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Long-lived Super Heavy Element Created

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the adamantium-anyone dept.

Science 110

treeves writes "Radioactive nuclei that hang around for a mere half-minute before falling apart hardly seem stable. Yet compared with the fleeting lifetimes of their superheavy atomic neighbors, the roughly 30-second period that transpired from creation to disintegration of four atoms of a newly discovered isotope of element 108 qualifies those atoms as rock solid. Theoretical physicists predicted years ago that some nuclei of elements much more massive than uranium should survive for a relatively long time — possibly long enough to probe their chemical properties — if they could be synthesized. On the chart of nuclides, theoreticians pinpointed a region with coordinates corresponding to 114 protons and 184 neutrons and indicated that nuclei with those "magic" numbers of subatomic particles should lie at the center of an island of stability. The nuclear longevity, according to the models, is due to the closing of proton and neutron shells, which renders the particles stable against spontaneous fission much the same way that a filled outer electron shell endows noble gases with chemical inertness. Experimentalists, though, haven't yet found a route to reach the center of the island."

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110 comments

sweet! (1)

drDugan (219551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385296)

let's cover the next warzone with depleted Hassium !

Re:sweet! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386152)

...which is all too fitting, when you consider that "Hass" is the German word for hate.

Re:sweet! (1)

ShaneThePain (929627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17392496)

hasst.
Close though.
War is not usually about hatred, it shouldn't be. War is doing what has to be done.

Re:sweet! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17396594)

"hasst" is the verb, conjugated to the second or third person singular, or the second person plural ("hassen" being the nominative). "Hass" is the noun.

Trust a native speaker.

Re:sweet! (2, Funny)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17388200)

let's cover the next warzone with depleted Hassium !

Sounds great, except that in the 30 seconds or so it took you to look at your battleground map, you'll have half as much Hassium as you started with...

Re:sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389530)

Why does the word 'Hassium' bring an image of David Hasselhoff to me ?

Rest of article (4, Informative)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385300)

Might as well include the rest of the article too:

Other theoreticians calculated the effects of subshell closings in other superheavy nuclei. They concluded that an isotope of hassium containing 108 protons and 162 neutrons (270Hs) should survive a long time--much longer than the millisecond or shorter lifetimes typical of most of the heaviest nuclides.

Now, an international team of experimentalists has detected four of those atoms and probed some of their chemical properties during the roughly 30 seconds the nuclei survive (Phys. Rev. Lett. 2006, 97, 242501). The findings confirm the predictions and provide new statistical data with which such theoretical models can be refined. The team includes 24 scientists from 10 research institutions, including the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Institute for Heavy-Ion Research (GSI), both in Germany, as well as institutions in Russia, the U.S., Switzerland, Japan, China, and Poland.

As TUM graduate student Jan Dvorak explains, the hassium nuclei were formed by firing a high-energy beam of 26Mg projectiles into a target enriched in 248Cm. The target was also doped with a small amount of gadolinium to produce isotopes of hassium's lighter homolog, osmium. Upon formation, nuclear products were exposed to a stream of oxygen. From earlier studies of 269Hs, scientists learned that hassium and osmium--but not other heavy elements--form volatile tetroxides, thereby providing a method for filtering unwanted products.

In the latest experiments, the volatile oxides were swept into a multistage chromatographic detector, which was cooled along its length in a gradient from room temperature at one end to -150 C. On the basis of the two sets of experiments, 269Hs and 270Hs exhibit distinct nuclear properties but similar chemical properties, as expected.

The study paints a very consistent picture of that region of the chart of the nuclides and makes clever use of chemistry to sort out an assignment of atomic number, says Kenton J. Moody, a heavy-element research group leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Moody adds that the observations support theoretical calculations that scientists have been using to predict transactinide properties and plan superheavy element experiments.

short supply (5, Funny)

MaGogue (859961) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385478)

Now, an international team of experimentalists has detected four of those atoms ... The team includes 24 scientists from 10 research institutions..


Back when I was in high school, we'd have to share PC computers at 'computer science' classes, but 1 atom per six researchers.. er, couldn't we increase funding, or something?

Re:short supply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17386024)

Be patient. Bush hasn't heard of the new nuclear findings yet.

Re:short supply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17387340)

Sorry, not even close to funny.

