It is demonstrated that all stable (non-radioactive) isotopes are formally interrelated as the products of systematically adding alpha particles to four elementary units. The region of stability against radioactive decay is shown to obey a general trend based on number theory and contains the periodic law of the elements as a special case. This general law restricts the number of what may be considered as natural elements to 100 and is based on a proton:neutron ratio that matches the golden ratio, characteristic of biological and crystal growth structures. Different forms of the periodic table inferred at other proton:neutron ratios indicate that the electronic configuration of atoms is variable and may be a function of environmental pressure. Cosmic consequences of this postulate are examined.