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From what I know about the periodic table, in order to add a new element it would have to be above the current highest element. And up there this new element would be unstable.

But could I just replace an already existing element on the table, such as iron or a lesser known metal like vanadium? The new element would take on the atomic number of Vanadium. Is this possible?

This element (we'll call it Lerite) is going to act sort of like a magnet, but instead of magnetic force it's a different but similar force, allowing organisms to use telekinesis. SO it'd be a great help to know what metal is uncommon in a earth like planet, but wouldn't be missed if it were replaced. Obviously Iron and gold is off the table. But more obscure elements which are useless to humans. Preferably it would be magnetic.

To simplify things, I don't want to add a new element as that would be impossible. I want to know if you could replace a current element on the table with a new one. SO: Not add. Replace.


Thanks to some ATOMIC answers I know now that replacing an element isn't possible: It's still iron if it's got the same amount of protons. So to achieve my goal I'll just add a new force caused by a new subatomic particle that only a few suitable elements will use. Likely I'll be renaming these (if not all) elements on the table due to a different history. What fun.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 11 '18 at 0:51
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    $\begingroup$ You could give it Δ++ but who knows what that does. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Feb 11 '18 at 4:27
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    $\begingroup$ Judging by the properties you have in mind, SF hardness is not your aim -- since nothing in the known nature even remotely resembles those. You thus have an artistic license to just handwave the element's position in the table and such since they are not important to the enjoyment of the story. (FWIW, it doesn't even have to be an element since for all intents and purposes, it's a new substance.) Moreover, you'll probably have to do that to justify its Unobtainium status: ... $\endgroup$ – ivan_pozdeev Feb 11 '18 at 7:26
  • $\begingroup$ ... if it has half-life of more than a fraction of a second, it's going to be syntesizable from naturally found elements in practical amounts with today's nuclear reactor technology. $\endgroup$ – ivan_pozdeev Feb 11 '18 at 7:29
  • $\begingroup$ Too many scientific IQ points in this crowd for me to venture an official answer, but perhaps if you go with a compound, the atomic diagram for it could form some arcane or occult symbol. For example, some element might link to four other atoms of itself in a structure which when drawn out looks like a pentagram. It could then be that the unusual behavior that the compound expresses is magical rather than chemical in nature. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Nov 22 '18 at 15:30

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Unfortunately no, you can't replace an element of the periodic table because the ordering of the elements on the periodic table are based on the number protons found in the nucleus of the atom. However, you may have another option.

Carbon has 6 protons, always. Give it an extra neutron? Still carbon. Give it an extra electron? Still carbon. Give it an extra proton? Now it's nitrogen. No getting around around it, any atom with 6 protons is defined as carbon, so you can't just replace spot number six with a different element.

However, that doesn't mean that all carbon acts the same. Diamonds are made of carbon. Graphite is made of carbon. Why are they so different? Because of the atomic structures that carbon can stably form. Allotropy is the ability for some chemical elements(like carbon) to take multiple forms, and this can result in vastly different properties from the same base element.

So, while you can't scientifically replace an existing element with a new element, you certainly can semi-scientifically say that some element has weird properties when structured a certain way, and that simply nobody had tested that form yet in our world.

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    $\begingroup$ Technically, if you give it an extra neutron, it's an isotope of carbon, and if you give it an extra electron, it's an ion. $\endgroup$ – jdunlop Feb 7 '18 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ Do note that the result may be the upheaval of the entire periodic table system, if it fails to sufficiently describe the behavior of each element. This may not be a bad thing. It happens in science all the time. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Feb 8 '18 at 1:02
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    $\begingroup$ Actually, you can place the element on a parallel plane to the table if you use exotic particles in its nucleus or shell. Muons, for example. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exotic_atom $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Feb 8 '18 at 6:42
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    $\begingroup$ @jdunlop All atoms are isotopes of their respective elements, adding a neutron just makes it a different isotope. There's no "carbon" different from "an isotope of carbon." $\endgroup$ – Kevin Feb 8 '18 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ Relevant: Ice-nine (not to be confused with Ice-IX), which works in this way. $\endgroup$ – Izkata Feb 8 '18 at 22:45
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Option 1: Island of Stability

As @AlexP mentioned in a comment, there is a theory called the Island of Stability, that states that there may be a window (or windows) in the super-heavy elements which are stable. The current expected window is in the 120s, but you could have another window; say the 180s or 230s (or whatever). The elements might occur extremely rarely in nature; say one or two atoms from the largest of supernovae. And once scientists in your world find it, they could replicate it.