Re:short supply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17388490)

Don't you mean nu-kyoo-lar?

Total BS (1)

uglydog (944971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17387676)

As TUM graduate student Jan Dvorak explains...
More bs from Dvorak

Re:Total BS (1)

Live_in_Dayton (805960) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390210)

I thought that joke was very funny. I guess the moderator didn't.

oh man.... (4, Funny)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385304)

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday December 28, @03:07AM

It is the entirely wrong time of day to try to comprehend this one.

Re:oh man.... (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385532)

And yet not too early to post on slashdot. That says a lot.

Re:oh man.... (2, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385704)

We of the planet Snogron do not find this funny. We based our entire civilization upon the use of these atomic variants, and up until the day a high schooler found out how to spontaneously detonate them using a tuning fork and a QonyPilgstation3, we were doing all right. But now the survivors of our fractured planet have spread across the universe to warn others. Do not meddle where the Almighty Spaghetti Monster cautions you not to tread! Physics is not for the foolhardy, the unwise, or people who live in Crawford, Texas! Or all three.

Re:oh man.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17385734)

Don't quit your dayjob just yet.

Re:oh man.... (1)

8ball629 (963244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17388946)

I don't know if I'll comprehend this one at any time of day.

just wait 1000 years. (4, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385316)

Theoretical physicists predicted years ago that some nuclei of elements much more massive than uranium should survive for a relatively long time -- possibly long enough to probe their chemical properties -- if they could be synthesized

In the year 3000, all they'd have to do is follow Nibbler around with a pooper scooper.

Re:just wait 1000 years. (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 7 years ago | (#17391064)

In the year 3000, all they'd have to do is follow Nibbler around with a pooper scooper.

Matter so heavy that each pound of which weights 1000 pounds!

Commercial uses? (4, Funny)

iMySti (863056) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385326)

Now is your chance to get the super amazing "30 Seconds to Massive Biceps" weight training program, with new enhanced dumbbells! No refunds after product has stabilized.

futurama (1)

zakeria (1031430) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385328)

and i thought the professor was a cartoon character!!

Re:futurama (2, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17387894)

and i thought the professor was a cartoon character!!

Nope, he was a real live person:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philo_Farnsworth [wikipedia.org]

And he did invent something called the Fusor [wikipedia.org]

Although, Futurama did pay homage to him with the Professor character.

Heavy (-1, Redundant)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385366)

All those superheavy elements don't exist in natural form for a reason: they are incredibly unstable and their time of life is at max some milliseconds and their central nucleus will split into two or more smaller bits, creating "normal" elements instantly. This will occur freeing a lot of energy, so thei teorethcally could be used as a source of energy . The problem is that you need more energy to create those element than the energy you get from them...so forget it. Other uses can be found, but non only in small scale.

Re:Heavy (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385402)

I'm not sure what the threshhold of detection is. But I imagine anything with a half-life under a few million years can't be detected in nature unless it's in a decay product chain of something considerably more stable.

Re:Heavy (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385660)

I imagine anything with a half-life under a few million years can't be detected in nature unless it's in a decay product chain of something considerably more stable.
They could also be built up from lighter elements by fusion. Sigh. If only fusion would occur naturally. That would be just dreamy!

Re:Heavy (3, Interesting)

tom17 (659054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385686)

OK, I am missing something here...

For starters, I accept that they can do this but...

1. I thought Hydrogen (and deuterium) were the easiest atoms to fuse together (Call it a naive assumption if you like).
2. I also thought that these were incredibly hard to fuse together.
3. I also thought that even in a star, there is only enough energy to fuse atoms together up to Iron.
4. I also thought that you only get the energy needed to fuse atoms to form elements higher than Iron in a Supernova.
5. So I figured we'd not be able to harness the kinds of energy needed to fuse atoms this big.
6. I have just been watching Steven Hawkins series about all this shit over the xmas break :)
7. I did have rudimentary knowledge of all this stuff before watchign those shows.

So obviously we can create this kind of energy. I must have been confusing "not being able to fuse atoms together" with "not being able to fuse atoms together in an energy efficient manner" - i.e. the reason we dont get more out than in with our fusion energy attemts.

So if we can fuse hige Super Heavy atoms together, why can't we fuse lesser atoms together to make, say, gold?

