number of different atoms ?


Joined Mar 24, 2008
Don't forget nanomachines, for all intense and purposes the numbers of molecules are infinite, they are so large we will never be able to count them. If you prefer you could use Carl Sagan's numerous concept, for us humans it's much the same thing.

Biology is one example where nanomachines can go, but a very limited application in the long run.

Nanomachines are fundamentally just precision molecules, made to order. We're getting there.

Thread Starter


Joined Jul 21, 2008
Ok, well in theory if the universe contains finite atoms and their is only one universe.
Then if we denote M = the total number of atoms in the universe.

Then M! + (M M-1) + (M M-2) + ....+ (M 1) would be all the possible atoms used in every possible material construction. And the only thing that could be varied to make infinity possibilities is the arrangement/direction of the atoms. Which if their are infinite vaild directions and arrangements (based on bonding maybe) then their could be infinity possible different materials / structures .... if not then their would be only finite amount of possible atoms to select and finite amount of ways to arrange the atoms.... so their would only be finite different possibilities for materials ,..etc

(of course this number would be still insurmountable to practicely produce all of them. )

Curious to know 2 things.
First Is their only finite amount of atoms in the universe (I think this is undetermined)
But in theory I would think if we can manufacture some atoms then some things in nature can destroy and create atoms. (thus proving that the number of atoms in the universe varies)

Is their only a finite amount of positions/directions/arrangement of any given set of atoms.
May some chemist knows if their is limitations based on bonding (but in general I think it is unsolved )

If both those questions where finite then my above argument or statements would hold true that their can only be finite different materials.

But if any one of them is not true or if their is multiple universes that may have infinite atoms or different properties of matter in it... then my reasoning would not definitely hold.

All of this we are talking about is definitely unsolved.
We probably don't have even a good estimate of the extent of it... since we don't even know how many atoms their are in the universe and a rough approx. of how many atoms in the known universe. And we don't know if their is another universes other then the one we are in...etc

Cool talk though.
I do believe we will find finite amount of different types of atoms that can fit on the periodical table. But I doubt we will have finite different molecular structures / materials.
Or that we will be able to reach close to creating them all.
Maybe I will be proven wrong some day.


Joined Nov 9, 2007
Concerning bond directions you might like to google the terms






Did you pick up my comments in post#12 about metallic and ionic bonding?


Joined Nov 3, 2011
Ok, well in theory if the universe contains finite atoms and their is only one universe. ... so their would only be finite different possibilities for materials ,..etc
At the same time, of course. (which I think was not that what you where looking for. But I could be wrong. But "potential possibilities" versus "practical limits" should be kept clearly separated (When possible of course.).)
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