Option 2: Compound Rather than Atom

You could make a compound rather than a single element. Since other answers have covered it, I will just point out that this is a fairly common sci-fi trope, like Promicin from The 4400 (a neurotransmitter) or Midichlorians from Star Wars (a mitochondria like cellular symbiote)

Option 3: An Alternate Subatomic Particle

You could introduce a new particle to the nucleus. Let's call it teleron. A teleron has 20% more mass than a proton, and has one half charge of a proton, and also a telekinetic charge. So then you could have Telecarbon, which has four protons and four telerons. It is heavier than carbon, but has the same positive charge, so it can take the place of carbon in certain compounds. Enough Telecarbon (or Telerons in general) in a person's body, and they can manipulate the TK charge.

Option 4: Just Pick One

Instead of replacing an element, just pick one and use it.

Option 5: One or More of the Above

Use Telecarbon, but it is only useful in a certain compound. Or in a compound with rare element 333.

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    $\begingroup$ A well thought out answer with options : o $\endgroup$ – Shyassasain Feb 8 '18 at 0:41
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    $\begingroup$ Option 1: Not suitable because the element needs to be relatively abundant Option 2: I'll have to look into compounds a bit more, but this does sound like a necessary part. Option 3: Indeed I'll be using a whole new particle, it seems to be the best way to do this. Option 4: I'll be using a variety of elements which will emit this force with varying strengths, As I said, this is a great answer with clear options. I'd upvote but I'm a new member. But Thank you very much for the input : ) $\endgroup$ – Shyassasain Feb 8 '18 at 2:41
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    $\begingroup$ With Option 4 you could use one of the unstable rare elements and claim a stable isotope with way more neutrons e.g. Astatine. A large number of neutrons would allow to handwave any new physic and even a separate name if scientists first didn't realize it's the same element. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astatine $\endgroup$ – Jens Schauder Feb 8 '18 at 8:02
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    $\begingroup$ I love the 3rd option. While not being hard-science, it describes the general idea quite well and it's more descriptive than some random unobtanium thing which usually looks more like the lack of imagination or scientific prowess of the author. $\endgroup$ – user2851843 Feb 8 '18 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ One possibility to make #1 more viable, give the element an Inverse Half-life. So in the presence of some other element it converts that element into itself... Then it can be both rare, naturally occurring, and producible. I might suggest making it react with Silver (47) and have it be 186 (in one of the proposed island of stability). $\endgroup$ – aslum Feb 8 '18 at 15:30
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Given what you're trying to achieve, new elements aren't going to help you. I'm not an organic chemist, but what I do know about organic chemistry is that the effect you're trying to achieve is almost always solved with a compound, not an element.

Caffeine (C8H10N4O2); a carbo-hydro-nitrate (?) gives us a lift and makes us feel more energetic because it mimics a chemical in the brain that is generated when we're tired. The receptors for that chemical in the brain receive enough of that chemical, and it tells our brain 'we're tired'. We go to sleep, the chemical breaks down and our brain is no longer receiving the tired signal.

What Caffeine does is block the receptors, without triggering the response. As such, it actually blocks the real chemical from being received by the brain so it doesn't get the signal being generated chemically.

(This is all a simplification, but functionally correct)

The point being, that exotic elements aren't that common in drugs that affect the brain. Check out Alcohol (C2H6O), LSD (C20H25N3O), Cocaine (C17H21NO4), Methamphetamine (C10H15N), and even Anti-depressants.

What do all of these seem to have in common? They're all Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen combined in some permutation.

Ultimately, there's good reasons for this. These are the chemical elements that have been built into life for billions of years, and the sequencing of compounds allow for far more flexibility than a rare element.

I really think that your best bet for believability is that your secret element isn't on the Periodic Table, it's a CHNO compound that excites a specific part of the brain to over-activity, opening up a latent capability that humans would have naturally evolved in the next 500k years or so. It's certainly more scientifically more likely than a rare element combining with existing stable organic molecules to generate new classes of compounds to somehow augment a stable biological chemical code base.

