back to article Periodic table adding new element

Move over, Roentgenium. There's a new super-heavy chemical element joining the periodic table. The yet-to-be-named "element 112" has been officially recognized by the table's governing body, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. A team of scientists, lead by Sigurd Hofmann at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für …


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  1. northern monkey
    Thumb Up

    German nouns...

    You've just got to love them. The scientific ones are the best (although I must say they're the only ones I know).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I give it about a half hour

    before the campaign starts to name it Colbertium

  3. Anonymous Coward

    What do you get then---

    when you shoot Gallium at Lead?

  4. Steve Spiller

    Any bets on what it's going to be called?

    I'll start by naming the thing which is sinking faster than anything else on the planet - SCOX stock

  5. Martin 6 Silver badge

    Do they get names?

    I thought that heavy elements were now just named after the latin for their number?

    Didn't this get decided after a bunch of competing countries in the 80s ended up with names like, ReaganWillCrushthe EvilEmpire-ium and GloriousRevolutionTractorFactory-ium for the same element.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The Core

    Finally, let's get Unobtanium in there once and for all...

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me...

    I don't understand - I thought the whole point of an element was that it was indivisible - but here we are forming an element by fusing two others.

    I'm sure I'm very ignorant, but how does that work then?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    @The Core

    No kidding, especially since there's only 4 atoms of it so far... if that isn't unobtanium, I don't know what is...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is the point?

    So it's possible to create a new element in laboratory conditions with a miniscule life expectancy. And it gets an entry in the periodic table? It seems outrageously artificial.

  10. Anonymous John
    Paris Hilton

    What about


  11. Andus McCoatover

    Name? Braziliam, natch.

    Firing lead through a tube at an electrician? Be a fitting epitaph.

    4 atoms only? Weren't much of his head left, either. Both "112" and he survived about as long.

  12. Johnny Canuck

    I propose

    we call it Zed

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    What about Earth, Wind and Fire?

  14. the spectacularly refined chap


    My periodic table already has element 112 on it. And elements 113, 114, 115 and 116. Strangely no 117, but there is 118 there. That is all discovered elements when it was printed. Since all those elements are known and they still haven't got around to naming it why is this news all of a sudden? IUPAC have suddenly decided that it is an element when that fact was not in dispute anyway?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    all i want to know

    Is when can i get my hands on one of those atoms?

    Yeah, lasts longer than her brain cells. Who'da thunk it?

  16. John H Woods Silver badge

    @AC 20090611T2047

    No there is some, so it isn't unobtanium. But it might well be raritanium! Ratchet & Clank FTW.

  17. Camilla Smythe

    Why mess up the periodic table....

    With shit Chemists are not going to be able to do anything useful with. Like move this human invented crap over to some other section and bury it there for the Physicists.


  18. John Robson Silver badge

    Elements are indivisible

    by chemical means.

    Physicists have no such limitations.

    We're currently limited to quarks and leptons - although they are just the smallest things we know of at the moment ;)

  19. ratfox Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    This is a case

    where I wonder why those scientists get funding. What is the point? So that they can try to get 113 now?

    All right, I suppose the way it decays gives them potential insight on the way atoms are built... Still.

  20. Mike Richards

    @ 'the spectacularly refined chap' @ Anonymous Coward

    'Since all those elements are known and they still haven't got around to naming it why is this news all of a sudden? IUPAC have suddenly decided that it is an element when that fact was not in dispute anyway?'

    Although the element was actually synthesised in 1996 and repeated in 2000; the results of the decay of the daughter isotope were incompatible with one another. A third experiment in 2004 confirmed the original experiment; since then its been a matter of straightening things out the decay series.


    'So it's possible to create a new element in laboratory conditions with a miniscule life expectancy. And it gets an entry in the periodic table? It seems outrageously artificial.'

    Depends what you mean by 'artificial'; if you mean this element could never naturally exist at any time in any place in the Universe, then it is clearly natural. If you mean 'never observed on Earth before now' then it is artificial.

