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Article

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

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


World Journal of Chemical Education. 2017, Vol. 5 No. 1, 20-22
DOI: 10.12691/wjce-5-1-4
Copyright © 2017 Science and Education Publishing

Cite this paper:
E. Garrone, C.O. Areán, 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.

Correspondence to: B.  Bonelli, Department of Applied Science and Technology and INSTM Unit of Torino-Politecnico, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, Politecnico di Torino I-10129, Turin (Italy). Email: barbara.bonelli@polito.it

Abstract

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.

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