Despite what many of us remember from school, the periodic table of elements is a fascinating roadmap of the building blocks of the universe.
Physicists from Kyoto University have just revealed a new table that gives a different perspective for scientists throughout the world.
While the modern periodic table is designed in the order of increasing atomic number, this new table is based on the protons in the nucleus.
Over 150 ago, Dmitri Mendeleev discovered the periodic law that led to him proposing what is today known as the modern periodic table. Though it is still periodically revised to this day, the periodic table has stuck to the rule of following ascending amounts of electrons in an atom.
“Fundamentally, it comes down to the electrons in each atom. Atoms are considered to be stable when electrons completely fill their ‘shell’ of orbits around the nucleus,” Yoshiteru Maeno, one of the co-developers of the new table, told ScitechDaily.
“So-called ‘noble gases’, inert elements such as helium, neon, and argon, rarely react with other elements. Their most stable electron numbers are 2, 10, 18, 36, and so on,” he continued.
The team at Kyoto University describes the stable electron numbers as atomic 'magic numbers.' Importantly, Maeno explains, the same principle can be applied to protons.
Protons, however, have different stable magic numbers — 2, 8, 20, 28, etc. Among these are familiar elements, including oxygen, helium, and calcium. The new table, dubbed by the team as the 'Nucletouch' table, puts these 'magic nuclei' at the center.
“Similar to electrons, when nuclear orbits are filled with protons, they form stable nuclei, analogous to the noble-gas elements,” explains collaborator Kouichi Hagino.
“In our nuclear periodic table, we also see that nuclei tend to be spherically-shaped near the magic numbers, but deformed as you move away from them.”
Why did the team make the table? They say it's important to have different ways to map and process the laws of nature. There's always room for a fresh perspective.