I obviously have a flaw somewhere in my assumptions, if it's a simple one-liner, please tell me. Otherwise I will just go research it all again and find where I went wrong :)

Thanks for your time.

Tom...

Re:Heavy (4, Informative)

CookieOfFortune (955407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385744)

3. The star gets energy out of fusion up to Iron, after that, it loses energy through fusion though it can still occur, creating the heavier elements. I believe they can determine how much longer a star will survive by measuring the iron content, because once it starts producing a lot of iron, it's running out of hydrogen and helium which act as the most efficient fuel. From the article:

the hassium nuclei were formed by firing a high-energy beam of 26Mg projectiles into a target enriched in 248Cm.
I don't think this is considered "fusion" per se because it does not occur spontaneously like in a reactor and probably uses up a lot of energy. I don't think this in itself is a new technique, as that's how they created some of the other heavy elements.

Re:Heavy (4, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385788)

So if we can fuse hige Super Heavy atoms together, why can't we fuse lesser atoms together to make, say, gold?

We can. In fact, it was one of the first things we did with our new toys It's a fun game.

It's also very, very expensive.

KFG.

P.S. (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385834)

Don't ask what that physicist was doing sneaking into the collidor with a pig's ear in his pocket if you're sensitive about where your tax dollars go.

But the purse is lovely.

KFG

Re:Heavy (5, Informative)

UnxMully (805504) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386044)

IANAP (I am not a physicist) but I have studied some astronomy including reactions in stars.

Up to the iron group, fusion reactions are exothermic but produce increasingly less energy, so the higher the mass of the resulting element, the more reactions are needed to produce the energy required to sustain a star.

Reactions beyond the iron group are endothermic so require energy from the star to complete.

The other way elements are produced in stars is the addition of neutrons to already existing atoms, hence increasing their atomic mass and producing a different element. IIRC, the energy required to do this is high and exists only in stars.

There are two types of this reacton, slow and fast. Slow happens in the normal course of events of star evolution where fast happens in the seconds of life during and after a supernova. Elements such as uranium are produced during the fast process. From this, I think these guys have replicated one of the slow/fast addition processes rather than what we tend to call fusion.

As I say, IANAP but that's what I remember.

Re:Heavy (4, Informative)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17387488)

The other way elements are produced in stars is the addition of neutrons to already existing atoms, hence increasing their atomic mass and producing a different element.
Just to clarify that point, adding neutrons to an atom does not directly produce a different element, it produces a different isotope of the same element. Neutrons can, however, be converted into protons, usually by emitting an electron and an antineutrino (I believe neutrons can also be converted to protons by absorbing a positron and a neutrino, but it doesn't happen nearly as frequently).

Re:Heavy (1)

UnxMully (805504) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389800)

Once locked into an atom, I'm pretty sure neutrons become stable - when free they have a half-life of around 630 seconds.

Re:Heavy (1)

svyyn (530783) | more than 7 years ago | (#17387616)

The other way elements are produced in stars is the addition of neutrons to already existing atoms, hence increasing their atomic mass and producing a different element.

Do you mean protons, or are you meaning to say isotopes instead of elements?

IIRC, the energy required to do this is high and exists only in stars.

Neutron absorption occurs in fusion reactors (and is the reason that fusion reactors are still radioactive). Proton absoption occurs in fusion reactors too -- H ions are simply protons when they fuse.

Re:Heavy (1)

UnxMully (805504) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389736)

Neutron absorption occurs in fusion reactors (and is the reason that fusion reactors are still radioactive). Proton absoption occurs in fusion reactors too -- H ions are simply protons when they fuse.

I take it you mean fission not fusion?

And yes, I did mean isotopes as in adding neutrons creates a different isotope. However, the level of study I covered did make it clear that the s and r processes result in the formation of different elements, not just different isotopes, but doesn't make it clear how the conversion of neutrons to protons occurs.

Re:Heavy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17388046)

IANAP (I am not a physicist)

If you need to explain what you mean with a given IANA* abbreviation, you probably shouldn't abbreviate it unless you're about to use it many times. Twice within a given posting does not count as "many."

re: your flaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17386604)

This would be the problem with all the Discovery Channel-based science: it has to be simplified to be more easily grasped and enjoyed by consumer TV audiences. Watching even Hawking's series will only give you but a brief primer into the subject which necessarily omits the more substantive basics in favour of pocket explainations for massively complex events, fusion and fission in star chemical synthesis being prime examples.

