tony Stark can single handedly solve global warming as well as a huge range of other issues that all that cheap, clean energy could provide.
posted by VTX at 8:58 AM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Those arc reactors are able to power his suits for a good long time, I'm sure they'd power a car for even longer.

The problem is that it requires a consumable that's made out of a solid chunk of palladium that becomes lethally radioactive during the course of operation. The solution is a new consumable made out of an element that cannot occur naturally, and requires a lab setup that does not easily lend itself to an assembly line to manufacture. I do not imagine it will be cheaper than a new palladium brick once every few days/weeks.

This is a bit like asking why we don't just use plutonium batteries instead of this lithium-ion stuff. It's good for purpose - milspec miniaturization in small quantities - but not yet ready to be rolled out as a consumer good, if ever.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:12 AM on September 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


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