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Long-lived Super Heavy Element Created 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the adamantium-anyone dept.
treeves writes "Radioactive nuclei that hang around for a mere half-minute before falling apart hardly seem stable. Yet compared with the fleeting lifetimes of their superheavy atomic neighbors, the roughly 30-second period that transpired from creation to disintegration of four atoms of a newly discovered isotope of element 108 qualifies those atoms as rock solid. Theoretical physicists predicted years ago that some nuclei of elements much more massive than uranium should survive for a relatively long time — possibly long enough to probe their chemical properties — if they could be synthesized. On the chart of nuclides, theoreticians pinpointed a region with coordinates corresponding to 114 protons and 184 neutrons and indicated that nuclei with those "magic" numbers of subatomic particles should lie at the center of an island of stability. The nuclear longevity, according to the models, is due to the closing of proton and neutron shells, which renders the particles stable against spontaneous fission much the same way that a filled outer electron shell endows noble gases with chemical inertness. Experimentalists, though, haven't yet found a route to reach the center of the island."
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Long-Lived Super Heavy Element Created

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  • let's cover the next warzone with depleted Hassium !
    • ...which is all too fitting, when you consider that "Hass" is the German word for hate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RobertB-DC (622190) *
      let's cover the next warzone with depleted Hassium !

      Sounds great, except that in the 30 seconds or so it took you to look at your battleground map, you'll have half as much Hassium as you started with...
  • Rest of article (Score:5, Informative)

    by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:13AM (#17385300) Homepage Journal
    Might as well include the rest of the article too:

    Other theoreticians calculated the effects of subshell closings in other superheavy nuclei. They concluded that an isotope of hassium containing 108 protons and 162 neutrons (270Hs) should survive a long time--much longer than the millisecond or shorter lifetimes typical of most of the heaviest nuclides.

    Now, an international team of experimentalists has detected four of those atoms and probed some of their chemical properties during the roughly 30 seconds the nuclei survive (Phys. Rev. Lett. 2006, 97, 242501). The findings confirm the predictions and provide new statistical data with which such theoretical models can be refined. The team includes 24 scientists from 10 research institutions, including the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Institute for Heavy-Ion Research (GSI), both in Germany, as well as institutions in Russia, the U.S., Switzerland, Japan, China, and Poland.

    As TUM graduate student Jan Dvorak explains, the hassium nuclei were formed by firing a high-energy beam of 26Mg projectiles into a target enriched in 248Cm. The target was also doped with a small amount of gadolinium to produce isotopes of hassium's lighter homolog, osmium. Upon formation, nuclear products were exposed to a stream of oxygen. From earlier studies of 269Hs, scientists learned that hassium and osmium--but not other heavy elements--form volatile tetroxides, thereby providing a method for filtering unwanted products.

    In the latest experiments, the volatile oxides were swept into a multistage chromatographic detector, which was cooled along its length in a gradient from room temperature at one end to -150 C. On the basis of the two sets of experiments, 269Hs and 270Hs exhibit distinct nuclear properties but similar chemical properties, as expected.

    The study paints a very consistent picture of that region of the chart of the nuclides and makes clever use of chemistry to sort out an assignment of atomic number, says Kenton J. Moody, a heavy-element research group leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Moody adds that the observations support theoretical calculations that scientists have been using to predict transactinide properties and plan superheavy element experiments.
    • by MaGogue (859961) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @05:10AM (#17385478)

      Now, an international team of experimentalists has detected four of those atoms ... The team includes 24 scientists from 10 research institutions..


      Back when I was in high school, we'd have to share PC computers at 'computer science' classes, but 1 atom per six researchers.. er, couldn't we increase funding, or something?
  • oh man.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by WillDraven (760005) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:14AM (#17385304) Homepage
    Posted by samzenpus on Thursday December 28, @03:07AM

    It is the entirely wrong time of day to try to comprehend this one.

