Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Acronym in physics and chemistry: SHE for super heavy elements

SHE is in use as an acronym for the term super heavy elements (also written in two-word form: superheavy elements).

Uranium with atomic number 92 is a typical heavy element. To belong to the SHE set, an element needs to have a higher atomic number. Isotopes with atomic number 93 and higher are radioactive and instable—some with an extremely short life span.

SHE have super heavy atoms and, consequently, super heavy nuclei. The super heavy nucleus 298114, containing 114 protons and 184 neutrons, is often referred to as the doubly magic spherical nucleus. For nuclei in the 298114 neighborhood, enhanced nuclear stability has been predicted. The element with atomic number number 112, for which the name copernicium has been proposed, falls into this neighborhood. The term super heavy elements or its acronym SHE is most often used in the context of chemical elements that feature isotopes within this neighborhood, in which they establish islands of stability.

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