    Nuclear boffins have models for the nuclei of atoms which suggest that superheavy elements way beyond the current periodic table might be much more stable than other 'manmade' elements with half lives that could be hours, days, years or even geological periods. So it's a long slog looking for the Island of Stability which may or may not exist.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    @Camilla Smythe

    Well one possible reason might be research into new calming drugs, which might take your reaction down a notch or two...

    How would it "mess it up" exactly? It's another addition to the table. Like adding another street to your town doesn't "mess up" your map, you just eventually need an updated one. Or adding to any body of knowledge. So physicists have created a new element---now they can see if the resulting properties jibe with what was predicted, and learn more about physical reality. Advances of this sort are what made possible the transistor, the computer you're typing on, the Global Positioning System, and countless others. How many things in history were discovered or invented, that at the time, no one knew what to do with them and deemed them useless? You're contributing your comment to an IT site---I'd figure you would realize these things.

  22. Eddy Ito

    Re: Do they get names?

    Yes, the pseudo-latin forms are just placeholders until an element is confirmed by the IUPAC, Inebriated Ununderstandable Peoples Association of Chemistry... or something like that. In short that means that previously it was known as ununbium when it was discovered... in 1996! and the group just now sobered up enough to bless the four poor atoms... whatever that means.

  23. adnim


    Wasteofeffortium, Nouseium, Nowyouseeitnowyoudontium.

    If the smallest unit of time that could be measured was Planck time, around 5.3912 x 10^-44 seconds then I would hazard a guess that every element in the periodic table could be collided with any other to create a new element and it's existence noted. Not to mention colliding all those newly created elements to create yet more, providing of course they could be impacted with sufficient energy to overcome electrostatic repulsion to the point where the nuclear force takes over.

  24. Anonymous Coward


    "Hofmann and his team first synthesized the element in 1996 by firing charged zinc atoms through a 120 meter-long particle accelerator into a lead target. The zinc and lead nuclei were fused to form the new element."

    WOW! They were doing alchemy! They were trying to make gold out of Lead!!! Seriously, why else would you accelerate Zinc atoms at Lead. The fact thet they actually managed to change atomic weight at all suggests that if they get the right combination they just might manage it!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of things are marginally stable

    Creating new elements is a bit like firing a cannonball at a brick wall. For a brief moment there is a joint state comprising bricks and cannonball. Then all the bits go their separate ways.

    Technically, they were in a lower potential energy state while they were together due to their mutual gravitational attraction. So you could describe them as a transient wall-cannonball compound. But most of us would just call it something like a crunch.

    So Crunchium it is then.

  26. Fizzl
    Thumb Up



  27. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge



  28. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Pointlessium

    I agree!

    After all, it's a transuranic heavy element, and thus cannot be used where there is life.

    AC because they might someday get out of that flying room.

  29. Waldo

    Stop press scientists do science....thing





    Do I hear element number er, er, snort, garrg sorry, I just fell asleep.....

  30. Olof P

    @ AC Re: The core

    No, there *has been* only 4 atoms of it so far. Now there are none, again, since the last one decayed.

  31. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    @Gallium at Lead

    What you get if you fire Gallium at Lead: not enough neutrons.

    Light elements have about the same number of protons as neutrons - adding an extra neutron means populating a higher energy level. A neutron can decay into a proton and an electron, the resulting proton can drop to a lower energy level and this more than compensates for the additional electrostatic repulsion of all those protons. Heavy elements need more neutrons: the protons repel each other with electrostatic forces, but all the protons and neutrons attract each nuclear forces. The extra neutrons hold the nucleus together and make it more stable.

    The half life of 112 was so short because there were not enough neutrons to hold the nucleus together. If they had 173 neutrons instead of 165, the half life might have been several minutes (half life is estimated from trends - there is not enough (any?) direct physical data for very heavy elements). Using gallium instead of zinc adds a proton, but does not add any more neutrons, and 113 would be more stable with 174 neutrons.

  32. beardman


    I'd call it, based on the last news...

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Considering the half-life

    ...I originally thought "BritneyJustinium", but then I couldn't remember whether they'd actually done it... I mean, whether they'd actually married. Besides, too topical a joke.

    How about "Celebrityweddingium"?

