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Element 114 Verified 142

Posted by kdawson
from the cento-do-deco-quaternium dept.
ExRex writes "A team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has observed the production of superheavy element 114, confirming the results of researchers at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia. Those researchers first reported producing element 114 in 1999. Such independent verification is important, particularly given the evidence of fabricated results for other superheavy elements. If you're a subscriber to Physical Review Letters, you can download the full article."
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Element 114 Verified

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  • by tim_darklighter (822987) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @10:14PM (#29818233)
    Well, the closer we can get to finding an island of stability [wikipedia.org], the better.
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @10:31PM (#29818407) Homepage Journal

    An old Poul Anderson story, Mirkheim, used a stable superheavy element, eka-platinum, as a Maguffin.

    In the novel, the stuff was produced in a supernova. A gas giant planet was walloped by the explosion, blowing away its atmosphere leaving a creamy nougat center very dense rocky core. The heavy elements produced by the supernova were plastered across its surface.

    As I recall, the planet's discovery by the galaxy's great powers caused a political crisis and the threat of war. The stuff was highly valued. The one use I recall was a hull plating used by hydrogen-breathing races.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @11:00PM (#29818673) Homepage
    So you would think but not really. The sort of very large primes found that I linked to uses a highly specialized algorithm. It only finds primes of the form 2^n-1 which are very rare and also generally much too large to use in practical crypto. You are welcome to make your private key the product of two large Mersenne primes. The rest of us would rather use randomly selected primes of a few hundred digits.
  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @11:02PM (#29818689)

    Those "islands of stability" have been predicted long time ago. What I don't understand is why those researchers do not try to make those elements, instead of the intermediate ones.

    Afaik making those superheavy elements is done by fusing lighter ones. Not by building them up brick-by-brick (or proton/neutron by proton/neutron). So I wonder why not just go for the ones that are predicted to be more stable? Is there something we need to know from slightly-less-heavy elements that we can't predict before making those more stable ones?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @11:35PM (#29818993)

    I was pleased to read that Heino Nitsche is one of the project's lead researchers. His general chemistry course at Berkeley was very informative and enjoyable (and not just because he has a German accent and glorious mad scientist mustache [lbl.gov]); I've yet to meet someone who can get that excited about chemistry at 9 a.m. :)

    I still remember a story he told us during the unit on radioactivity and nuclear decay. One of his cats, sick with cancer, was treated with radioactive I-131. After the cat "cooled off" at the vet hospital, Heino took him home, nursed him back to health, and, like a true scientist, measured the cat's radioactivity every morning with a Geiger counter. Sure enough, the measured decay curve strongly matched the predicted one. The cat lived for several more years, too.

    If you want a brief overview of the history of heavy element synthesis, especially as it pertains to Berkeley, check out his lecture (47) on the subject [berkeley.edu].

  • 126 is Kryptonite (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sanman2 (928866) on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @12:29AM (#29819391)
    Let's wait until they discover element 126, formally known as Unbihexium, but labeled by Action Comics as the atomic number for Kryptonite.
  • Re:Elements Song (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 21, 2009 @09:24AM (#29822425)

    Well, that's why he added the last two lines.

    "These are the only ones of which the news has come to Haaverd.
    And there may be many others but they haven't been discaaverd."

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