back to article Super-heavy element 117 DOES exist – albeit briefly. Got any berkelium handy?

Scientists at Germany's GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research have successfully recreated a new type of element, paving the way for its admission into the periodic table. "This is an important scientific result and a compelling example of international cooperation in science, advancing superheavy element research by …

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Trollface

rut roh Shaggy

>decays into element 115

Where are the zombies? Stupid yes but its Friday and I really don't want to do code reviews right now.

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Pint

"... pretty much no practical use..."

No practical use?

But "element 117 has a half-life measured in milliseconds", so it be used in appropriate quantities within the latest Durable Goods (especially dishwashers, washing machines) to precisely time their failure just outside the one year warranty.

In fact, the manufacturers may claim Prior Art.

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What? Renaming atoms?

I have about three dozen Periodic Tables of [something] in electronic form.

Two of those are actual of tables of real-life elements. Well, even if they are short-lived elements...

Both list 117 Ununseptium, and 118 Ununoctium.

Sure, everything from 104 onwards are mostly theoretical and of academic value only, and elements from 112 onwards are ununimaginitively named, (no, I spelled that right), but renaming it? What am I going to do with my posters and shower curtain periodic tables? Don't these scientists have any consideration for people with printed charts when they create their atoms willy-nilly?

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Re: What? Renaming atoms?

1. Those names are provisional names which are just Latin forms of their atomic numbers (quod ullus morus scit.)

2. Provisional names are reserved for elements which have not been discovered and verified.

3. Giving discovered elements non-provisional names provides a quick way to identify what has actually been proven to exist and what is only theoretical. Your electronic periodic tables are incorrect if they're marking 113,115, 117 or 118 as actually verified.

4.It also provides job security in the economically influential periodic table printing industry. Keep refreshing those posters and shower curtains every time a new element is created: you're supporting tens of jobs.

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Linux

Re: What? Renaming atoms?

Ununoctium: Uuo 118

Series: Noble gases

Group:18

Period:7

p-block

Discovered: 2006 (Russia/United States)

Joint Inst. for Nuclear Research / Lawrence Livermore Lab.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What? Renaming atoms?

From Wiki:

In 2011, IUPAC evaluated the 2006 results of the Dubna-Livermore collaboration and concluded: "The three events reported for the Z = 118 isotope have very good internal redundancy but with no anchor to known nuclei do not satisfy the criteria for discovery"

So technically Ununoctium still hasn't been discovered which is why it still has a provisional name.

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Re: What? Renaming atoms?

'What any black mulberry tree knows'?

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Joke

Re: What? Renaming atoms?

How can they possibly be accused of not showing due consideration for others? They named the damn thing the Periodic Table for Christ's sake. Like 'periodic updates', 'periodic email offers from our partners', 'periodic moments of instability'.

It's right there in the name. I really don't know what more they can do.

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Happy

Re: 'What any black mulberry tree knows'?

Morus can also mean fool. But your translation is acceptable.

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Re: What? Renaming atoms?

As any chemist knows, "periodic" is any molecule with the highest oxidation state of the iodine atom.

Periodic acid and sodium periodate are the best-known examples, and periodic acid + Schiff's reagent are used in a test for glycogen.

The periodic table started off as a list of all the known periodic compounds but Mendeleev got bored, started doodling other elements in the margins, and suddenly realised that with the wind in the right direction he could fit all the elements in there in some sort of logical order. It just left only one box for iodine, so all the periodates he'd started off with had to be left out.

I hope this clarifies the matter,as you seem to think that "periodic" has some other significance. You'll be telling me next that "unionised" has a meaning other than the state of salts dissolved in non-polar solvents.

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Syx

Re: What? Renaming atoms?

You must have missed the "joke alert".

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Pint

Re: What? Renaming atoms?

118 Ununoctium.

Named after our Great Leader (Kim Jong-un), who happens to be the discoverer.

LOL.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What? Renaming atoms?

"These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard:

There may be many others but they haven't been Discarvard."

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Re: What? Renaming atoms?

