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Tom Lehrer CHEMISTRY element song. This one is for Stephanie!

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Comment by Debby Bruck on May 11, 2014 at 2:21am

Scientists confirm existence of elusive 117th element


After four years of painstaking research, the discovery of the periodic table's 117th element has been confirmed.

Element 117, otherwise known as ununseptium, was originally discovered back in 2010 by a group of American and Russian physicists with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR). However, it has taken years for the discovery to be replicated by another independent team, which the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) requires. Now the element, with the approval of the IUPAC, can be named and added to the periodic table, extending our understanding of transuranium elements.

The newest instance of element 117 was created by a team at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research in Germany, whose findings were published in Physical Review Letters. Like the team at the JINR, the group managed to create the element by firing Calcium isotopes at radioactive Berkelium — which is no simple task. "Making element 117 is at the absolute boundary of what is possible right now," Professor David Hinde of the Australian National University told I Fucking Love Science. As with other transuranium elements, ununseptium is highly unstable, and has a brief half life of about 80 milliseconds. However, that's still longer than expected, suggesting that there may be an "island of stability" beyond element 118 where elements have half-lives of hours, days, or even years. With the confirmation of element 117 comes, according the paper's authors,"an important step towards the observation of even more long-lived nuclei of superheavy elements located on an 'island of stability.'"

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