4 new elements added to periodic table!

Any chemists dream come true! Through a collaborative effort from Russia, USA, and Japan, 4 new elements have been officially recognized by IUPAC and added to the bottom row of the periodic table of the elements. They are “superheavy” elements with atomic numbers 113, 115, 116, and 117. From NPR:

For now, they’re known by working names, like ununseptium and ununtrium — two of the four new chemical elements whose discovery has been officially verified. The elements with atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118 will get permanent names soon, according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

With the discoveries now confirmed, “The 7th period of the periodic table of elements is complete,” according to the IUPAC. The additions come nearly five years after elements 114 (flerovium, or Fl) and element 116 (livermorium or Lv) were added to the table.

The elements were discovered in recent years by researchers in Japan, Russia and the United States. Element 113 was discovered by a group at the Riken Institute, which calls it “the first element on the periodic table found in Asia.”

Three other elements were discovered by a collaborative effort among the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. That collaboration has now discovered six new elements, including two that also involved the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Classified as “superheavy” — the designation given to elements with more than 104 protons — the new elements were created by using particle accelerators to shoot beams of nuclei at other, heavier, target nuclei.

The new elements’ existence was confirmed by further experiments that reproduced them — however briefly. Element 113, for instance, exists for less than a thousandth of a second.

The seventh period of the periodic chart is now complete, thanks to the addition of four new elements.

The seventh period of the periodic chart is now complete, thanks to the addition of four new elements.

IUPAC

“A particular difficulty in establishing these new elements is that they decay into hitherto unknown isotopes of slightly lighter elements that also need to be unequivocally identified,” said Paul Karol, chair of the IUPAC’s Joint Working Party, announcing the new elements. The working group includes members of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.

The elements’ temporary names stem from their spot on the periodic table — for instance, ununseptium has 117 protons. Each of the discovering teams have now been asked to submit names for the new elements.

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Kevin Ashton describes The Dumbest Question You Can Ask A Scientist! #science

Almost as a followup to our earlier post about How To Piss Off A Scientist, I ran across an article in Daily Beast – The Dumbest Question You Can Ask A ScientistKevin Ashton writes a terrific argument that the economic value of any type of basic science is as unknown as the potential discovery.

The dumbest question you can ask a scientist—or any other creator, inventor, or discoverer—about his or her work is, “What’s the economic value?”

Ashton includes historic scientific findings that at first seemed to have little or no economic value, but wound up having huge economic value – Hertz discovery of electromagnetic waves and Dobson’s discovery of atmospheric ozone.

Using quotes from physicist David Kaplan, in response to being asked what the value of finding the Higgs Bosun would be. Ashton examines the value of basic science more closely.

Add in the fact that the point of basic science is to know what’s unknown, and we see that the dumbest question requests the unknowable value of the unknowable consequences of an unknown thing.

The work of basic scientists like Hertz, Dobson, and Kaplan can only be driven by curiosity, not purpose. What is the value of a particular curiosity? There is no way to know in advance. Discovery is curiosity’s product; everything else, including immeasurable economic value, follows. We cannot know the worth of something we have not yet discovered. In science, as in all truly creative work, the joy is the rainbow, not the hope of gold at the rainbow’s end.