  34. It wasnt me

    @ Steve 70

    Too right. What the hell are they thinking? They should be bombarding copper (29) with tin (50). Then the experiment might actually pay for itself.

  35. Edwin


    after the european emergency services number.

    Cheeky boffins may opt for:




  36. frank ly

    @Steve 70 re. Alchemists!!!

    Making gold (number 79) out of lead (number 82) in this way is not possible. You could try a variation where you blast small lumps off from a lead nucleus and hope that you get gold left behind, that may work.

    The value of any gold you manage to create would be tiny in comparison to the cost of the process of making it though. A much better way is to use a special process that I've developed which gives recoverable quantities of gold at a guaranteed profit. This process was perfected while I was at university in Nigeria. For a small investment, we can go into partnership with this process; please contact me to increase your wealth greatly and bring blessings on your family.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Is it just me...

    I wonder how AC @ 20:44 imagines nuclear reactors or weapons work...

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    Actually, people did that years ago. Lead into gold is old-hat.

    Lead into gold in a way that's vaguely economical- now THAT'S the problem. Same with creating diamonds from coal or generating petrol from dead stuff in less-than-geological terms- it's been done. But it's horrendously uneconomical so it's just a research project.

    If it's the biggest element created, verified (and soon to be named) as of yet, how about Jumbonium? Obesinium?

    Or given that it's expensive, can do far less than the other elements and will shortly be superseded by a later, more expensive, model how about iPhonium?

  39. Adrian Esdaile

    If there are only four atoms of it...

    ...why not name them individually?

    I propose: Bertha, Kermit, The Fonz and Rupert.

  40. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    I don't care about the IUPAC

    since they decided to spell sulphur with an 'f' in it, and drop the 'i' from aluminium. Bloody retarded transatlantic cousins...

  41. Nano nano


    In any case, isn't a neutron star just one hell of a lot of neutrons with, I imagine a few protons in there somewhere, so that could conceivably be considered to be a "nucleus" since it's held together by the strong force ...

  42. Alex King

    @ Ed Blackshaw

    If I recall correctly, it was actually that we added an "i" to Aluminum, not the Yanks who took an "i" from Aluminium. (Might be wrong, feel free to flame).

    Spelling Sulphur with an "f" is just dumb though.

    Oh, and Edwin has the best name for it so far.

  43. cynar

    @ Nano nano

    A neutron star is technically the biggest nucleus going, but it's held together by gravity rather than the strong force.

    On a side note, the cannon ball-wall analogy is a little wrong; a fraction of a second is a LONG time as far as sub atomic reactions go. It's more akin to the rolling away with 1/2 a dozen bricks attached to it. This gives enough time for the nucleus to stabilize before it decays again. We can study it within this window (mostly by how exactly it falls apart again but...)


  44. Hollerith 1



  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Let's hear it for Imperial units


    @nano nano: a neutron star is held together by gravity. It's too big for the strong force.

  46. Anonymous Coward


    "A team of scientists, lead by Sigurd Hofmann at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung"

    Well there you have it "Helmholtzzentrum" just *has* to be the name!

    @AC 09:06: Wasn't Jumbonium used for the Miss Universe Tiara?

    Mine's the lead-lined one.

  47. A. Coatsworth

    Re: Pointlessium

    I had proposed Futilius, but count another vote for Pointlessium over here!

    They could be using all those funds in more useful research, such as the creation of a Suicide Booth, or discovering what drug is using AmanfromMars...

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Let's hear it for imperial units


  49. CeeTee

    Another suggestion...


  50. Lindsay 2 Silver badge

    @ Alex King

    According to the almighty wiki, the American spelling is the consequence of the propagation of a spelling mistake on an advertising flyer.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I propose that we name it after you: Ignoramium.

  52. Brian Whittle


    If there is no useful need for this they need to stop messing about and do something else that is . Where is my flying car ?

  53. Zack Mollusc

    But who will play the role?

    I don't mind what they call it, as long as it appears in the next series of 'Sapphire and Steel', which I am still waiting for.

  54. bulljr

    Put the naming rights up for bid on eBay...

    and the winner will surely be GoldenPalacedotcomium (Gp).

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