Talk:List of elements by stability of isotopes

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Current status: Former featured list

Is this data up to date?[edit]

I was under the impression that some of the elelemnts listed here as stable do in fact exhibit decay. Bismuth is actually unstable (though for most practical purposes can be considered stable).

"Bismuth was found to be hypothetically unstable in 2003, with an α-emission half-life of 1.9 × 1019 years for Bi-209."

The alpha decay of Bi-209 was experimentally measured in 1951 by Compt. Rend. 232, 2093 (1951). NSR ref = 1951FA10. The t1/2 was given as 3e17y. I pulled this from the TOI 4th ed. (1953). It is also mentioned in Asimov's "Inside the Atom" page 110 (1956). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:47, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

--ManInStone 08:19, 2 August 2007 (UTC) ====Rational of subject matter==== If you're trying to understand the rational of this subject matter I suggest that you take a look at the the various pages of the lanl Map of the Nuclides where the chart is presented in such a manner as to allow a cognitive understanding of relationships of occurence of stable isotopes between the various elements. WFPMWFPM (talk) 18:45, 9 September 2008 (UTC) If you are interested in trends of atomic stability within the periodic table be aware that the majority (more than 200 out 0f 280+) of stable isotopes are of the category EE (150+0 and OE (50+) and that trend lines including these stable elements have the formula A = 3Z - an even number.WFPMWFPM (talk) 00:31, 14 September 2008 (UTC)Also note that the first odd Z element on the stability list is 19K, which is 39th on the list.WFPMWFPM (talk) 13:25, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Background colours?[edit]

I suggest to remove the background colours from the elements in the tables. This would make the table much more readable. Also, the stability of isotopes has no connection whatsoever to the chemistry of the corresponding element.--Roentgenium111 (talk) 16:04, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

I agree. --Itub (talk) 06:56, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

The most laughably dangerous chart in Wikipedia. Congratulations on a great featured list.[edit]

Periodic table colored according to the half-lives of their most stable isotope .
  Stable elements;
  Radioactive elements with very long-lived isotopes. Their half-live of over four million years confers them very small, if not negligible radioactivities, and thus may be handled without special precautions;
  Radioactive elements that may present low health hazards. Their most stable isotopes have half-times between 800 and 34.000 years, which give them radiation levels around the background level. Because of this, they usually have some commercial applications;
  Radioactive elements that are known to pose high safety risks. Their most stable isotopes have half-lifes between one day and 103 years. Their radioactivities confers them little potential for commercial uses;
  Highly radioactive elements. Their most stable isotopes have half-lifes between one day and several minutes. They pose severe health risks and is unlikely that they will receive uses outside basic research;
  Extremely radioactive elements. Very little is known about these elements due to their extreme instability and radioactivitiy.

According to this chart, because the longest-lived isotope of plutonium has a half-life of over four million years, it "may be handled without special precautions." Oh, really? OK. Here's a brick of plutonium-244 for you to handle without special precautions. It ignites in air and water and will expand to break its container, but I guess the precautions to prevent that from happening are not "special" because its radioactivity won't do too much harm while the ensuing fire and chemical burns kill you. And here's a chunk of radium-226. I'm sure you wouldn't mind spending some time in a poorly ventilated closet with a big ingot of the stuff. After all, a Wikipedia featured list says radium "may present low health hazards," and featured lists are the best that the Wikipedia community has to offer. The fact that radium slowly decays into radon is just a minor detail that killed the Curies and the radium girls and still causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the US, but it's really the radon that's being harmful, right? So congratulations to the diverse community that continues to plop nice gold stars on this sort of well-reviewed chemistry content over and over. Keep up the great work of reminding readers why free content can be so entertaining. Flying Jazz (talk) 07:27, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

