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Elemental Quiz

Elemental Quiz

Periodic table

Remember this? The periodic table, that staple of every chemistry class, continues to grow as scientists forge new elements.

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Carbon. Oxygen. Iron. Many of us may think of the various chemical elements as, well, elemental—created by nature, stable and unchanging. But scientists have now synthesized nearly two dozen novel elements, most of which are highly radioactive and break apart in a fraction of a blink of an eye. In the following quiz, test your knowledge of some chemistry basics and learn more about scientists' quest to produce a more stable superheavy element in a realm they call the "Island of Stability."—Susan K. Lewis

  1. The periodic table is a chart of all known chemical elements, both natural and synthesized. Why are the elements arranged in a curious pattern of unequal rows and columns?

    1. to reflect chemical properties
    2. to indicate when they were discovered
    3. to leave room for notes

  2. Hydrogen is the first element on the table, helium the second, lithium the third, and so on. What determines an element's numerical order?

    1. its atomic weight
    2. the number of protons it has
    3. when it was discovered

  3. Most elements were created inside of stars, but scientists have now made more than 20 elements in laboratories. What was the first element synthesized in a lab?

    1. technetium (element number 43) in 1937
    2. neptunium (element number 93) in 1940
    3. nobelium (element number 102) in 1958

  4. Who officially names a newly discovered element?

    1. the researcher(s) who discovered it
    2. the institution where it was discovered
    3. an international group of chemists

  5. What everyday object makes use of a synthesized heavy element?

    1. a smoke detector
    2. a microwave oven
    3. a fluorescent light

  6. In 1952, elements 99 and 100 were discovered. Where were they found?

    1. in a particle accelerator in Stockholm
    2. in pitchblende, a uranium-rich ore
    3. in debris from a hydrogen bomb test

  7. The nuclei of elements with a so-called "magic number" of protons tend to be more stable. What is the heaviest element found in nature with such a magic number?

    1. calcium
    2. lead
    3. nickel

  8. In the 1960s, physicists predicted that if element 114 could be made, it would be more stable than other superheavy elements. In 1998, when scientists finally created a single atom of element 114, it survived for how long?

    1. 30 seconds
    2. 30 hours
    3. 30 days


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