World Journal of Chemical Education
ISSN (Print): 2375-1665 ISSN (Online): 2375-1657 Website: Editor-in-chief: Prof. V. Jagannadham
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World Journal of Chemical Education. 2017, 5(1), 20-22
DOI: 10.12691/wjce-5-1-4
Open AccessCommunication

How Many Chemical Elements are there in the Universe? A (not so) Bohring Question

E. Garrone1, C.O. Areán2 and B. Bonelli1,

1Department of Applied Science and Technology and INSTM Unit of Torino-Politecnico, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, Politecnico di Torino I-10129, Turin (Italy)

2Departamento de Química, Universidad de las Islas Baleares E-07122, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Pub. Date: February 27, 2017

Cite this paper:
E. Garrone, C.O. Areán and B. Bonelli. How Many Chemical Elements are there in the Universe? A (not so) Bohring Question. World Journal of Chemical Education. 2017; 5(1):20-22. doi: 10.12691/wjce-5-1-4


This paper replies to two of the most common questions that students usually pose to their teacher during a general chemistry course, i.e. how many chemical elements are in the Periodic Table and how many could be in our Universe. Reply to the former question can be easily found either in the literature or in any updated chemistry book. More interestingly, this communication shows that the latter question may be (simply) answered by making reference to the Bohr’s atomic model that, notwithstanding its well-known limits, allows teachers to demonstrate that (for a hydrogenoid atom) 137 is the highest possible value for Z, as predicted by quantum electrodynamics, a much more complicated theory, usually taught in Physics advanced courses.

Bohr atomic model general chemistry base chemistry course periodic table hydrogenoid atom speed of light Ununseptium island of stability atomic number

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