The newcomers are elements 114
, and they’ve just passed a three-year deliberation by the Joint Working Party on Discovery of Elements, a team of chemists and other scientists who sort through the evidence behind claims of newly discovered elements. These two don’t have official names yet, and for now they are going by the placeholders ununquadium and ununhexium
, which refer to the number of protons in their nuclei.
The Future Holds:
-Gone are the days when discovering an element meant refining loads of ore, seeing what cool new properties it might have, and going forth and creating glow-in-the-dark watch hands. These elements exist for less than a second before decomposing into lighter elements, and for that reason scientists know very little about what they are like.
-But their discovery means that we are getting closer to a place physicists call the “ island of stability,” a kind of legendary paradise in the periodic table where elements suddenly become stable again. Nuclear physicists suspect this might happen once we reach 120 or 126. And who knows what properties those wonder materials will have? Only further work will get us closer to knowing.
The new elements’ discoverers will get to pick permanent names for 114 and 116. And they can be just about anything the researchers want—”as long as it’s not something really weird,” says the Joint Working Party head