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Elements with more than 82 protons only have radioactive isotopes, although they can still occur naturally because their half-lives are more than about 2% of the time since the supernova nucleosynthesis of the elements from which our solar system was made.

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They play an important role in radiometric dating and isotope geochemistry and also helpful for determining the food web dynamics in an aquatic ecosystem The Island of Stability may reveal a number of stable atoms that are heavier (and with more protons) than lead.

There are three types of isotope fractionation: Of known elements (the first 82 from hydrogen to lead except for technetium and promethium) 80 have at least one stable nuclide.

In about 50 known cases, elements with shorter half-lives than plutonium-244 are naturally observed on Earth, since as they are produced by cosmic rays (e.g., carbon-14), or else because (like radium and polonium) they occur in a decay chain of radioactive isotopes (primarily uranium and thorium), which have long-enough half-lifes to be abundant primordially.

It is expected that continuous improvement of experimental sensitivity will allow discovery of very mild radioactivity (instability) of some isotopes that are considered stable today.

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! The graph shows that elements with more than 20 protons must have more neutrons than protons, in order to be stable.

The unbroken line passing below many of the nuclides represents the theoretical position on the graph of nuclides for which proton number is the same as neutron number.

Because of the curve of binding energy, all nuclides beyond Z = 28 (nickel) have less than nickel-62's maximal binding energy per nucleon, and are thus theoretically unstable with regard to spontaneous fission.

Some sources may give lower limits on possible half-lives for such decays, estimated either from theory or (negative) observation.

No elements have exactly eight stable isotopes, but five elements have seven stable isotopes, eight have six stable isotopes, nine have five stable isotopes, nine have four stable isotopes, five have three stable isotopes, 16 have two stable isotopes, and 26 have only a single stable isotope.

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