The long-held belief of the scientific world, that quantum mechanics are the only essential rules that define the behaviors of atoms and totally explain the chemical behavior of almost every element in the periodic table, seems to be turned upside down by a series of complex experiments.
Thomas Albrecht-Schmitt, the professor of Chemistry at FSU, has done these complex experiments with one of the least understood element of the table. Their research published in the Journal of The American Chemical Society says that the famous Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein helps to realize the behavior of the last 21 elements of the Periodic Table.
Theory of Relativity
It seems like the Theory of Relativity has overridden the Quantum mechanics when it comes to these heavier and lesser-known elements.
It took nearly three years and two dozen scientists from the FSU campus to do this experiment. In the FSU-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Albrecht-Schmitt used the element Berkelium (Bk) of the periodic table and made compounds of it which showed unusual chemical behaviors.
Explaining them Albrecht-Schmitt said that it was like being in an alternative universe as the chemistry exhibited there was not anything that can be seen in everyday elements. According to him, the compounds were simply not following the rules quantum mechanics.
Especially the electrons were not behaving like the way they were supposed to. As per the scientists, the electrons are expected to line up in such a way so that they face the atom of Berkelium atom which happens in case of lighter elements like silver, Zinc, Iron, Sodium.
This helps Iron to act like a magnet for example. However, scientists have long predicted that these rules may not be applicable for elements like Berkelium or beyond that.
At this point, Albrecht-Schmitt and his team found the Theory of Relativity of Einstein has the answer to this unusual behavior of electrons. As per the Theory of relativity, the faster anything with mass moves, the heavier it gets.
As the nucleus of the atom of Berkelium is heavily charged, the electrons start to move at fractions of the speed of light, causing them to become heavier than normal condition. For these typical rules of quantum mechanics for the behavior of electrons start to fail.
Berkelium is significantly used to synthesize new elements by the scientists. But not much is known about it and any element beyond it. Albrecht-Schmitt and his team have been given 13 milligrams of Berkelium by the Department of Energy. It has a half-life of 320 days so the team has to move very fast.