Three Fathoms Observatory
Stewart Yeung

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                               Studies of Physics

The Origin of Chemical Elements(12 November 2012)

 

 

 

 

 



Some 13.7 billion years ago, by the end of the inflation era, “reheating” occurred, temperature rose and space started to expand in what we call the “Big Bang”. After expanding for 3 minutes, vacuum potential energy was converted into matter in the process of Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN) that lasted for only 17 minutes, but created ALL the matter of the Universe with mass abundances of about 75% of H-1, about 25% helium-4, about 0.01% of deuterium, trace amounts of lithium and beryllium. After BBN, the temperature and density of the Universe fell below that required for nuclear fusion and so no other heavy elements were produced.

The primordial quantum fluctuation in the vacuum potential energy spectrum resulted in minor spatial density fluctuation in the hydrogen and helium formed in BBN. After an estimated 30-155 million years this density unevenness then evolved due to gravitation into stars, and then galaxies after another 370 million years. The heavier chemical elements in the Universe today were then produced in stars where nuclear fusion of hydrogen and helium produced heavier elements in the process called Stellar Nucleosynthesis. Yet heavier elements were also produced with higher energy available in supernovae explosions in the process called Supernova nucleosynthesis. All these heavier chemical elements were disseminated into space in stellar coronal mass ejection and during the supernova explosion itself. In addition, some minor natural nuclear processes on Earth also produced small numbers of new elements.

Among all known chemical elements, some are not naturally found on Earth but only artifically derived (in transient nuclear processes) or deduced from stellar spectra, while some are named after famous scientists including:

Bohrium – Niels Bohr
Curium – Pierre and Marie Curie
Einsteinium – Albert Einstein
Fermium – Enrico Fermi
Gallium – Lecoq le Boisbaudran (Latin = Gallus)
Hahnium – Otto Hahn
Lawrencium – Ernest Lawrence
Meitnerium – Lise Meitner
Mendelevium – Dmitri Mendeleev
Nobelium – Alfred Nobel
Roentgenium – Wilhelm Roentgen
Rutherfordium – Ernest Rutherford
Seaborgium – Glenn T. Seaborg

Interestingly, there is a song (yes, a SONG) summarizing all known chemical elements:

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