viernes, 12 de junio de 2009
Periodic Table to Get New, Heavy Element
Scientists around the world are celebrating the latest entry to the periodic table.
It is taken more than a decade for element 112, the biggest and heaviest atom yet, to be officially recognized. Now the scientific world is eager to find out who will have the honor of having the newest element named after them.
John Kalman, a senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of Technology, Sydney, said the periodic table can now be redrawn with an extra name.
"The joint working party has now accepted the proof that this element does exist and now people have the opportunity to actually name it," said Kalman.
It has taken a decade for a scientific team based in Germany to get element 112 approved by authorities.
"They first detected this element in the late 1990s and it's only now that sufficient evidence has been accumulated by repeating experiments and so on, and doing new experiments, that it's become totally convincing," he said.
The new element muscles in at 227 times the atomic weight of hydrogen, making it the heaviest addition to the periodic table. Michael Hotchkis, a nuclear scientist with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) says the advanced technology used to make element 112 is of real practical interest."We use accelerators at ANSTO for the detection of signatures of nuclear activities," he said. "It's using technology which is not so far removed from the technology that's used for the discovery of these new elements."
Hotchkis suggests the discoverers delve deep for name inspiration.
"I would like to nominate the ancient Greek philosopher, Empepedocles," he said. "He suggested fire, water, Earth, and air. It was the beginnings of science as we know it now and the beginnings of chemistry of understanding the constituents of matter.
"In the last few years, with the discovery of 10 or 12 elements since the 1940s, the people and places have already been acknowledged; for example, Einsteinian, Californian, Darmstadtium, so maybe we could look further back to ancient Greece."
Scientists will have to wait until the end of the year to find out who has been bestowed the honor of ending up on the wall chart of every science classroom.
And as the song ("The Elements") goes, who knows when more elements will be uncovered?: "These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard; and there may be many others, but they haven't been discovered."