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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Check cha check check check a check it out!


Hooray! image

There is official scientific proof for a new element - with an atomic number of 112. It was theorised to have existed back in 1996, but yesterday evening, scientists in Germany declared that they have sufficient evidence and studies to prove the existence of this element, known now as ununbium until it can be named("ununbi" is derived from the figures "one one two" in latin). What's the big deal? Well, Element 112 has finally been officially recognised by IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry- the ruling kings of all chemical knowledge) and will soon be placed on the Periodic Table of Elements. That is a BIG deal - like finding a new planet (or losing one...RIP Pluto...*sniff*). When IUPAC declares something to be so...it just IS.

Element 112 is a man made element, made by firing streams of charged zinc ions at lead atoms. Nuclei of the two elements fuse to form the nucleus of the new element. It is not very stable and can only exist for a very short period of time (we're talking less than a second here) but it's as real as my skull and it does exist.
This element is 227 times the atomic weight of hydrogen, making it the heaviest addition to the periodic table. The team who discovered it was led by Sigurd Hofmann at the Centre for Heavy Ion Research - they get to propose a name for it before it can be formally added to the table. On my periodic table, sitting here on my wall next to my desk (which I got for my birthday many years ago...ahem) there is a spot for it saying "unnamed discovery". Well...looks like I may now have to pitch in and buy myself a new one :)

The advanced technology used to make element 112 is of real practical interest-accelerators at ANSTO used for the detection of signatures of nuclear activities were used. Accelerators are used as dating tools for geology and environmental sciences.

SCIENCE!!

1 comments:

diddums said...

How creative -- do scientists get up in the morning saying "I'm going to make a new element today?" I don't think I would recognize a new element if it landed on my desk right this mo...KABLOOM!