Your specific flaw in the above would be confusion in energy - there is a difference between 100 V at 1 A and 100 V at 10 A, though the electrical potential remained the same, and similarly with 1 V at 100 A and 100 V at 100 A, though current was the same. Likewise, we as a human species can create momentary bursts of temperature vastly exceeding the Sun, and momentary bursts of other energy forms (magnetic, kinetic, &c.) vastly exceeding the Sun as well. If you'll notice, the article states only 4 atoms were created, and this should give you some idea of how exactly 'momentary' our momentary bursts really are; energy efficiency is really not applicable as one quickly approaches 0.

If you're interested in this sort of business, a used high school-level chemistry text would be ah excellent tree to sniff round for the basics, which you could self-learn.

Re: your flaw (2, Interesting)

tom17 (659054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386858)

Yeah I did the school stuff and did well at it, but that was like 17 years ago now so its all started to fade a bit since I switched from science to computers around then :-(

I totally understand about the low duration bursts etc, I just think that, as you say, those shows glance over things too much and that may have just muddled things up in my head a bit this time round.

Thanks for all your responses, they have been helpful and I am back on track :) Now I need to un-learn all the stuff I explained* to my wife while we went through those shows over xmas. Its tough explainign all this stuff to someone who did not learn much about atoms and physics at school, but its a good chance to go through things in your own head again from the basics. Quite the challenge too after so long :)

*With those shows, I find myself doing about an hours of explaining for every 30 mins of show - really shows how much they assume/miss...

Re:Heavy (2, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385718)

As I understand it, fusion is necessary to have anything heavier than hydrogen. But you don't get substantial quantities of elements heavier than iron except from supernovas and perhaps some other high energy events (like what a neutron star can do). In particular, as far as we know, everything heavier than iron on Earth either came from one or more supernovas that preceded the existence of Earth or from decay products of those elements. Given the large amount of Uranium 235 and 238 in the Earth's crust, it's likely that all of the heavier elements and isotopes were created in some quantity. So my take is that there's an upper limit to the half life of these elements coming from the fact that we don't obvserve them in nature, but it's a weak limit many orders of magnitude off from what we're seeing in the labs.

Re:Heavy (3)

rrkap (634128) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385456)

The whole point of the article is that this element has a lifespan on the order of seconds, not milliseconds, which means that you can do chemistry and other fun things with them. But, really, people do this for two reasons: 1) to test the theories that predict a set of very heavy elements that are nearly stable and 2) because they can.

No explosive properties ? (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385386)

the hassium nuclei were formed by firing a high-energy beam of 26Mg projectiles into a target enriched in 248Cm.

That sounds kinda like an atomic bomb, why doesn't this stuff explode ?

Re:No explosive properties ? (2, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385446)

"That sounds kinda like an atomic bomb, why doesn't this stuff explode ?"

It is like an A bomb and it does explode, however the mechanisim is much bigger and the explosions are much smaller. You could also think of the energy released by the decay of the hassium nuclei as a contiuation of the explosion in the same way that Uranium stores some engery from the supernova that created it.

More then just theory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17385392)

Theoretical physicists predicted years ago that some nuclei of elements much more massive than uranium should survive for a relatively long time
Like those in a neutron star?

Re:More then just theory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17385400)

Not an element is it?

Re:More then just theory... (4, Informative)

calyxa (618266) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385470)

I was briefly thrilled the other day about the possibility of counting neutron stars as individual atoms of stable super-heavy elements. I asked my brother, a nuclear physicist, if this was reasonable. he said no, because the neutrons in a neutron star are held together by gravity.

Re:More then just theory... (3, Informative)

Xolotl (675282) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386624)

Not only that, elements are defined by the number of protons, not neutrons.

Re:More then just theory... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 7 years ago | (#17387824)

some periodic tables do list the neutron before the hydrogen nucleus, number of protons zero

Cite? (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17388736)

Can you give a link to one of those?

Re:Cite? (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17392976)

I haven't seen the free neutron included in a periodic table, but I have seen it included on a table of isotopes. An example can be seen on the Wikipedia page on free neutrons [wikipedia.org] .