In the context of this table, the alluded precautions are obviously only precautions with respect to radiation. No one would say you don't need special precautions to handle fluorine, yet it is stable so you don't need to worry about radiation. --Itub (talk) 08:35, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
Stable is an antonym of radioactive. Therefore, the statement "fluorine is stable" made by the chart is not a laughable joke. It is correct because it makes no statement about safety. Safe is not an antonym of radioactive. Therefore the statement "plutonium may be handled without special precautions" made by the chart is a laughable joke regardless of context and the statement that radium "may present low health hazards" due to radiation is also utter nonsense because it decays to deadly radon. Defend the indefensible much? Flying Jazz (talk) 23:11, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
Most of the things in this caption are (over)simplifications. I suppose the question is whether they are useful enough for an introduction vs whether they are too oversimplified. I didn't write them, but I think they were written to try to make the table more accessible and to try to illustrate the, admittedly imperfect, correlation between half-life, radiation hazards, and usability. Nevertheless, I wouldn't mind too much if it were replace with a dry and factual caption that simply reflects the half-life of the most stable isotope for each element (e.g., red: < 1 s; orange, < 1 day; yellow, < 1 year... or something like that). --Itub (talk) 08:38, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
I removed the disputed phrase. --mav (talk) 01:51, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
I have a few technical objections:
  1. if all that text is going to be in the figure "caption" in at least two places, why not make a template, so that objections about "handled safely without risk" can be updated at all places at once,
  2. why not an SVG, so that the image might be easier to maint... oh never mind ... soon!
  3. bismuth is "very nearly not radioactive" meaning its radioactivity is very near above the detection limits as regards to background radiation, treating it in the same category as technetium is misleading, technetium is more likely to burn our fingers,
  4. the colors aren't color blind tested,
Said: Rursus () 18:27, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
Otherwise I object against wikipedia giving health advices, especially regarding chemical elements. Said: Rursus () 23:24, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Wrongly noted as radioactive[edit]

In the table, many primordial nuclides were shown as radioactive. See the complete (as of today) list of 31 nuclides that are known to be radioactive with half-life >7E8 yr (i.e. primordial radioactive nuclides) (decay modes: alpha (a), beta (b), double beta (2b), spontaneous fusion (SF), cluster emission(CE)): 40-K (b), 48-Ca (2b), 50-V (b), 76-Ge (2b), 82-Se (2b), 87-Rb (b), 96-Zr (2b), 100-Mo (2b), 113-Cd (b), 116-Cd (2b), 115-In (b), 128-Te (2b), 130-Te (2b), 130-Ba (2b), 138-La (b), 144-Nd (a), 150-Nd (2b), 147-Sm (a), 148-Sm (a), 151-Eu (a), 152-Gd (a), 176-Lu (b), 174-Hf (a), 180-W (a), 187-Re (b), 186-Os (a), 190-Pt (a), 209-Bi (a), 232-Th (a, SF), 235-U (a, CE), 238-U (a, 2b, SF).

There exist sources that can be out of date because many of the above-mentioned nuclides were found to be radioactive only during the last decade (for example, Eu-151 alpha decay has been observed in 2007). For some nuclides, the lower limits established for half-lives were cited in some sources as positive results (i.e. the claims that a decay was not found and its half-life is longer than ... were understood as the half-life is equal to ...). --V1adis1av (talk) 16:42, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

Merge "Decays" column[edit]

I think we should just list the number of primordial isotopes, if that much, so as not to take up so much horizontal space. The cells to the right show which isotopes decay (italics) and for that matter counting the cells is easy. --JWB (talk) 09:59, 6 January 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps, but the cells also tell which isotopes of the element are primordial and which of these are radioactive. If you just collapse that into a number, you lose that info. Did I misunderstand what you're suggesting? It's very odd to complain that something takes up too much space on Wikipedia which is WP:NOTPAPER. This is not a particularly long article, as is one of the few short ones that addresses the issue from the viewpoint of "element first" (rather than nuclide first (see isotope) or stability first (for example list of nuclides). There is a complete chart of nuclides, but it's much longer, and it covers more than just the primordials. Here, we have a list of primordial nuclides, then tacked on to it, a list of (very) radioactive nuclides for the non-primordial elements. This is sort of an apples + oranges combo, inasmuch as it only gives limited nuclides (only the primordial ones) for primordial elements, but then loosens its standards for (necessarily shorter lived) nuclides of the non-primordial elements. SBHarris 00:52, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I was proposing keeping the marking on the unstable isotopes, and getting rid of the number (or even both numbers), not vice versa. --JWB (talk) 01:24, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, when I said "just list the number of primordial isotopes" I meant "list the number of primordial isotopes whether stable or not, and drop the separate counts of unstable-primordial and not-known-unstable primordial", i.e. add the two existing columns into one column, and not dropping any of the cells representing individual isotopes. --JWB (talk) 01:27, 7 January 2012 (UTC)



Tm169也不穩定,半衰期是1.74E22年。 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:35, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

Translation: "123Te has half-life 5.99 × 1014 a and is radioactive. 169Tm is also radioactive, having a half-life of 1.74 × 1022 a." Double sharp (talk) 05:54, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
However, the report of Te-123's radioactivity has since been disproven. It may still be radioactive, but that is not confirmed. AFAIK (Emsley 2011), Tm-169 is stable. Double sharp (talk) 09:43, 6 September 2012 (UTC)


