The late December announcement of FOUR new chemical elements was music to the ears of chemists and many other scientific disciplines across the globe. Introducing: Ununtrium, Ununpentium, Ununseptium, and Ununoctium. Or in lay terms: Element 113, 115, 117, and 118. (Don’t worry – rock music IS involved)
On December 30, 2015 officials from the International Union of Pure and Applies Chemistry (IUPAC) gave the formal declaration of the four new super-heavy metals metals.
IUPAC credited the Russian Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory for elements for 115, 117, 118 and Japan’s RIKEN lab for 113.
All of the new elements are lab-made, synthetically created by slamming two nuclei together in particle accelerators…over and over again. Moreover, any new substance last fractions of a second. So how do scientists know they have something new?
Dawn Shaughnessy, whose lab worked to create the new heavy metals, described the process in her interview with Wired:
For example, to create element 117, Shaughnessy’s colleagues smashed calcium (atomic number 20) into berkelenium (atomic number 97). “If you add that up you get 117,” she says. “We really are just fusing the protons together to make the new element.
These final four elements complete the seventh period of the Periodic Table of Elements. At long last, Flerovium and Livermorium have neighbors. Still, the filling of the seventh period does not preclude the discovery of more super-heavy metals in the future.
Now that these elements’ existence are confirmed, the debate for appropriate names and chemical symbols begin. Rules have been set by IUPAC for acceptable names: a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or a scientist
As such, fans of heavy metal rock band Motörhead – including long time fan and university physics professor Ken Dunrose – have started an online petition to have one of the new heavy metal elements names after late band frontman Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister. The proposed name: Lemmium.
At the time of this article’s writing the petition, started by Ken Wright, had 122,386 supporters. Make it 122,387 – I just signed. Rock on, readers.