But, that last statement is only personal opinion.

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    $\begingroup$ Compounts can be very simple chemicals. Take the neurotransmitter NO. Nitrous oxide. Even simpler, the heme molecule obtains its specific catalytic activity from the presence of a single iron atom. Other things need to be in place, too, but without iron no heme. I think it’s plausible to hand-wave a biomolecule involved in telekinesis that requires as a specific trace element telekinium. $\endgroup$ – Konrad Rudolph Feb 8 '18 at 18:20
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Shyassasain:

What might work for you is allotropes. That is, different crystalline structures for the same element. A famous example is graphite and diamond (both are pure carbon). Very different properties, exactly the same element. Here's the Wikipedia article on allotropy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allotropy

Kirt Vonnegut' novel Cat's Cradle uses a fictitious allotrope of water, he dubbed ice-nine, as a plot device. Actually, real water has a whole bunch allotropes, including 11 kinds of ice--depending on temperature and pressure, plus liquid, gas, and a weird phase at high temperature and pressure where there's no difference between liquid and gas. Here's a page about all the allotropes of water: http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/water_phase_diagram.html

Another example of allotropy is pure tin. At room temperature it's the familiar shiny silver metal, but drop the temperature and the atoms rearrange themselves from octahedral to tetrahedral. The crystal swells up, becomes dark gray, brittle, and cracks apart. Check out this time-lapse video taken at -40°: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXB83Heh3_c Note that the reshaping is reversible if you warm up your "tin pest," although you'll have little particles of the familiar silvery tin, not a big chunk.

Pure Plutonium is famous for it's extreme allotropy at room temperature, where it takes on 6 different crystalline forms. Never mind the toxicity and radiation, the stuff is hell to work with because it keeps shifting forms when you monkey around with it (such as trying to cast it, press it, machine it, etc).

So how might you use allotropy?

Pick an element that has the required abundance. 1) Crank the pressure waaaaaay up and raise the temperature too--your common element will rearrange itself into the perfect crystal form that's precisely what your story needs. 2) Hold the pressure and drop your temperature into the cryogenic region--crystal is still stable. 3) Hold your temperature and drop your pressure down to the normal normal region--still stable, but it'd never ever form under these conditions. 4) Raise your temperature back up to the normal region. Perhaps your new "cobalt-nine" (or whatever you call it) is semi-stable when treated this way. Maybe it looks nothing like the metallic cobalt we all know and love. Maybe it's a pale blue transparent crystal. But smack it with a hammer or zap it with an electric spark and it reverts back to metallic cobalt (just to be different, it should shrink as it does so).

Living things often concentrate and crystallize elements (e.g. teeth) and sometimes even the more exotic--such as tiny spindle-shaped crystals of magnetite in the brain--a built-in compass. Suppose some life form is able to create your "cobalt-nine" within it's brain, assembling the weird crystal atom-by-atom, and therefore gains telekinetic abilities (or whatever your story needs).

Maybe smart people figure this out and through experimentation they create synthetic "telkon" crystals and implant them into human brains. They work, but are unstable (break down) or toxic. Maybe the final answer is a thin coating of titanium (biologically inert) a few dozen atoms thick (or better yet titanium-nitride), before the crystals are injected.

Best of luck with your story. And consider using allotropes because we know so very, very little about them. Therefore you can just make stuff up and it will sound plausible.

These ideas freely given.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you~ Allotropy will definitely enter into it because I'd like for high concentrations of the element/mineral to be found high up in mountainous regions. Since rivers flow from high up to sea level it would then make sense for the element/mineral to be in the water, accessible in small amounts to the animals that use it. When a creature dies it will decompose and the mineral will eventually evaporate into the clouds(along with water), Spreading it across the world. Thanks again for an informative answer~ $\endgroup$ – Shyassasain Feb 10 '18 at 0:22
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Firstly, Lerite sounds like a mineral, not an element, so I think if you are going to invent an element you should give it a more appropriate name.

Some elements have more than one name (columbium is now called niobium for example) so it could be an existing element.

Dysprosium (element 66) has been mentioned in another answer, but I don't see it as particularly significant. All the Lanthanide series are quite rare, but Samarium (element 62) is used in powerful samarium cobalt magnets.