Why "Te-120" and "Ta-180m" are unstable? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:04, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

Stable isotopes[edit]

H-1, H-2 He-3, He-4 Li-6, Li-7 Be-9 B-10, B-11 C-12, C-13 N-14, N-15 O-16, O-17, O-18 F-19 Ne-20, Ne-21, Ne-22 Na-23 Mg-24, Mg-25, Mg-26 Al-27 Si-28, Si-29, Si-30 P-31 S-32, S-33, S-34, S-36 Cl-35, Cl-37 (Ar-36), Ar-38, Ar-40 K-39, K-41 (Ca-40), Ca-42, Ca-43, Ca-44, (Ca-46) Sc-45 Ti-46, Ti-47, Ti-48, Ti-49, Ti-50 V-51 (Cr-50), Cr-52, Cr-53, Cr-54 Mn-55 (Fe-54), Fe-56, Fe-57, Fe-58 Co-59 (Ni-58), Ni-60, Ni-61, Ni-62, Ni-64 Cu-63, Cu-65 (Zn-64), Zn-66, Zn-67, Zn-68, (Zn-70) Ga-69, Ga-71 Ge-70, Ge-72, Ge-73, Ge-74 As-75 (Se-74), Se-76, Se-77, Se-78, (Se-80) Br-79, Br-81 (Kr-78), Kr-80, Kr-82, Kr-83, Kr-84, (Kr-86) Rb-85 (Sr-84), Sr-86, Sr-87, Sr-88 Y-89 Zr-90, Zr-91, Zr-92, (Zr-94) Nb-93 (Mo-92), Mo-94, Mo-95, Mo-96, Mo-97, (Mo-98) Tc-->No stable isotopes! (Ru-96), Ru-98, Ru-99, Ru-100, Ru-101, Ru-102, (Ru-104) Rh-103 (Pd-102), Pd-104, Pd-105, Pd-106, Pd-108, (Pd-110) Ag-107, Ag-109 (Cd-106), (Cd-108), Cd-110, Cd-111, Cd-112, (Cd-114) In-113 (Sn-112), Sn-114, Sn-115, Sn-116, Sn-117, Sn-118, Sn-119, Sn-120, (Sn-122), (Sn-124) Sb-121, Sb-123 (Te-120), Te-122, Te-124, Te-125, Te-126 I-127 (Xe-124), (Xe-126), Xe-128, Xe-129, Xe-130, Xe-131, Xe-132, (Xe-134) Cs-133 (Ba-132), Ba-134, Ba-135, Ba-136, Ba-137, Ba-138 La-139 (Ce-136), (Ce-138), Ce-140, (Ce-142) Pr-141 Nd-142, (Nd-143), (Nd-145), (Nd-146), (Nd-148) Pm-->No stable isotopes! (Sm-144), (Sm-149), (Sm-150), (Sm-152), (Sm-154) (Eu-153) (Gd-154), (Gd-155), Gd-156, Gd-157, Gd-158, (Gd-160) Tb-159 (Dy-156), (Dy-158), Dy-160, (Dy-161), (Dy-162), (Dy-163), Dy-164 (Ho-165) (Er-162), (Er-164), (Er-166), (Er-167), (Er-168), (Er-170) (Tm-169) (Yb-168), (Yb-170), (Yb-171), (Yb-172), (Yb-173), (Yb-174), (Yb-176) (Lu-175) (Hf-176), (Hf-177), (Hf-178), (Hf-179), (Hf-180) (Ta-180m), (Ta-181) (W-182), (W-183), (W-184), (W-186) (Re-185) (Os-184), (Os-187), (Os-188), (Os-189), (Os-190), (Os-192) (Ir-191), (Ir-193) (Pt-192), (Pt-194), (Pt-195), (Pt-196), (Pt-198) (Au-197) (Hg-196), (Hg-198), (Hg-199), (Hg-200), (Hg-201), (Hg-202), (Hg-204) (Tl-203), (Tl-205) (Pb-204), (Pb-206), (Pb-207), (Pb-208) Bi or heavier-->No more stable isotopes! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:35, 12 July 2012 (UTC)

Primordial Nuclei[edit]

The tables list the half-lives of the non-primordial nuclei but doesn't list those of the primordial nuclei that are radioactive. I think that this is probably information that should be placed in the table. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Darlough (talkcontribs) 22:51, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

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