Assuming Syx is replying to me, sadly and obviously erroneously I thought the joke alert for my post would have been superfluous.

I haven't actually written a factual account of how Mendeleev created the periodic table, you know.

Sodium periodate is an interesting chemical, though.

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Coat

How about...

... Unobtainium?

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Re: How about...

Currently, that would be 118 and above.

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Re: How about …

Graham, given its brief half-life, I’d suggest Abivium (symbol Ab), from the Latin verb abeo.

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Re: How about...

> Unobtainium

It has been obtained, so that does not seem appropriate.

How about "hardtogetium"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How about...

wherethefuckhasitgoneium?

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Re: How about...

I think my keys are made of that.

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I particularly enjoyed the "whooshing" sound of the Calcium ions in the video.

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U of Nevada, Las Vegas

Did they run the Monte Carlo simulations...?

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Island of stability?

This is currently an island like Gilligan's. Fanciful,entertaining to watch,and as real. Still not proven but nice to look for.

The biggest is the element Skipper.

The prettiest is Mary Ann or Ginger!

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Happy

Re: Island of stability?

"Unobtainium - and the rest - here on Gilligan's Island."

At least that's how I remember it, now.

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Mushroom

Re: Island of stability?

"Berkelium has a half-life of 330 days and after that time 50 per cent of your sample will have decayed into californium-249"

Stable? Berkelium and Californium? Considering the extremely short half life,

"Whycannooneelsebutcalcium"? or (with apologies to Douglas Adams)

"Almostbutnotcompletelyunobtanium"....

(gets lead coat, heads s l o w l y to the door....)

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Hundredseventeenium

Howgh

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'new ways that atoms can be ... potentially made to decay more slowly'

Huh? Come again?

AFAIK the only thing that can change the half-life of an atom is to add a pinch of relativity, e.g. move it very quickly or put it in an intense gravitational field. What other new ways do you have in mind?

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Joke

Re: 'new ways that atoms can be ... potentially made to decay more slowly'

Sulphur dioxide. At least it seems to do the trick for bread atoms.

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Re: 'new ways that atoms can be ... potentially made to decay more slowly'

The atomic number, like 117 is the count of protons in the nucleus, but the stability depends strongly on the number of neutrons. E.g. in the simplest hydrogen has none, the Deuterium isotope has one and both are stable, while Tritium has two and decays to half over 12.3 years.

So with the "island of stability" (which is a relative measure, none will be *that* stable) there is a great uncertainty about what the effect of differing isotopes will be. Unfortunately it is damn hard to make any of them, let along high neutron count versions.

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I suggest

Narrativium. In honour of Sir Terry, and because making stuff like this makes a good story.

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PM.

Isn't it Elerium ?

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That's supposed to be 115. That element is currently undergoing confirmation and is expected to be officially added (and named) pretty soon.

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Hats off

... to a fellow X-Com fan.

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Greatscottium

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Coat

She don't lie, she don't lie...

Ununseptium. Why is that making me think of Danniella Westbrook?

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Berkelium

I'm mostly impressed by them synthesising a whole 13mg of Bk, especially as it seems a whole gramme of the stuff has been made in total, with the result that it has been properly characterised. By transuranic standards, it's a low cost, plentiful building material. Perhaps Tim Worsthall could give some attention to how you might set up a commodities market in berkelium; high speed trading would surely be needed.

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Re: Berkelium

Berkelium sounds like something for floating berks.

For 117 how about Kinrapidium

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Boffin

Start of the new chemistry?

I remember reading an article that speculated on the very heavy elements becoming stable again (I've forgotten the logic behind it), thus opening up an entirely new "heavy metal chemistry".

Now where's my axe and Black Sabbath T-shirt?

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Re: Start of the new chemistry?

It goes to the atomic arrangements. Noble gases are supposed to be the most stable because their proton and electron arrangements form complete patterns, but it kinda breaks down with Radon (it's supposed to be a noble gas, but it's radioactive).