Re:More then just theory... (1)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386722)

Neutrons in a neutron star are held together by gravity

To complete the implicit concept in your sentence: whereas to qualify as an atom, it would have to be bound by the Strong Force. Cool and poetic ideas, though, both your concept and your brother's explanation.

But as always, questions like these make the mind race and create more questions, such as:
Is it possible for quarks to pile up until there's a massive proton or neutron?
Put in another way, what is the upper mass limit, if any, for the quantum mechanism that creates and maintains the building blocks of atoms?
I'm under the impression that we can't even refer to mass or matter when talking about the quantum realm, anyway, so it all gets pretty iffy.

And just what kind of matter composes a singularity, anyhow? I think it was George Gamow who refered to it as Ylem, but what is it, raw quarks?

The short, happy life of Hassium-270... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17385420)

Hey, I'm alive! Wow! This is fun! I've got 114 protons... ...and 184 neutrons! I'm surrounded by high-energy beams,
scientists, and a homolog. Uh, oh! Am I a volatile oxide?!
No, way! I'm being swept in to a multistage chromatographic
detector, which is cooled along its length in a gradient
from room temperature at one end to -150 degrees Centigrade
(at the other end). But I've done nothing wrong!!!
Sure, I've got similar nuclear properties to Hs-269, but
you've got the wrong isotope! Whoa, I'm feeling weird...
Kind of, uh, uhn, un-s-s-stable... I'm definitely --
KA-BOOOM!!!

THE END...?

(Coming up next: The somewhat longer, happier life of Gadolinium,
or Osmium -- I'm not sure, because I know nothing about this
part of the periodic table or nuclear physics!!! LOL!!!)

Re:The short, happy life of Hassium-270... (5, Funny)

tom17 (659054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385468)

Oh no, not again

Re:The short, happy life of Hassium-270... (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17393000)

Hassium-270 has 108 protons and 162 neutrons.

Re:The short, happy life of Hassium-270... (1)

superstuntguy (907884) | more than 7 years ago | (#17393632)

Homolog? ... A gay piece of wood? ;)

Rocket Fuel? (1)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17395956)

Okay, nobody likes to think about fissionable rocket fuel, but maybe if you had a heavy element that could live even a few hours (long enough to be loaded into the rocket), then it might be worth using if its decay products are themselves short-lived and don't last long enough to threaten the environment.

Besides, a super-heavy fuel element would have higher energy storage density, and thus allow for a smaller/lighter reactor/engine. Hey, at least it's more plausible than that Hafnium isomer idea which didn't seem to pan out.

wow (1)

Swimport (1034164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385422)

an international team of experimentalists has detected four of those atoms

What kind of equipment can detect these? Seems like it would be harder to detect them than to create them

The comments on this topic should be just dazzling (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17385472)

I think that the comment section should just be turned off on some topics.

This being one of them.

Of course the retarded comments are always good for a laugh.

Saving some link-hunting (5, Informative)

TravisW (594642) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385474)

Maybe this should have been: "...Island of Stability [wikipedia.org] ..." If you're visually inclined, check out the aptly illustrated "chart of nuclides [wikipedia.org] ," showing stability as a function of nucleon counts (i.e. proton and neutron counts).

Mod parent up please (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385526)

This is the first real experiment that shows elements in the Island of Stability could be long-lived enough to be useful. A half-life of 30 seconds may sound short, but compared to the nanoseconds of heavy elements outside the island it's an eternity.

Spiral Periodic Table (3, Informative)

Blighten (992637) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385698)

For those of you who aren't theoretical physicists/chemists, another visualization for this Island of Stability is shown in a spiral periodic table [thinkquest.org] . The predicted region of heavy elements that might be stable are labeled superlactindes and come off as a third arm.

Re:Spiral Periodic Table (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17393036)

The predicted region of heavy elements that might be stable are labeled superlactindes and come off as a third arm.
The predicted region of stability is centred on element 114 (sometimes known as Eka-lead), which is on the opposide side of the diagram to the superactinde branch.

Re:Spiral Periodic Table (1)

Blighten (992637) | more than 7 years ago | (#17394750)

The predicted region of stability is centred on element 114 (sometimes known as Eka-lead), which is on the opposide side of the diagram to the superactinde branch.
True. However 114 isn't really stable... the superactinde branch is supposed to represent heavy elements that are predicted to be stable on the order of years, or the red peak of the island (even if it looks like the two diagram don't align up right). Good observation though, and honestly I'm not 100% confident about this topic; I only have a BS in chem.

