Lithium pp 15-31 | Cite as

The Chemistry and Biochemistry of Lithium

  • R. J. P. Williams


Life, as we know it, is confined to the chemistry of certain elements. This restriction has been brought about partly by the relative stability of the nuclei of the elements, partly by the kinetic path which produced the different nuclei from protons, and partly by the distribution into which these nuclei have been frozen in planetary systems. Taking these points one at a time, lithium has a nucleus, atomic weight 7, of quite high stability compared with 3H+ + 4 neutrons. Since elements such as hydrogen, with a nucleus of low stability, and carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, with nuclei of only somewhat greater stability than lithium, are plentiful, lithium should have been present in large quantities on earth. It is not. This is obviously not a consequence of the slow transformation of neutrons and protons to higher elements, which explains the low abundance of atoms of much higher atomic number, e.g., molybdenum, but is now known to be due to the path of nuclear transformations which produced large amounts of carbon and oxygen, but missed lithium (Fig. 1).


Lithium Salt Adenosine Triphosphatase Hydration Energy Lithium Cation Magnesium Salt 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. P. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Inorganic Chemistry DepartmentOxford UniversityOxfordEngland

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