Looking at the current periodic table, one hot goal right now seems to be confirming element 118. This is because it's supposed to be a noble gas, but because it occurs after Radon which is radioactive, it's hard to say just how it will behave. Any data on the matter will help to explain further whether or not atomic stability can still be maintained at such a high weight. Could also help to explain the Strong Force better.

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Re: Start of the new chemistry?

Noble gases are chemically unreactive, but it says nothing about their nuclear properties.

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Boffin

Re: Start of the new chemistry? - @jonathanb

Also the problem is that if there is an island of stability, the most stable isotopes are likely to have even numbers of protons and neutrons. It's not just enough to find two rocks to bang together, they have to be ones for which the arithmetic adds up properly, thus making things even more difficult.

Banging together two big nuclei is likely to make them very wobbly, and thus very likely to fall apart before settling down to stability. Adding one neutron or proton at a time, like Lego, isn't possible because of all the unstable steps in between the starting and finishing point.

Thus the island of stability could exist, be very large, and yet we could have no way at all of reaching it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re. Island of Stability

Does "El Reg" count as peer review, because I had an idea a few months ago about hyperdeformed nuclei being metastable due to resonant Cooper pair decoupling at very low temperatures.

Of course, try getting something like this published and any fule kno that it will get rejected out of hand amid laughs and catcalls.

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Re: Re. Island of Stability

What is arxiv

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particularly clueless politicians

'There are some – particularly clueless politicians.' I'm not quite sure what this is supposed to mean. I know politicians are not highly regarded. But what is the alternative? They after all reflect the society in which we live. Get rid of them and replace them with what? A new group of people to represent us (remember, we live in a democracy).

If you have new people what would they be like? Well look at the loonies in UKIP to see what self-selecting people you get. So get rid of democracy -- but then you get an authoritarian society where the views of one person, or a committee, dominate.

So be careful what you wish for: 'particularly clueless politicians' may be the best thing we can wish for.

It would have been good to have something on the 'island of stability' -- rather than just mentioning it; and especially as that seems to be the motivation for the entire project.

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Re: particularly clueless politicians

> 'There are some – particularly clueless politicians.' I'm not quite sure what this is supposed to mean.

a) Clueless politicians in particular

b) Politicians who are especially clueless

> But what is the alternative?

Encourage them to educate themselves a little before speaking, rather than to simply pontificate.

Part of the problem is the effect of 24-hour rolling news and social media over the last few decades, which encourages people to spout off without knowing the facts. When did you last hear a politician respond to a journalist's unexpected question with something like "I don't know. Call and ask me tomorrow, once I've had a chance to research the facts and give them due consideration."?

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Re: particularly clueless politicians

Part of the problem is the effect of 24-hour rolling news and social media over the last few decades, which encourages people to spout off without knowing the facts. When did you last hear a politician respond to a journalist's unexpected question with something like "I don't know. Call and ask me tomorrow, once I've had a chance to research the facts and give them due consideration."?

True, but there are politicians who make some effort to provide more thorough, nuanced responses. I'm not a particular fan of Justin Amash (US House, R Michigan), for example, but I believe he's posted an explanation for every one of his votes to his Facebook page; so at least his constituents have some idea of what he supports and why.

Similarly, I've heard my own rep in extended radio interviews more than once, where the interviewer asked some hardball questions. Again, I may not agree with him, but I know he's making some effort to supplement vapid sound-bite reporting with something of substance.

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Childcatcher

Obviously a strong textbook-publisher lobby...

though there might be practical disadvantages to a textbook that falls apart before the teacher has said, "Good morning class".

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Pint

Obvious wheeze

From the photo is is obvious these guys are onto a good wheeze.

They have the German government paying for their moonshine experiments.

Should have called is Schnappium.

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jjk
Headmaster

Re: Obvious wheeze

ITYM "Schnapsium".

As a former student at TU Darmstadt, I'll hold out for Datterichium or Niebergallium.

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Bah!

I did this very same experiment with the very same results some 45 years ago. I cannot prove it because most of the proof decayed almost immediately and my mum threw out the rest with my comic books.

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