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Of the 253 nuclides never observed to decay, only 90 of these (all from the first 40 elements) are theoretically stable to all known forms of decay.
Many other stable nuclides are in theory energetically susceptible to other known forms of decay, such as alpha decay or double beta decay, but no decay products have yet been observed, and so these isotopes are said to be "observationally stable".
The predicted half-lives for these nuclides often greatly exceed the estimated age of the universe, and in fact there are also 27 known radionuclides (see primordial nuclide) with half-lives longer than the age of the universe.
Some isotopes are radioactive, and are therefore referred to as radioisotopes or radionuclides, whereas others have never been observed to decay radioactively and are referred to as stable isotopes or stable nuclides.
For example, of which 286 are primordial nuclides, meaning that they have existed since the Solar System's formation.
For example, the alpha-decay of uranium-235 forms thorium-231, whereas the beta decay of actinium-230 forms thorium-230.
Thomson channeled streams of neon ions through a magnetic and an electric field and measured their deflection by placing a photographic plate in their path.
Each atomic number identifies a specific element, but not the isotope; an atom of a given element may have a wide range in its number of neutrons.
The number of nucleons (both protons and neutrons) in the nucleus is the atom's mass number, and each isotope of a given element has a different mass number.
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