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chemical element

n. (context chemistry English) Any one of the simplest chemical substances that cannot be decomposed in a chemical reaction. Chemical elements consist of atoms which have the same number of protons.

chemical element

n. any of the more than 100 known substances (of which 92 occur naturally) that cannot be separated into simpler substances and that singly or in combination constitute all matter [syn: element]

Chemical element

A chemical element or element is a species of atoms having the same number of protons in their atomic nuclei (i.e. the same atomic number, Z). There are 118 elements that have been identified, of which the first 94 occur naturally on Earth with the remaining 24 being synthetic elements. There are 80 elements that have at least one stable isotope and 38 that have exclusively radioactive isotopes, which decay over time into other elements. Iron is the most abundant element (by mass) making up Earth, while oxygen is the most common element in the crust of Earth.

Chemical elements constitute all of the ordinary matter of the universe. However astronomical observations suggest that ordinary observable matter is only approximately 15% of the matter in the universe: the remainder is dark matter, the composition of which is unknown, but it is not composed of chemical elements. The two lightest elements, hydrogen and helium were mostly formed in the Big Bang and are the most common elements in the universe. The next three elements ( lithium, beryllium and boron) were formed mostly by cosmic ray spallation, and are thus more rare than those that follow. Formation of elements with from six to twenty six protons occurred and continues to occur in main sequence stars via stellar nucleosynthesis. The high abundance of oxygen, silicon, and iron on Earth reflects their common production in such stars. Elements with greater than twenty-six protons are formed by supernova nucleosynthesis in supernovae, which, when they explode, blast these elements far into space as supernova remnants, where they may become incorporated into planets when they are formed.

The term "element" is used for a kind of atoms with a given number of protons (regardless of whether they are or they are not ionized or chemically bonded, e.g. hydrogen in water) as well as for a pure chemical substance consisting of a single element (e.g. hydrogen gas). For the second meaning, the terms "elementary substance" and " simple substance" have been suggested, but they have not gained much acceptance in the English-language chemical literature, whereas in some other languages their equivalent is widely used (e.g. French corps simple, Russian простое вещество). One element can form multiple substances different by their structure; they are called allotropes of the element.

When different elements are chemically combined, with the atoms held together by chemical bonds, they form chemical compounds. Only a minority of elements are found uncombined as relatively pure minerals. Among the more common of such " native elements" are copper, silver, gold, carbon (as coal, graphite, or diamonds), and sulfur. All but a few of the most inert elements, such as noble gases and noble metals, are usually found on Earth in chemically combined form, as chemical compounds. While about 32 of the chemical elements occur on Earth in native uncombined forms, most of these occur as mixtures. For example, atmospheric air is primarily a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, and argon, and native solid elements occur in alloys, such as that of iron and nickel.

The history of the discovery and use of the elements began with primitive human societies that found native elements like carbon, sulfur, copper and gold. Later civilizations extracted elemental copper, tin, lead and iron from their ores by smelting, using charcoal. Alchemists and chemists subsequently identified many more, with almost all of the naturally-occurring elements becoming known by 1900.

The properties of the chemical elements are summarized on the periodic table, which organizes the elements by increasing atomic number into rows ( "periods") in which the columns ( "groups") share recurring ("periodic") physical and chemical properties. Save for unstable radioactive elements with short half-lives, all of the elements are available industrially, most of them in high degrees of purity.

Usage examples of "chemical element".

Every time we add one or more protons and enough neutrons to keep the nucleus together, we make a new chemical element.

Doc knew these contained the special concussion caps required to set off the new chemical element.

Until this point, the gold bar has signified nothing to Waterhouse--it's just a bulk sample of a chemical element, like a lead weight or a flask of mercury.

Since we know that each chemical element absorbs a characteristic set of very specific colors, by matching these to those that are missing from a star’.

You remember your work on that stuff called 'Compound Monk,' the chemical element combination which was so touchy and cranky that it was like Monk?

There is no way to camouflage a given chemical element from a sensor scan.

Another way was to stop using atoms of any chemical element other than carbon.

No other chemical element comes close to carbon in the variety and intricacy of the compounds it can form.

It certainly did -look like yellow moss, clustering around the spires as if it needed some chemical element in the stone.

It certainly did look like yellow moss, clustering around the spires as if it needed some chemical element in the stone.