If you're looking for an element with weird properties, try Technetium, element 43. Despite its fairly low atomic number, it has no stable isotopes so it must always be prepared from other elements and is highly radioactive. Similar levels of instability aren't seen again until you get past Lead (element 82.) You could handwave a stable form of technetium, I suppose, though it's not physically possible.

The other possiblility is a compound or composite. If you want to call it lerite, it could be a mineral like Superman's kryptonite. There are many minerals formed of very mundane elements that have very distinctive properties: lapis lazuli / lazurite, opals, zeolites, and asbestos to name a few.

If you want to invent something new that is magnetic, it could be an organic compound, either synthesized by humans or other inteligent life, or by biological processes. for example you can have "plastic magnets". There are microbes that swim in a certain direction according to magnetic fields, and no-one knows how they do it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hmm Well Lerite is what I'm calling the mineral that emits this telekinetic field. I'll name the specific element something more suitable. I'm going to make a few select elements emit this "telekinetic field" but Lerite is comparable to lodestones, the first magnetic mineral discovered, but since Telekinesis has been observed (called Lera) It would be named Lerite. All I have to do now is work out which elements are suitable, or even combinations of them. Thanks~ $\endgroup$ – Shyassasain Feb 8 '18 at 2:35
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Your best bet would probably be Dysprosium. It's barely magnetic, but does fall under the ferromagnetic category, and is less vital than pretty much any other element in that category.

I might remove the "science" tag from your question, though, because "allowing organisms to use telekinesis" isn't within the bailiwick of any element's natural properties.

(I should note that the atomic number of the element would have to be the same, so you'd have the same number of protons, the same electron orbitals, and presumably much the same chemical properties, if that matters to you.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, that's very helpful. Dysprosium just might be perfect for my purposes. I think in this fictional universe there will just be another force that some elements emit rather than just one. I'll take a closer look at the periodic table for similar elements. $\endgroup$ – Shyassasain Feb 7 '18 at 23:51
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Walks up to periodic table. Crosses out hydrogen and replaces it with onegen. Universe fails to implode and nobody gains telekinesis.

You can do it, but it wouldn't change physics. The periodic table has no magic powers to control physics. We could've easily defined elements by neutron or electron count. So all you'd be really doing is producing an alternative history which is clearly not the focus of your question.

So let us go back to the drawing board and think about what in physics acts like telekinesis. Answering that will be more useful than defining unobtainium and then trying to explain why telekinetic machinery doesn't exist. After all one of the primary principles of biology is that no particular molecule in a lifeform is in any way not producable artificially with the proper circumstances. Certainly physics would've discovered it.

So what is telekinesis as a physical concept?

It is an invisible "force" that moves objects.

It doesn't discriminate between metal/nonmetal objects.

Depending on the version weight/mass is irrelevant for a telekinetic (but possibly volume).

This is literally the description of gravity. So telekinesis can somehow theoretically manipulate gravity. However, gravity is not a true force. It is a pseudo force due to space time curvature due to mass. A pseudo force is like when you turn a corner at high speed in a car and feel yourself being pushed inside the car. You are not. What is actually happening is that the car is accelerating away from you (changing direction) and sliding into you. It is the result of observing a physical event within an accelerating frame of reference.

Anyways space time is a 4-d "surface" in our 3-dimensional space and the 4th dimension is "time" (not quite as I am not a physicist and dont know the details). I believe it is quadratic/polynomial but that might be me misunderstanding. Basic principles you need to know are this:

It causes gravity.

Mass distorts it.

Light travels along its geodesics

A geodesic is the topological/geometric concept of "drawing a straight line on a connected surface". This means that telekinesis distorting spacetime will cause weird light phenomena. Expect people to "see" around a corner because spacetime bent weird. Furthermore all light phenomena (reflection,refraction,moving slower when not in a vacuum,etc.) are due to space time bending around mass. So telekinesis also allows for general light redirection and refraction. They cannot isolate a particular photon but if we consider photons to be "trains" then telekinetic people can arbitrarily move the "tracks". Remember light moves so fast it is essentially instant motion on Earth so nobody can grab a photon.

So how can telekinetic people distort spacetime?