Re:Spiral Periodic Table (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17396696)

True. However 114 isn't really stable... the superactinde branch is supposed to represent heavy elements that are predicted to be stable on the order of years, or the red peak of the island (even if it looks like the two diagram don't align up right). Good observation though, and honestly I'm not 100% confident about this topic; I only have a BS in chem.
Have you got any references? Most stuff I've seen seems to consider ununquadium-298 (Z=114, N=184) the most likey candidate for stability. See, for example, this pbs segment [pbs.org] , or this [nature.com] . Though I know 126 is considered to be a magic number so Z=126, N=184 should also be very stable.

Re:Saving some link-hunting (2, Informative)

dunelin (111356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386634)

Speaking of another Nova, a recent episode of Nova ScienceNOW on PBS featured Element-114. It was a great feature and even kept my high school chemistry classes in rapt attention for 15 minutes. Quite an accomplishment.

Watch the segment online [pbs.org] .

Re:Saving some link-hunting (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386864)

Ununbium, ununseptium, ununennium ... are they ever going to get it right? It's U-N-O-B-T-A-I-N-I-U-M.

Re:Saving some link-hunting (1)

musterion (305824) | more than 7 years ago | (#17387224)

This material is used by the Penske Racing Team (IRL) to keep his cars hyper-competitive.

What do they do with these new elements? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17385628)

I confess ignorance as to what they do with these new things they invent. Is the idea that they get used in manufacturing or chemistry or some military use, or to make other elements?

Re:What do they do with these new elements? (3, Informative)

As_I_Please (471684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385794)

These elements aren't useful in the commercial or industrial sense. At the moment, only a handful of atoms can be created at a time.

The creation of these elements is more useful for testing our theories of the structure of the nucleus (finding the Island of Stability [nytimes.com] ) and of the periodicity of the chemical elements (if the chemical properties of these rather unnatural elements correspond to their positions on the Periodic Table).

Re:What do they do with these new elements? (1)

et764 (837202) | more than 7 years ago | (#17388288)

I remember talking about the sea of stability in a chemistry course a few years ago. At that time I think they'd just found an element that lasted a few milliseconds, and my professor was quite excited because before that most of the elements we've synthesized lasted on the order of nanoseconds. Now that we've found something that lasts for a couple of seconds this seems to be a very big deal.

Our professor explained part of why this sea of stability would be useful. Since these atoms are so large, their electrons are pretty far away and they aren't held as tightly as in smaller atoms. This makes it easier to play with the spins and such of the electrons, so it could make things like quantum computing a lot easier.

Superconductivity? (1)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17395988)

Heh, could they be used for superconductivity or something? Wouldn't that be a kicker -- "We've just found the first room temp superconductor, but it only has a half-life of 30 seconds!"

Re:What do they do with these new elements? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385994)

I confess ignorance as to what they do with these new things they invent.

They play with them. I suspect that under the right circumstances they'd be happier with some Hot Wheels. I know I am.

KFG

Re:What do they do with these new elements? (1)

DocMAME (933222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389612)

At least most Hot Wheels last longer than 30 seconds!

Re:What do they do with these new elements? (3, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390206)

Plus you look pretty stupid pusing an atom around your desktop while making "Vroom, vroom" noises.

KFG

Re:What do they do with these new elements? (1)

jusDfaqs (997794) | more than 7 years ago | (#17392262)

Thats right chuck we have secretly replaced these theoretical nuclear physicist newly discovered stable heavy isotope dense matter particle with "Hot Wheels"(tm) cars.

Now with the cameras lets take a peek to see if they notice.......
:-P

bit3h (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17385672)

its corpse turned distributions but many find It who sell another

Elerium-115 ! (4, Funny)

S3D (745318) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385768)

So, how soon can we get Elerium-115 [wikipedia.org] and start building UFO Defence ?

