Feeds

Boffins brew up new element

Say hi to 118, aka ununoctium

High performance access to file storage

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... ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.