Feeds

Boffins brew up new element

Say hi to 118, aka ununoctium

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Russian and American scientists yesterday announced they'd "discovered" a new superheavy element - 118, aka ununoctium.

According to Reuters, teams at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, "bombarded californium with calcium ions" to create the element which has "only existed in three different atoms lasting a fraction of a second over months of experiments".

The boffins explained they found the first 118 atom in 2002, followed by another two in 2005. The atoms lived for a fleeting 0.9 milliseconds.

Livermore team member Nancy Stoyer pre-empted the inevitable "what's the point?" question with: "I think of this like any other journey to a new place. Why do you want to go to the moon? Why do you want to go to the top of Mount Everest? Finding it is something new, it is something interesting.

"Finding it experimentally helps the theorists understand what really works for their theory and gives us more things to look for."

The last naturally-occuring element (Rhenium, atomic number 75) was added to the periodic table in 1925. Since 1937, and the discovery of the first synthetic element Technetium (atomic number 43), the world has enjoyed a continual expansion of the family of elements. Notable new members have included Plutonium (atomic number 94, debut in 1941), hydrogen bomb test byproduct Einsteinium (atomic number 99, 1952) and the previous holder of the newest element title, Ununpentium (atomic number 115, 2004).

The discovery of ununoctium follows a 2002 claim to have pinpointed it from a team Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, which later proved to be false. The Livermore-Dubna coalition took no chances, as Livermore lead boffin Ken Moody explained: "We selected a completely different nuclear reaction, performed with completely different people in a different laboratory. Everything we do is checked and double checked.

"The data analysis is performed by both us and our Russian colleagues. We do everything that we can possibily do to both avoid the possibility of intentional fraud and of mistaken handling of the data."

The scientists say they're now trying to sniff out element 120. When they find it, we sincerely hope they'll go back to the old school practice of giving it a proper name: Regonium springs to mind... ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Asteroid's SHOCK DINO MURDER SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.