Reminds me of the book... (1)

greatgreygreengreasy (706454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385772)

This reminds me of the book 'Nova' by Samuel R. Delany. The 'science portion of the book involves super-heavy elements that are stable created in a Nova, but very rare, used for interstellar engine fuel. Neat http://www.amazon.com/Nova-Samuel-R-Delany/dp/0375 706704/sr=1-1/qid=1167302216/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-9763 297-9839833?ie=UTF8&s=books [amazon.com]

Re:Reminds me of the book... (1)

Evil Pete (73279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386112)

This was also used in a Poul Anderson story in the Polesotechnic League series. About a new civilisation that appears on the scene selling island of stability elements that no-one else can manufacture in quantity. Turns out they are an average culture that found a surviving planetary core around an old supernova. Don't remember the name of the story or date though so I don't know if it predates Nova.

Re:Reminds me of the book... (1)

VAXcat (674775) | more than 7 years ago | (#17392256)

The Poul Anderson book was "Satan's World". Like any of his books that feature the Solar Spice & Liquors Trader Team (David Falkayn, Adzel, and Chee Lan), it was quite excellent...

Re:Reminds me of the book... (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386340)

The problem, as I understand it from following the news of the quest for heavy elements, is that these are very likely to not be created in a nova or supernova because of the incredibly tricky order of nuclear reactions required. The short half-lives of the intermediate elements are such that there is no time to build them up to the required size. If it decays faster than the arrival of more stuff, you'll never get there.

The only chance is that you've got an entire stellar mass worth of stuff to work with, so if it's possible at all to create them naturally, there will be quite a bit of the stuff. At that point the question becomes the half-lives of the heavy elements. Currently, uranium is the heaviest element with a sufficient half-life that it can be found naturally.

Without a half-life of millions of years, you would pretty much have to be there right after the nova explosion to find anything useful, and even with FTL travel how are you going to know about the explosion when the knowledge of the nova only travels at light speed? You would need FTL transmitters on every reachable star in the galaxy, which is a lot of effort.

Re:Reminds me of the book... (2, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17388142)

Actually, there are small amounts of natural Plutonium [wikipedia.org] , due to supernova explosions or natural fission [wikipedia.org] reactors.

I guess the problem is it is pretty hard to find new elements if you do not actually know what you are searching for. Natural Plutonium was only discovered after man-made Plutonium was made in large quantities and well characterized. Heck, Aluminium was only manufactured in quantity in the XIXth century.

Re:Reminds me of the book... (1)

E++99 (880734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17391168)

Heck, Aluminium was only manufactured in quantity in the XIXth century.

Dude, roman numerals?

Can we build a Stargate yet? (1)

ArtfulDodger75 (943980) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385796)

Very soon we'll have discovered Naquada!

Soon... (2, Funny)

October_30th (531777) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385914)

Soon we'll be able to build an anti-gravity machine like that in all the alien flying machines! Bring on the Element 115 [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Soon... (3, Funny)

Slashcrap (869349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386040)

Soon we'll be able to build an anti-gravity machine like that in all the alien flying machines! Bring on the Element 115.

Yeah, yeah, everyone thinks these super-heavy elements are going to have incredible properties (based on pretty much no scientific evidence). I think it's going to be awesome when they're finally synthesised and tested and the announcement reads, "We found they were all pretty much like lead, except a bit heavier. Oh, and they generate anti-gravity. No, only joking about the anti-gravity."

Models (1)

Cow Jones (615566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386100)

The nuclear longevity, according to the models, is due to the closing of proton and neutron shells, which renders the particles stable against spontaneous fission
Wow, models doing science... cute!
Reminds me of Britney's Guide to Semiconductor Physics [britneyspears.ac] .

Re:Models (1)

LuckyStarr (12445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389914)

This is... odd.

Great (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386242)

Yet another new element to poison Russian spies with...

The actual press release (3, Funny)

Knutsi (959723) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386256)

In a recent press release, a major fast-food chain announced to have successfully created Long-lived Super Heavy Elements by changing the oil in their deep fryers to a healthier variety.

Finally!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17386632)

A radioactive nuclei half-life that lasts longer than it takes me to reach climax.

Write your own damned write-up (0, Offtopic)

joshv (13017) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386716)

"treeves writes"... No, actually Mitch Jacoby of Chemical and Engineering News wrote that copy. Treeves merely copied it.

Re:Write your own damned write-up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17387500)

Anonymous Coward Writes:

Actually Mitch Jacoby of Chemical and Engineering News wrote that copy and Treeves merely copied it. Threeves can't even rise to the slash-dot accepted level of avoiding plagerism. MS is evil.

