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Joseph Kaminski

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October 22, 2017

Four new elements added to Periodic table


The world of science starts on an incredible platform this year after four new elements were added to the Periodic table. These four new elements, finally completing the table’s seventh row, are the first to be added since 2011, when elements 114 (Flerovium) and 116 (Livermorium) were added.

The elements, given the numbers 113, 115, 117, and 118, were discovered and presented by scientists in Japan, Russia, and America. They are not found in nature. Identified on December 30th, 2015 by the US-based International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (the international organization that claims official sovereignty over chemistry’s nomenclature), these four new elements were officially added to the Periodic table at the beginning of this year.

Now that the world’s science textbooks have been instantly rendered out of date with the labeling of these four elements, the Periodic table has completed its seventh row after decades of scientific research. But what exactly are these four new elements with placeholder names, and what could their names be? After all, we’ll be seeing them in every chemistry book to be printed in the future!

Periodic Table of Elements

Ununtrium (113)

The element with the atomic number 113, with the placeholder name of Ununtrium, is the first element on the Periodic table to be credited and named in Asia. It is a synthetic element, an element that can be created in a laboratory setting but is unable to be found in nature, and is extremely radioactive. Its most stable isotope, by the name of ununtrium-286, only has a half-life of around twenty seconds.

The element was first reported to have been created in 2003 in Russia and in 2004 by a team of Japanese scientists at RIKEN, a rather large research institution. However, the element has gone unrecognized until December 2015 when the International Union of Pure Applied Chemistry (known as IUPAC) and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) assigned the priority of the discovery to RIKEN’s scientific staff, led by Kosuke Morita. Kosuke Morita has commented on saying he will be leading his group in an attempt to discover “elements 119 and beyond” in the near future.

Ununtrium currently holds the record as being the lightest element that has not yet received an official name. So, what could the name possibly be when scientists get around to it?

Possible names for element 113

Japonium

As element 113 is the first element to be named in Japan:, RIKEN has proposed naming it after the country it hails as home in tribute of the occasion.

Rikenium

As the scientific research institution RIKEN allowed the funding and the staff to discover it, the proposed name Rikenium pays tribute to the institution itself.

Nishinanium 

In tribute to Yoshio Nishina, a famous Japanese physicist.

Ununpentium (115)

The element with the atomic number 115, with the placeholder name of Ununpentium, is a superheavy and incredibly radioactive element. It is a synthetic element, an element that can be created in a laboratory setting but is unable to be found in nature. Its most stable isotope, by the name of ununpentium-289, has a half-life of only 220 milliseconds.

Element 115 was first created in 2003 by a team of Russian scientisits at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and American scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In December 2015, it was recognized as a new element and was added shortly after the beginning of 2016. Only about one hundred atoms of this new element have been observed to date, skewing scientific data, but proving that it sways somewhere between mass numbers of 287 and 290.

So, while Ununpentium is its placeholder name, what could its scientific name be?

Possible names for element 115

Langevinium

In tribute to Paul Langevin, a French physicist who developed his own form of dynamics.

Moscovium

The Dubna team of researches has mentioned the name Moscovium several times as a possible proposal, after the Moscow Oblast where Dubna is located.

Ununseptium (117)

The element with the atomic number 117, with the placeholder name of Ununseptium, is the second heaviest known element. It is a synthetic element, an element that can be created in a laboratory setting but is unable to be found in nature. As of January 2016, only fifteen ununseptium atoms have been observed. Six in 2010, seven in 2012, and only two in 2014. This skews scientific factual data and makes Ununspetium perhaps the rarest of the elements provided.

The discovery of ununseptium was announced in Dubna, Russia, by a Russian–American collaboration in 2010, which makes it the most recently discovered element as of 2016. “Ununseptium” is a temporary systematic element name formed from Latin roots “one”, “one”, and “seven”; it is intended to be used until a permanent one is assigned.

So, what could element 117 be called?

Believe it or not, no names have been mentioned yet, making this element’s future as unheard of as its past. An alternative name for the element with atomic number 117 is eka-astatine ‎(which means uncountable), but it (like ununseptium) is merely a placeholder in terms of nomenclature.

Ununoctium (118)

The element with the atomic number 118, with the placeholder name of Ununoctium, is the latest Noble Gas element. It is a synthetic element, the only one within the Noble Gasses. It has the highest element number of the (now) current Period table. The first decay of atoms of ununoctium was observed at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) by Yuri Oganessian and his group in Dubna, Russia, in 2002. It has been in question until December 2015, when it was finally recognized. The element, however, has been heard of and under review since before the 1960s.

So, what could this unnamed Nobel gas be called?

Possible names for element 118

Flyorium

In tribute to Georgy Flyorov, the founder of the research laboratory in Dubna.

Moskovium

The Dubna team of researches has mentioned the name Moscovium several times as a possible proposal, after the Moscow Oblast where Dubna is located.

The elements, which currently bear their placeholder names, will be officially named by the teams that discovered them, respectively, in the coming months. Still, science has managed to start off 2016 with an incredible introduction of four elements, the first to be added on the Periodic table since two were added in 2011.

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