    • by aussie_a (778472)
      And yet not too early to post on slashdot. That says a lot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Walt Dismal (534799)
      We of the planet Snogron do not find this funny. We based our entire civilization upon the use of these atomic variants, and up until the day a high schooler found out how to spontaneously detonate them using a tuning fork and a QonyPilgstation3, we were doing all right. But now the survivors of our fractured planet have spread across the universe to warn others. Do not meddle where the Almighty Spaghetti Monster cautions you not to tread! Physics is not for the foolhardy, the unwise, or people who live in
    • by 8ball629 (963244)
      I don't know if I'll comprehend this one at any time of day.
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:17AM (#17385316) Homepage
    Theoretical physicists predicted years ago that some nuclei of elements much more massive than uranium should survive for a relatively long time -- possibly long enough to probe their chemical properties -- if they could be synthesized

    In the year 3000, all they'd have to do is follow Nibbler around with a pooper scooper.
    • In the year 3000, all they'd have to do is follow Nibbler around with a pooper scooper.

      Matter so heavy that each pound of which weights 1000 pounds!
  • by iMySti (863056) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:19AM (#17385326)
    Now is your chance to get the super amazing "30 Seconds to Massive Biceps" weight training program, with new enhanced dumbbells! No refunds after product has stabilized.
  • and i thought the professor was a cartoon character!!
  • the hassium nuclei were formed by firing a high-energy beam of 26Mg projectiles into a target enriched in 248Cm.

    That sounds kinda like an atomic bomb, why doesn't this stuff explode ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TapeCutter (624760)
      "That sounds kinda like an atomic bomb, why doesn't this stuff explode ?"

      It is like an A bomb and it does explode, however the mechanisim is much bigger and the explosions are much smaller. You could also think of the energy released by the decay of the hassium nuclei as a contiuation of the explosion in the same way that Uranium stores some engery from the supernova that created it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:48AM (#17385420)
    Hey, I'm alive! Wow! This is fun! I've got 114 protons... ...and 184 neutrons! I'm surrounded by high-energy beams,
    scientists, and a homolog. Uh, oh! Am I a volatile oxide?!
    No, way! I'm being swept in to a multistage chromatographic
    detector, which is cooled along its length in a gradient
    from room temperature at one end to -150 degrees Centigrade
    (at the other end). But I've done nothing wrong!!!
    Sure, I've got similar nuclear properties to Hs-269, but
    you've got the wrong isotope! Whoa, I'm feeling weird...
    Kind of, uh, uhn, un-s-s-stable... I'm definitely --
    KA-BOOOM!!!

    THE END...?

    (Coming up next: The somewhat longer, happier life of Gadolinium,
    or Osmium -- I'm not sure, because I know nothing about this
    part of the periodic table or nuclear physics!!! LOL!!!)

  • by TravisW (594642) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @05:08AM (#17385474)
    Maybe this should have been: "...Island of Stability [wikipedia.org]..." If you're visually inclined, check out the aptly illustrated "chart of nuclides [wikipedia.org]," showing stability as a function of nucleon counts (i.e. proton and neutron counts).
    • This is the first real experiment that shows elements in the Island of Stability could be long-lived enough to be useful. A half-life of 30 seconds may sound short, but compared to the nanoseconds of heavy elements outside the island it's an eternity.
      • So, regarding the unbihexium I found linked to that wikipedia article
        ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unbihexium [wikipedia.org] )

        Could this be used in Quantum Computing? Let's think for a moment, here. One of the problems with quantum computing is degeneracy/decoherence. But this thing is extremely stable. Given that it has a lot of electronic orbitals, I would imagine that its magnetic spin state would be particularly stable. Magnetic spin states tend to work by majority, so if you have a lot of electrons then that's a
    • by Blighten (992637)
      For those of you who aren't theoretical physicists/chemists, another visualization for this Island of Stability is shown in a spiral periodic table [thinkquest.org]. The predicted region of heavy elements that might be stable are labeled superlactindes and come off as a third arm.
      • The predicted region of heavy elements that might be stable are labeled superlactindes and come off as a third arm.
        The predicted region of stability is centred on element 114 (sometimes known as Eka-lead), which is on the opposide side of the diagram to the superactinde branch.
        • by Blighten (992637)

          The predicted region of stability is centred on element 114 (sometimes known as Eka-lead), which is on the opposide side of the diagram to the superactinde branch.

