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Tom Lehrer has some work to do...
September 28, 2009 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been able to confirm the production of the superheavy element 114, ten years after a group in Russia, at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, first claimed to have made it. The search for 114 has long been a key part of the quest for nuclear science’s hoped-for Island of Stability.
(Experience is especially long at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley – not least because Glenn Seaborg discovered plutonium here early in 1941.)
The Periodic Table will continue to refer to the element by its IUPAC systematic element name, ununquadium, until agreement is made on a final "trivial" name for the element.

Previously on MeFi: Element 112.

Tom Lehrer's classic song, "The Elements".
posted by darkstar (16 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tom Lehrer's classic song, "The Elements".

I like Jesse Dangerously's version.
posted by Jairus at 4:14 PM on September 28, 2009


Poetic Table of the Elements
posted by Joe Beese at 4:21 PM on September 28, 2009


until agreement is made on a final "trivial" name for the element.

Has anyone already pinched "unobtanium"?
posted by briank at 4:38 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's getting so we can't trust what high school science taught us (unclear isomers). I guess it's not enough to know that you're talking about 287Uuq, but you have to refer to 278aUuq or 278bUuq. Yay science.
posted by jepler at 4:47 PM on September 28, 2009


Dubna is the city that element 105, Dubnium, is named after.
posted by mhum at 4:48 PM on September 28, 2009


Apparently, if element 114 is produced with 184 neutrons, that reaches the "island of stability" mentioned in the post's links and also narrated in detail in Oliver Sack's NYT op-ed piece from 2004.

The current theories suggest that such an isotope leads to a super-heavy metal with a decently long half-life. I think the possibility exists that sufficient quantities of future "stable" metals can be produced and held in one's hand -- a brand new space-age metal with its own unique properties. That's kinda neat. Transparent aluminum?!

Isotopes based on 114 are, according to Sacks, a heavier analogue of lead. 112 is a heavier gold analogue (if I disunderstand the periodic table unright), but decays far too fast: no Philosopher's Stone there. Perhaps at higher proton counts.

I love this stuff.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 5:12 PM on September 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sadly, because we haven't been able to find any of these superheavy elements in nature I very much doubt that they will have long enough half-lives to enable one to be able to hold some of the pure element in their hand, not without some serious radiation burns anyway.

I hope I'm worng about this.

Jubal: We already have transparent aluminium, well transparent alumina at least. Sapphire is Al2O3 + some impurities that give it colour (not all sapphires are blue). Syntheic sapphire is used in supaermarket checkout scanners, becuse of it's scratch resistance properties.
posted by JustAsItSounds at 6:39 PM on September 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Whoa.


Heavy.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:53 PM on September 28, 2009


Are we sure they didn't just make it up?
posted by albrecht at 7:04 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey who let in all these elephants?
posted by Jugwine at 7:27 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Transparent aluminum was produced - very briefly - in the UK in July by irradiating aluminum (or, I suppose, aluminium) with an X-ray laser, rendering it invisible in ultraviolet for a really short time. They're actually calling it a new state of matter. Which is way cooler than just something to make strong windows out of.

How come Scotty needed transparent bulkheads for the whales, anyway? Wouldn't garden-variety aluminum have been good enough?
posted by Michael Roberts at 9:23 PM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't garden-variety aluminum have been good enough?

But then you can't tap on the glass and bug the fishies.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:13 AM on September 29, 2009


Wouldn't garden-variety aluminum have been good enough?

Then how do you see the whales?
posted by odinsdream at 6:38 AM on September 29, 2009


Then how do you see the whales?

By diverting the power from the dilithium crystals through the main deflector array, of course. Sheesh. Do I have to spell it all out for you, Scotty?
posted by Michael Roberts at 9:52 AM on September 29, 2009


SCIENCE! Yay more high number elements. Epileptic Warning - Video is full of flashy blinky goodness.
posted by msbutah at 9:03 PM on September 29, 2009


Interesting that 114 was apparently confirmed before 113. Hopefully people will publish periodic tables with gaps.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 8:36 AM on September 30, 2009


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