Simple: mass

Somehow telekinetic people are connected by some kind of mental link to a completely vegetative lifeform that lives essentially extra-dimensional. When they use telekinesis they are just making the creature move by commanding it. It has to obey because the symbiotic relationship between early single cell life on earth and this billions of years old functionally immortal lifeform. It gave cells an advantage by giving them mass to move that would essentially distort spacetime due to sheer and utter mass. As a result the lifeform would recieve natural sunlight as all light be funnelled past its distortion. Think of a cosmic whomping willow tree that makes wormholes and gravity distortions just to get sunlight for photosynthesis.

As a result, this creature is sometimes referred to as the so called Yygdrasil or world tree and is the "source" of all psychic power. It isnt a special particle that produces telekinesis. It is just a tree so large and so dense that it can manipulate gravity by the command of people having ancient yggdarite cell proteins being produced by their body so that the tree with respond appropriately. It is basically spatial pheromones. When it senses them it decodes them like dna and uses that to determine where to distort spacetime so it can collect light. Perhaps as humans use more telekinesis the tree will adapt and stop responding to indoor telekinesis. At that time, people will probably speculate that telekinesis is a power granted by the sun. Ah if only they knew!

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    $\begingroup$ -1 We could've easily defined elements by neutron or electron count. No, we could not. The chemical similarity of an element and the reaction properties are explicitly defined by proton count. Stripping or adding electrons happens all the time (Hint: electricity). While neutrons do change physical properties (melting point etc.), they have neglible influence on chemical properties. The rest of your text does not answer the question at all. $\endgroup$ – Thorsten S. Feb 8 '18 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ @ThorstenS. Really? If someone chose to name elements as atoms with similar electron counts, why would that be in any way wrong? I'm not saying to do so now. I'm saying that if that were how it was defined it wouldn't change physics. It would be weird, but nothing special would happen. Note, the op is NOT asking how to make up an element. They are asking how to achieve: "This element (we'll call it Lerite) is going to act sort of like a magnet,but instead of magnetic force it's a different but similar force, allowing organisms to use telekinesis.". What the OP wants is telekinesis. $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Feb 8 '18 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ @ThorstenS. did I not come up with a scientifically plausible way for an organism to have telekinesis? $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Feb 8 '18 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ Ok Well the super giant telekinetic symbiotic creature you're describing is certainly a whole lot cooler than a little particle XD. You should write a book about that! Thanks for a great answer and imaginative solution : p $\endgroup$ – Shyassasain Feb 8 '18 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ @TheGreatDuck Well my first solution was that there'd be a mineral/element that emits a telekinetic field, which is abundant, non radioactive, and can be incorporated into biology, but I didn't want to just say "AND THEN THERE WAS LERITE" since we already know most (if not all) of the elements that can exist on an earth like planet. Your answer isn't wrong though. Imaginative answers are always welcome : p $\endgroup$ – Shyassasain Feb 8 '18 at 17:02
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What you could vaguely hand wave around is Nuclear Energy Levels.

In this case, we take an existing element, and add energy to the nucleus to put it in an excited state. Now, with a bit of hand waving, we say that the organisms involved have structures inside their brain cells that can direct the collapse of these nuclei into their ground state or raise them into an excited state.

The excited state would, in this scenario, have an extremely strong ferromagnetic effect that could be directed - since the organism could control the generated field at the atomic level. Since all materials have some sensitivity to magnetic fields, this would be the basis of your telekinesis.

This is not absolute hand-waving, at least in that chemical processes can affect nuclear decay. So it's just possible that a protein tightly bound to a heavy metal atom could influence/detect nuclear energy state changes. I'd pick an obscure heavy element like Iridium, you don't need a 'new' element.

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What do you mean when you ask "can I"?

If you mean, is this scientifically possible, the answer is no. The periodic table isn't just a random collection of elements put together in an arbitrary order. An element's position in the periodic table determines all sorts of attributes of that element. When Mendeleev proposed the periodic table, he arranged elements to fit the available spaces, and he noticed a number of gaps. He then theorized that these gaps represented elements that had not yet been discovered. He described what the properties of these elements would be, things like what other elements they would combine with, density, freezing and boiling points, etc. When other chemists found these elements and they fit Mendeleev's predictions, that was strong evidence that his theory was correct. Thus, any element appearing at a certain location in the periodic table MUST have certain properties.

But if you mean, if I need a new element with certain properties to make my story work, can I pretend it exists? At which point one can only say, or what? The Novel Writing Police will not arrest you for inventing a fictitious element. I doubt that a horde of chemists will form a mob and attack you in the street.

