Geeky Thursdays – Elementary, my dear Watson

Geeky Thursdays – Elementary, my dear Watson

So, as you may or may not have heard, earlier this week the US-based International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the global organisation that governs chemical nomenclature, terminology and measurement confirmed the discovery of elements 113, 115, 117 and 118.  Not only does this mean that science books (any other kind of periodic table merchandise – because it’s a thing apparently) around the world are now wrong but it marks the completion of the 7th row of the periodic table so yay science!

The new table now looks a little like this;

Periodic table
photo credit: The new elements, highlighted in yellow, will likely be named this year. Julie Deshaies/Shutterstock/IFLScience

The new elements were discovered by researchers in Japan, Russia and USA and are the first to be added to the Periodic Table since 2011.

However, unlike some of the elements you may be more familiar with these four new elements do not naturally exist on Earth. They have instead been synthetically produced in the lab. They did this by smashing lighter nuclei (the middle bit of an atom) into each other to try and get them to stick together to form something new. The result was these new ‘superheavy’ elements. However, they only last for a fraction of a second before they decay into lighter atoms so the only way of seeing them is with some super fancy hi-tech equipment. And while this all sounds just a little bit like someone is making this up in order to fill in the periodic table and calm their OCD, Apparently this fraction of a second existence is long enough to confirm their existence afterall – who knew eh?

Even though the table is now effectively complete – yay well done science! –  the Japanese team led by Kosuke Morita now plans to “look to the unchartered territory of element 119 and beyond,” reported The Guardian, because that is just what scientist do.

So while the world of chemistry scrambles to update itself, we are just waiting on the official names of the new elements to be named – which may take a while if they are as bad as naming things as i am, really Mr elephant? And then this guy will again have to update every high school chemistry teacher’s favourite YouTube video…


Until next time…

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