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New Elements

January 21, 2016

The discovery of four new short-lived elements may be bringing scientists closer to creating new heavy elements with staying power.

Transcript

Periodic_table_large Public Domain Wikipedia

Elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 have officially been added to the periodic table of the elements.

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Elementary progress. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

By smashing together nuclear particles, scientists have produced four new elements, recently verified by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. Nuclear chemist Mark Stoyer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory says that while the elements survived for only fractions of a second, there’s a theory that researchers will eventually reach what they call an “island of stability”— a set of super heavy elements that will last.

MARK STOYER (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory):

And we believe that since we’ve been able to synthesize these elements and they’ve lasted the lifetimes that they’ve lasted that we’re kind of nearing that place.

HIRSHON:

If they get there, they could be creating elements never before seen in the universe, with interesting and perhaps useful properties. In the meantime, the work is providing insight into the forces that hold large atomic nuclei together. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.