How many synthetic elements are there and why are they made?
How many? Hmmm...in principle, any element can be
made, or synthesized. So all elements are potentially
synthetic. I think you might want to know "how many elements
exist only because humans make them artificially?"
In that case, my periodic table says elements 43, 61, and
93 - 103 are all synthetically created elements.
Why are they made? I can think of two reasons:
(1) so that we can learn more about why some elements
exist while others don't exist, and therefore understand
nuclear structure better
(2) because we can! (sort of like: why climb a mountain?
Ans: because it's there to climb.)
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Update: June 2012