Oblig. Futurama (1)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17386788)

Professor: The atom is so rare that the nucleus alone is worth more than $50,000.
Bender: How much more?
Professor: $100,000.

I knew it! (1)

cmdrpaddy (955593) | more than 7 years ago | (#17387368)

Naqahdah is real, they're just trying to think of a way to patent its uses so they can keep Cheyenne Mountain open!

Good news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17389126)

Next time someone poisons a former spy we will know for sure who did it.

Better names needed (3, Funny)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 7 years ago | (#17389370)

I'm not a physicist, and barely remember the difference between protons and neutrons. Really. Probably it's the way they choose the names, having nothing to do with the physical properties of the elements, and not even sounding cool. I mean, Uranium, Plutonium, Titanium have cool names. Krypton -- cool name. "Carbon" is at least descriptive, deriving from the Latin for burning. I've always thought "Gold", "Iron", and "Lead" were onomatopoeic. And everyone knows that "Sodium" is Greek for "soda pop". Good names, all, and they don't sound phake and made up.

But "Hassium"? "Bohrium"? Not cool, not descriptive. These are vanity names, like getting your name in a phony star registry, or some weak license plate, except it goes in the encyclopedia. Yes, I know there's this tradition for naming the radioactive ones after people, but that kind of thing ought to be left to the entomologists [uwyo.edu] , hadn't it? I mean, what if there's a disaster, and Jonesium kills a bunch of people and gives the rest weird cancers? How will ol' Doc Jones feel about his legacy then, hmm? Better to be devoured by wasp larvae. So clearly, we need better, less risky names for these elements.

Let's see, an element that sticks around for 30 seconds and then goes away. I believe I can come up with a few right here, even without some fancy-shmancy degree:

It's a wonder they don't put me in charge of much here at the gas station.

Re:Better names needed (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 7 years ago | (#17390448)

Doc Jones wouldn't give a damn, because he knows it's not him, has nothing to do with him, and is named after either a deceased physicist, or the person who discovered it.

If the physicist discovered it, he can name it whatever he wants. If he names it after himself, and it turns out to be some horribly carcinogenic element later, he most likely wouldn't care.

If the physicist is already deceased, I GUARENTEE you he won't care.

The names the etymologists ALREADY put in place to name undiscovered elements aren't exactly easy to use, even in a sentance:

Uun: Ununnillium
Uuq: Ununquadium
Unl: Unnillennium
Unp: Unnilpentium
Uno: Unniloctium
Uuu: Unununium .....you get the idea.

Although this is etymologically correct in relation to the atomic number, it's far more complex in speech and practicality than naming it after a dead physicist or the discoverer.

BTW, having an element named after you is ALOT MORE OF AN HONOR than getting your name in a star registry. It's the scientific equivalent to getting your name in the Bible.

Re:Better names needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17396122)

It's the scientific equivalent to getting your name in the Bible.

The Book of Science*
1. Philosophers among men on the seven corners of the Earth did conspire to discover a distant island.
2. Jan Dvorak did summon the fraternal Hassium tetrad flanking half brothers lead away by rust.
3. Born of white fire and wind, the brothers peered forever by their kin, ever swiftly nearing eternity.
4. A temperate path revealed to unmoving cold, Hassium's descent portends of inner light.
5. And venged God did vanish the enlightened, and amended Man the several prohibitions:
6. What ho a man should tap, but not a fellow man, nor ho by another in thine house of God.
7. Nor man shall venture to the black desert in conquest unarmed in equal measures of blood and vox.
8. And lothe he who speaks truthfully of their deserved leaders' actions against the the brothers of Islam.
* (With as much probable reflection of real life events as the real Bible.)

Wait... Why was retconning the Bible a good analogy?

-M5B

Route... (1)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17392388)

Experimentalists, though, haven't yet found a route to reach the center of the island."

I'm not really sure which would be more appropriate, Mapquest or Gamefaqs, but perhaps one of those will be able to give them proper directions.

Island. (1)

Dabido (802599) | more than 7 years ago | (#17396776)

'Experimentalists, though, haven't yet found a route to reach the center of the island.'

Now we'll never save nano Gilligan!!!!
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