          True. However 114 isn't really stable... the superactinde branch is supposed to represent heavy elements that are predicted to be stable on the order of years, or the red peak of the island (even if it looks like the two diagram don't align up right). Good observation though, and honestly I'm not 100% confident about this topic; I only have a BS in chem.

          • True. However 114 isn't really stable... the superactinde branch is supposed to represent heavy elements that are predicted to be stable on the order of years, or the red peak of the island (even if it looks like the two diagram don't align up right). Good observation though, and honestly I'm not 100% confident about this topic; I only have a BS in chem.

            Have you got any references? Most stuff I've seen seems to consider ununquadium-298 (Z=114, N=184) the most likey candidate for stability. See, for example, this pbs segment [pbs.org], or this [nature.com]. Though I know 126 is considered to be a magic number so Z=126, N=184 should also be very stable.

            • by Blighten (992637)

              Have you got any references?
              Just the obscure recollection of something mentioned in lecture a few years ago... however, these 'predictions' are all a bit wary...as they have yet to be tested.... 114 seems to be a step in the right direction. I'll crack open my school books/papers/notes sometime and if I find anything, I'll be sure to forward it to you.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dunelin (111356)

      Speaking of another Nova, a recent episode of Nova ScienceNOW on PBS featured Element-114. It was a great feature and even kept my high school chemistry classes in rapt attention for 15 minutes. Quite an accomplishment.

      Watch the segment online [pbs.org].

    • Ununbium, ununseptium, ununennium ... are they ever going to get it right? It's U-N-O-B-T-A-I-N-I-U-M.
      • by musterion (305824)
        This material is used by the Penske Racing Team (IRL) to keep his cars hyper-competitive.
    • This one looked interesting:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unbihexium [wikipedia.org]

      So this ultra-heavy ultra-stable element corresponds to Element 126 on the periodic table, which was named as Kryptonite by Action Comics. Heh, cool bit of trivia. I wonder if this is just a coincidence, or if the Action Comics writer(s) knew about the Island of Stability (Fortress of Solitude?) ;P
  • by S3D (745318) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @06:37AM (#17385768)
    So, how soon can we get Elerium-115 [wikipedia.org] and start building UFO Defence ?
  • This reminds me of the book 'Nova' by Samuel R. Delany. The 'science portion of the book involves super-heavy elements that are stable created in a Nova, but very rare, used for interstellar engine fuel. Neat http://www.amazon.com/Nova-Samuel-R-Delany/dp/0375 706704/sr=1-1/qid=1167302216/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-9763 297-9839833?ie=UTF8&s=books [amazon.com]
    • by Evil Pete (73279)

      This was also used in a Poul Anderson story in the Polesotechnic League series. About a new civilisation that appears on the scene selling island of stability elements that no-one else can manufacture in quantity. Turns out they are an average culture that found a surviving planetary core around an old supernova. Don't remember the name of the story or date though so I don't know if it predates Nova.

      • by VAXcat (674775)
        The Poul Anderson book was "Satan's World". Like any of his books that feature the Solar Spice & Liquors Trader Team (David Falkayn, Adzel, and Chee Lan), it was quite excellent...
    • by Megane (129182)

      The problem, as I understand it from following the news of the quest for heavy elements, is that these are very likely to not be created in a nova or supernova because of the incredibly tricky order of nuclear reactions required. The short half-lives of the intermediate elements are such that there is no time to build them up to the required size. If it decays faster than the arrival of more stuff, you'll never get there.

      The only chance is that you've got an entire stellar mass worth of stuff to work wit

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cheesybagel (670288)

        Actually, there are small amounts of natural Plutonium [wikipedia.org], due to supernova explosions or natural fission [wikipedia.org] reactors.

        I guess the problem is it is pretty hard to find new elements if you do not actually know what you are searching for. Natural Plutonium was only discovered after man-made Plutonium was made in large quantities and well characterized. Heck, Aluminium was only manufactured in quantity in the XIXth century.