The nature of fiction is that as long as you state your premises up front, and make the rest of the story follow logically from that, the reader will generally go along. You only alienate the reader if you wait to introduce made-up facts until the time when they're needed to make the story work. Like, if at the beginning of a mystery story you mention that the victim always wore red socks, and then at the end the brilliant detective refers to this crucial clue to solve the case, all fair. But if you never mentioned it before and suddenly at the climax of the story the detective says, "And as the victim always wore red socks, therefore ..." and this solves the case, the reader is going to feel cheated because you brought this in out of nowhere.

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I think that it could replace niobium (45) on the periodic table because it is already magnetic and isn't used quite often because it is so strong. Not many people know niobium that is why. But that is all theoretically speaking because nothing can be taken away from the periodic table because every piece is important. Also it is possible to have a stable element after element 118. This is called "the island of stability" but is still to be proven.

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  • $\begingroup$ Niobium is in the same group as Vanadium and tantalum, I'm veering towards using those 3, as they can be used in steel alloys as well, and have interesting properties. One issue is the melting point, Nioboum melts at 2400c, and Tantalum at 3300c+ A bit too high for a normal Blacksmiths forge. $\endgroup$ – Shyassasain Feb 12 '18 at 17:43
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Lo and behold, a magic portal opened from the plane of same but different!

Protons on this plane do not exist but are telekons. They share similar properties to our universes protons, but some strange kind of vibrational sensitivity to electro magnetic waves.

By use of stellar power/nova's/science thingimajig atoms were constructed using telekons in stead of protons. They behave the same like elements constructed with protons chemically, they only have the strange vibrational sensitivity to elctromagnetic waves, causing extra electrons to be created from the wave to a steady current. How this is done by the material is sadly not understood due to incompatible equipment to study telekons in our universe. We can only observe it's effects.

Of course the first implementation used when this material was discovered was to make infinite power generators. after an accident in a factory some employees inhaled too much telekon oxygen which caused them splitting headaches and great confusion as they could suddenly see things they normally couldn't see as their brains were flooded with the currents generated by the telekon oxygen. Some of them never recovered and died because their brains shorted out.

Long story short, a lot of properties were discovered, making mixed molecules of telekon based and proton based atoms useful for different harmonics and manipulations.

Some combination, kept secret by the world goverment enabled the cops to read minds by interpreting the electro waves generated by impulses in people's heads.

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    $\begingroup$ The problem is that there are creatures which evolved to use these "Telekons" naturally. An interesting take though. : p $\endgroup$ – Shyassasain Feb 8 '18 at 17:05
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I first thought at the bio chemistry level, then I realised.

Choose an element and instead of the protons/neutrons being made of three quarks, make it out of 4 or 5 quarks, as scientists like to do. Or two quarks.

A pentaquark is a subatomic particle consisting of four quarks and one antiquark bound together.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentaquark

PS The antiquark is not an antiquark of the other three quarks so it doesn't annihilate .

If ions and isotopes are already taken I'm at a loss to know what to call elements, like iron, with weird quarks.

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What makes an element behave physically and chemically as it does is in the end not the number of protons, but how many electrons it has in the outer shells. An example is platinum and iridium, which are physically and chemically almost identical because the outer two shells of electrons are the same, and if you buy a platinum ring, you can be sure that about 10% of it are iridium. (Additional or missing neutrons change the specific weight, and make the atom more or less stable).

It might not be entirely impossible that there is an atom where the electrons can be arranged in different ways, leading to different physical and chemical behaviour.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, by some quirk of quantum mechanics, an element having the same number of protons as, say, iron fills its electron shells in a different way to produce novel electrical, chemical, and magnetic properties (because of unusual electron orbitals). $\endgroup$ – Anthony X Feb 12 '18 at 0:04
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Consider that for the Star Trek universe, writers, perhaps Roddenberry himself, invented dilithium (for power), duranium (structural material), and kironide (confers psychokinetic powers), completely handwaving any relationships to real-world physics or chemistry. Also completely handwaved was how McCoy could concoct a kironide injection for Kirk and Spock and how it worked to enable telekinesis.

Perhaps there is no need to dive so deep into a plausible description of your fictional substance and its mechanism of operation.

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