The Wednesday Post (7/4/10)


As others have pointed out before (thanks Uwe) we don’t always write about biology and infectious disease. Sometimes we choose not too, right now we are choosing not too.

A cyclotron in Russia has created a new element!!! The element, named Ununseptium (for now), has an atomic number (z) of 117. This mean that the nucleus of the atoms contained 117 protons. Whilst not the biggest element around, (Uranium at z = 92 is the largest naturally occuring and Ununoctium at z = 118 the largest artificial and overall) Ununseptium had a few other tricks up its sleeve. The general rule of thumb is that as the nucleus gets bigger the atom becomes more unstable and decays. This was also true for the artificial elements with atomic numbers >92, with some only existing for fractions of seconds. However, Ununseptium was more stable than anyone expected and suggests that the instability observed in weighty atoms may simply be an island between very high and low weight stable atoms.

Some physicists predict that once we reach z = 126 we will have stable atoms again. This means we could potentially create matter with new properties and applications.

But more importantly we get to fill in a square on the peroidic table! In her own words, Dawn Shaughnessy from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a member of the team who created Ununseptium said “For a chemist, it’s so fundamentally cool”.

Dawn, its cool for biologists too.

Read more at the New York Times


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5 responses to “The Wednesday Post (7/4/10)

  1. Wow, that IS cool! They so need a better name though. I’m guessing ununseptium is just latin (or semi latin) for 117. Boring name. Let’s call it Highstabilium. Or Pete.

    • Ununseptium is just latin’ish for 1.1.7
      Its a placeholder name till they find something else to call it. It will probably end up being named after the place that found it like Berkelium was named after the University of California, Berkeley.

      • Still boring. Einsteinium was a good name, we need more of those. On that New York Times site they say “Naming elements is a serious question, in fact,” said Yuri Oganessian, a nuclear physicist at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, and the lead author on the paper. “This takes years.”

        YEARS! Dammit let us name it at once! Let us tie the element down with letters as the Lilliputs tied Gulliver! Cannonballium sounds fitting, ’tis heavy at the least.

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