This week’s Quiz Question takes a jog into chemistry. Forget about the transuranium elements, some of which have existed briefly in quantities of a few atoms. What is the scarcest naturally occurring element on this planet?
Post your answer in the comments section below.
Update and answer
Nobody had a clue, so I’m posting the answer. Here is why you don’t find bottles of astatine sitting around on the chemistry laboratory shelf:
Astatine is a radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol At and atomic number 85, and is the rarest naturally occurring element on the Earth’s crust. It occurs on Earth as the decay product of various heavier elements. All its isotopes are short-lived; the most stable is astatine-210, with a half-life of 8.1 hours. Elemental astatine has never been viewed because any macroscopic sample would be immediately vaporized by its radioactive heating. It has yet to be determined if this obstacle could be overcome with sufficient cooling.
Additionally, astatine is a halogen, following fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine.