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Un-Un-Pentium On Your Periodic Table of the Elements? 172

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the waiting-for-unobtanium dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes, quoting Forbes "Researchers at Sweden's Lund University have announced that they've been able to confirm the existence of element 115 on the periodic table. This research team isn't the first to create element 115, which is currently known as ununpentium. The first claim that ununpentium had been synthesized in a lab was by a joint group of Russian and American researchers, who believed that they created it in their lab in 2004."
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Un-Un-Pentium On Your Periodic Table of the Elements?

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  • Jokes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:13AM (#44696225) Homepage Journal

    If you want to make a lot of stupid jokes about the Pentium chip, don't worry, they were already made 10 years ago in the other Slashdot article [slashdot.org]

  • so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:14AM (#44696233)

    what is it actually good for?

    • Re:so... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:24AM (#44696325) Homepage

      It's good for getting closer to the predicted island of stability, where stable (and usable) elements may exists.

      It's also good for satisfying human curiosity (which in itself is a worthy goal) and being a catalyst for inventing new technology that may be of practical value already.

      • by Alioth (221270)

        From what I understand, the "island of stability" in terms of super-heavy elements is a relative term - it just means the decay of elements in the island of stability is measured in maybe hundreds of milliseconds instead of a few microseconds.

        • Re:so... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @10:17AM (#44696843)

          From what I understand, the "island of stability" in terms of super-heavy elements is a relative term - it just means the decay of elements in the island of stability is measured in maybe hundreds of milliseconds instead of a few microseconds.

          they are expected to have radioactive decay half-lives of at least minutes or days as compared to seconds, with some optimists expecting half-lives of millions of years

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_of_stability

          The answer is, we don't know for sure. That's why we're trying to get there. If their half life is anything longer than a few minutes they would revolutionize chemistry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      what is it actually good for?

      What's it good for? Selling large wall maps of Periodic Tables to sci-geeks who are now pissed that theirs is as accurate as a politicians expense report.

      Oh, I'm sorry, you were looking for a valid use for some of these new Elements? Yeah, me too...

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/01/us/uut-and-uup-add-their-atomic-mass-to-periodic-table.html?src=pm [nytimes.com] hinted at
      ''It's just incredibly exciting. It seems to open up the possibility of synthesizing more elements beyond this.'' and
      ''Scientifically, just for the pure science of it, wouldn't you like to know just how many chemical elements there are?''
      As with other research we might get better nuclear weapons and something like household smoke detectors or win big with the next elements?
      • by Exitar (809068)

        What's the point of better nuclear weapons?

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Shorter half-life, smaller controlled explosions, need to stock pile fewer of them.

          • What's the point of needing to stockpile nuclear weapons?

            • by gstoddart (321705)

              What's the point of needing to stockpile nuclear weapons?

              Well, back in the day, the rationale was that with Mutually Assured Destruction, anybody would be, er, mad to set one off.

              I'm not sure anybody else believed that at the time, but that was the reason given 30 years ago or so.

              Now it seems to be mostly because we've had them so long we need to hang onto them in case someone else develops them.

              • Now it seems to be mostly because we've had them so long we need to hang onto them in case someone else develops them.

                At this point I'm actually surprised that there have been no accidental nuclear explosions. With all of the countries that have manufactured weapons, and all of the accidents, I am shocked that there has never been an accidental detonation. We've done a pretty decent job of replacing our older warheads with newer ones, but even so I'm surprised that there have been 0 accidental detonations that resulted in major loss of life. I don't understand all of the safety measures that go into a warhead and the sp

                • by gstoddart (321705)

                  At this point I'm actually surprised that there have been no accidental nuclear explosions.

                  My understanding (very loose, very old, very incomplete) is that it's actually hard to make that kind of reaction happen ... and most devices designed by anybody not planning on blowing themselves to pieces would be designed to make that difficult by keeping some of the bits separated or requiring something else to kick it off.

                  My vague understanding is that you usually use some conventional explosives to force the fis

                  • My vague understanding is that you usually use some conventional explosives to force the fissile material into a tighter ball to tip it over a threshold -- and since we'd be talking about military grade explosives, most of those are pretty inert except when you want them not to be

                    I scanned the Wikipedia article on military nuclear accidents, so I'm basically an expert on this now. There have been several bomb drops (either accidental or purposefully jettisoned because the plane was in trouble) where the high explosives did detonate. In fact, one of them actually fell on someone's house and blew it to bits, although the core never went critical. There have also been some lab experiments when the cores did reach critical mass for a short time and people in the room ended up dying.

                    I

            • by BranMan (29917)

              Huh? What a question! So you actually think anyone has time to build nuclear weapons, from scratch, when they are suddenly needed?

              Why stockpile ammunition for the armed forces? Why stockpile gasoline in your local gas station? Why stockpile food in your pantry and fridge?

              • So you actually think anyone has time to build nuclear weapons, from scratch, when they are suddenly needed?

                When is a nuclear weapon suddenly needed?

                The only time a nuclear weapon has been used in war it was in fact built from scratch.

    • Re:so... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:28AM (#44696361) Homepage

      what is it actually good for?

      Understanding the world around us? You know, sciency stuff.

      Nobody is going to make you a car out of this, but some of these 'exotic' materials they need to create in a lab can tell us some interesting things about the early universe.

      Since when do we need a specific reason to do science? You never know what you'll find out once you've done the research.

      • Re:so... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Loughla (2531696) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:36AM (#44696463)

        Since when do we need a specific reason to do science? You never know what you'll find out once you've done the research.

        Since we started implementing austerity measures.

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        It's a legitimate question. If creating it in a lab does yield some type scientific information or even just "we created something that has never existed before (that we know of)" then that's a legitimate answer. But even after that, the next question is, what else does this mean?

        You say that it can tell us interesting things about the early universe. How is that? I'm no nuclear chemist. How does creating an element that lasts all of a few hundred milliseconds at most telling us interesting things from the

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          How does creating an element that lasts all of a few hundred milliseconds at most telling us interesting things from the early universe?

          Because, oddly enough, many of the things in the early universe are postulated to have been elements which last a few hundred milliseconds. :-P

          My understanding is these are the kinds of things which get created when you have a really high-energy event, and you can likely learn stuff about how matter and the universe works. Mostly we get to see what really happens instead o

          • by amaurea (2900163)

            How does creating an element that lasts all of a few hundred milliseconds at most telling us interesting things from the early universe?

            Because, oddly enough, many of the things in the early universe are postulated to have been elements which last a few hundred milliseconds. :-P

            No heavy elements were created during Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, though. Even something as light as lithium was only created in minute amounts, and as far as i know, no elements with millisecond-class halflives were important in this process. Ununpentium is moderately interesting in its own right, but it will not teach us anything about Big Bang Nucleosyntehsis.

        • But even after that, the next question is, what else does this mean?

          It depends on the result
      • by JustNiz (692889)

        Sorry, I should have been more clear. I've nothing against doing science, I just wondered what, if anything, this stuff can be used to make that we couldn't already do before.
        See I'm still waiting for my matter transporter, affordable flying cars and free electricity that they were promising us back in the 50's.

        • Re:so... (Score:4, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @10:08AM (#44696763)

          my matter transporter

          We call that a "truck". Or "lorry", if you're British.

          affordable flying cars

          We call that one a "helicopter".

          and free electricity

          We call that one "reflashing your 'smart' meter"

      • Nobody knew the implications of the electron when it was discovered.

      • by Poeli (573204)

        Nobody is going to make you a car out of this, but some of these 'exotic' materials they need to create in a lab can tell us some interesting things about the early universe.

        It's not gonna tells us much as it is extremely short lived. They haven't 'seen' the atom itself. They measured it's decay products. There are no physical properties known of un-un-pentium because it's extremely difficult to measure anything about it.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          No physical properties?
          that's not true.

          • by Poeli (573204)

            No physical properties?
            that's not true.

            Name one that has been measured. We don't know anything for sure expect the decay.

            Everything else comes from theoretical calculations and predictions.

      • You never know what you'll find out once you've done the research.

        Is that like looking through the fridge and cabinets and mixing random things together to see if they taste good.... and my wife says "I'm not tasting your chemistry experiment. Wait that smells good, let me try it."

    • what is it actually good for?

      You can use it to build a boat.

    • War!
    • It's one of those rare ones in the Discovery tech tree, where you don't get a new weapon or base facility, but it's a prerequisite to some other, totally kickass tech. That next tech doesn't seem to be the docs, though. Actually, I can't even find out if this tech makes a Secret Project available. It's all undocumented. You just have to play to find out what happens, I guess.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We can use it to generate gravity waves which will allow us to fly to Mars and destroy the alien outpost there, ending the invasion of Earth.

    • This brings to mind the quote (and variants) that have been variously attributed to Benjamin Franklin and Michael Faraday: "What is the use of an infant?" Science is about discovering these things.
    • by vadim_t (324782)

      Ammunition for the plasma rifle and fuel for advanced aircraft.

    • Re:so... (Score:4, Informative)

      by elistan (578864) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @10:19AM (#44696869)
      Here's a highly moderated comment on why, from 2004:

      http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=95064&cid=8153826 [slashdot.org]
    • what is it actually good for?

      "...absolutely nothing. Say it again y'all!!" Oh, wait, that's War... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv5BYEOQYLo [youtube.com]

    • Since it was on slashdot, it's 100x stronger than graphene, can make solar panels 30x more efficient, can potentially cure cancer, makes electric car batteries more efficient, and is total and complete vaporware.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      what is it actually good for?

      If you have to ask, you may be at the wrong site. You might as well ask what good robots on Mars are. It's good for advancing mankind's pool of knowledge of physics.

      A substance that disappears as soon as it's created can't have much practical value, besides the aformentioned very important one. That's not to say a use for it will never be found.

      And whoever gave you that mod point should be ashamed of himself.

  • by barlevg (2111272) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:21AM (#44696301)
    Wikipedia was remarkably informative on the subject [wikipedia.org] (even for them):

    Ununpentium is a temporary IUPAC systematic element name derived from the digits 115, where "un-" represents Latin unum. "Pent-" represents the Greek word for 5, and it was chosen because the Latin word for 5 ("quin") starts with 'q', which would have caused confusion with flerovium (previously known as ununquadium), element 114.

    From the sentence before the section I quoted, I think even "eka-bismuth" would be a better name.

    • >where "un-" represents Latin unum. "Pent-" represents the Greek word for 5

      In "The-Up-To-Date Sorcerer", Isaac Asimov notes that his scientist-protagonist shows "a proper scorn for the niceties of classical philology" by mixing Greek and Latin roots in his terminology. Score another one for the good doctor.

  • Also know as Elerium (Score:5, Informative)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:21AM (#44696303)
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      While it's kind of neat that we're close to getting ready to make artificial elerium I don't think that we should focus on tracer cannons and tractor beams right away. First off, we have less than three decades left to develop even rudimentary flying submarines. Secondly, we're nowhere near having a robust mining infrastructure on Mars. Why develop tracer cannons when Solmine hasn't even gone public yet?

      In my opinion we should focus our efforts on flying sub research and on a way to completely seal off th
  • Let the puns begin. Isn't that just Pentium? Is that the same as unAMD?

  • So, Chemistry was 25+ years ago for me ... does the "un-un" part actually mean anything here, or is it just some joke like "un-obtanium"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:36AM (#44696471)

    Un-un-pentium is element 114.999997

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @09:47AM (#44696561)
    The Gillette Company today announced plans to create element 117. A Gillette spokesperson was quoted as saying "115 protons? Screw it boys, we'll go to 117 protons!"
  • That's a double negative. So, it's just pentium.

  • by ggraham412 (1492023) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @10:18AM (#44696855)

    ... or else poor Sulphur would be "Unsexium".

  • by barlevg (2111272) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @11:43AM (#44697695)
    The Associated Press [washingtonpost.com] felt that they needed to include the following line in their coverage:

    Well-known chemical elements include carbon, silicon and iron.

    Sigh...

  • And then go shoot some sectoids!

  • Astatine will be changing it's name to Ocho-Cinconium.

    Then after a few mediocre years it will just be known as Chad Johnson.

  • I just tried to tag this article !!pentium but they wouldn't let me. It also instantaneously gave me The Contradictor achievement which is kind of cool if it's for being self-contradicting.
  • Ununpentium:

    It's just the latest one of which the news has come to Harvard.
    There may be many others, but they haven't been discarvard.

    (Can't believe nobody else has posted this.)

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