        • by E++99 (880734)
          Heck, Aluminium was only manufactured in quantity in the XIXth century.

          Dude, roman numerals?
  • Soon... (Score:2, Funny)

    by October_30th (531777)
    Soon we'll be able to build an anti-gravity machine like that in all the alien flying machines! Bring on the Element 115 [wikipedia.org].
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Slashcrap (869349)
      Soon we'll be able to build an anti-gravity machine like that in all the alien flying machines! Bring on the Element 115.

      Yeah, yeah, everyone thinks these super-heavy elements are going to have incredible properties (based on pretty much no scientific evidence). I think it's going to be awesome when they're finally synthesised and tested and the announcement reads, "We found they were all pretty much like lead, except a bit heavier. Oh, and they generate anti-gravity. No, only joking about the anti-gravity.
  • The nuclear longevity, according to the models, is due to the closing of proton and neutron shells, which renders the particles stable against spontaneous fission
    Wow, models doing science... cute!
    Reminds me of Britney's Guide to Semiconductor Physics [britneyspears.ac].
  • Great (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @08:35AM (#17386242)
    Yet another new element to poison Russian spies with...
    • by Alsee (515537)
      Eat your sushi within the next thirty seconds, before... uhhh... before it gets warm.

      -
  • by Knutsi (959723) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @08:39AM (#17386256)
    In a recent press release, a major fast-food chain announced to have successfully created Long-lived Super Heavy Elements by changing the oil in their deep fryers to a healthier variety.
  • "treeves writes"... No, actually Mitch Jacoby of Chemical and Engineering News wrote that copy. Treeves merely copied it.
  • Professor: The atom is so rare that the nucleus alone is worth more than $50,000.
    Bender: How much more?
    Professor: $100,000.
  • Naqahdah is real, they're just trying to think of a way to patent its uses so they can keep Cheyenne Mountain open!
  • by RealProgrammer (723725) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:50PM (#17389370) Homepage Journal

    I'm not a physicist, and barely remember the difference between protons and neutrons. Really. Probably it's the way they choose the names, having nothing to do with the physical properties of the elements, and not even sounding cool. I mean, Uranium, Plutonium, Titanium have cool names. Krypton -- cool name. "Carbon" is at least descriptive, deriving from the Latin for burning. I've always thought "Gold", "Iron", and "Lead" were onomatopoeic. And everyone knows that "Sodium" is Greek for "soda pop". Good names, all, and they don't sound phake and made up.

    But "Hassium"? "Bohrium"? Not cool, not descriptive. These are vanity names, like getting your name in a phony star registry, or some weak license plate, except it goes in the encyclopedia. Yes, I know there's this tradition for naming the radioactive ones after people, but that kind of thing ought to be left to the entomologists [uwyo.edu], hadn't it? I mean, what if there's a disaster, and Jonesium kills a bunch of people and gives the rest weird cancers? How will ol' Doc Jones feel about his legacy then, hmm? Better to be devoured by wasp larvae. So clearly, we need better, less risky names for these elements.

    Let's see, an element that sticks around for 30 seconds and then goes away. I believe I can come up with a few right here, even without some fancy-shmancy degree:

    It's a wonder they don't put me in charge of much here at the gas station.
    • Doc Jones wouldn't give a damn, because he knows it's not him, has nothing to do with him, and is named after either a deceased physicist, or the person who discovered it.

      If the physicist discovered it, he can name it whatever he wants. If he names it after himself, and it turns out to be some horribly carcinogenic element later, he most likely wouldn't care.

      If the physicist is already deceased, I GUARENTEE you he won't care.

      The names the etymologists ALREADY put in place to name undiscovered elements aren'
  • Experimentalists, though, haven't yet found a route to reach the center of the island."

    I'm not really sure which would be more appropriate, Mapquest or Gamefaqs, but perhaps one of those will be able to give them proper directions.
  • 'Experimentalists, though, haven't yet found a route to reach the center of the island.'

    Now we'll never save nano Gilligan!!!!

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