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It's All About the Ununpentium 411

spitefulcrow writes "The New York Times is reporting that elements 113 and 115 have been created by a joint team of Russian and American scientists. The temporary names are ununtrium and ununpentium until the experiment has been duplicated and verified in another lab. According to the article, speculation has been made that 'Rather than being round, nuclei in that region and beyond could contain bubbles and have strange doughnut-like shapes'."
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It's All About the Ununpentium

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  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:22PM (#8151860) Homepage

  • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:24PM (#8151874)
    Mmmmm... Forbidden ununpentium....
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:24PM (#8151875)
    I'm sure there will be a movie about it. Bruce Willis the cab-driver and his girlfriend who wears nothing but ductape, all over again.
  • by locknloll ( 638243 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:24PM (#8151879) Homepage
    ...but when are we going to have the ununceleron, ununathlon, ununopteron & ununitanium?
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) * on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:26PM (#8151896) Journal
    Cuz if it is
    Laboratory tests prove the new element can't divide or multiply.
  • Google Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by jeffkjo1 ( 663413 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:27PM (#8151901) Homepage
    For the tin-foil hat impaired, here is a de-register-it-ized link: The Story []
  • I think what we're all wonder is when are they going to get to Balognium?
  • by Limburgher ( 523006 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:27PM (#8151904) Homepage Journal
    I mean, if AMD makes the UnPentium, by extension, Intel would make the UnUnPentium.

    Unless then meant that Macs are the UnPentium. In which case the above still holds. :)

  • That's not a new element, that's an old Intel chip!
  • Can Intel now sue Mendeleev for trademark violation?

    This will be a black mark on the physics community for sure...
  • by cr@ckwhore ( 165454 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:28PM (#8151919) Homepage
    Interesting notion ... I happened to stumble across a reference to this "ununpentium" the other day while satisfying my science fiction curiosities on a site called "". Apparently, some of the Area 51 conspiracy theorists believe it's used in anti-gravity research... or something like that.

    Document about ununpentium published in 1999: 115.htm l

    • Ununpentium was the supposed element that powered alien spaceships as stated by Bob Lazar. After many years and a website ( they admitted that this whole thing was an attempt to promote a movie idea. Too bad the main character, Lazar, looks like friggin' Keith Richards after a badger attack. Tom Cruise gets paid the big bucks for something guys, and it's sure not his acting.
  • by da3dAlus ( 20553 ) <> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:28PM (#8151923) Homepage Journal
    Virgil:All right, then. For half a million dollars, which of the following is not a subatomic particle?
    A) Proton
    B) Neutron
    C) Bonbon, or
    D) Electron
    Moe:Oh, boy. All right, let's see here, uh ... well, I was born in Indiana, so that ain't it. And, uh, hmmm ... I'd better call my lifeline.
    Homer:Well, it all starts when a nulicule comes out of its nest.
    Lisa:[taking the phone] The answer is "bonbon!"
    Moe:Uh, I'm going to say, "bonbon."
  • ... obviously :-)

  • by tgeller ( 10260 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:30PM (#8151946) Homepage
    The ununpentium: Element number 114.9999659899937582.
  • by corebreech ( 469871 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:30PM (#8151947) Journal
    We're looking for a stable heavy element. My question is, "Why?"

    I mean, as if things weren't already fucked up enough, we actually have people working to bring into this world something which has never existed. And the consequences? Apparently nobody gives a shit.

    Haven't these guys ever played DOOM? Or watched Event Horizon? I'd feel a lot safer if their creativity was tinged with a healthy dose of fear.
    • Haven't these guys ever played DOOM?

      If you will remember correctly, that doesn't happen until we put stuff on mars... oh.
    • Unlike you, these guys know what they are doing. They also know that yes, these things have existed. Millions of atoms of these elements were probably created in upper atmosphere during time it took for you to write that little ignorant scaremongering rant. Nobody was there to observe, though, and that is what they want to do.

      Amazingly enough, they've also managed to understand the little-known elusive fact you seem to be missing, that DOOM and Event Horizon are fiction, not even science fiction but just p
      • Unlike you, these guys know what they are doing.

        Actually, if you bother to RTFA, they don't know what they're doing. As they themselves acknowledge, they're "really just chipping away at the edges of it." They tried to create an element with 115 protons, and they end up with one that has only 113 instead, which appears to be entirely accidental.

        As for the rest of your post, it is mostly shit so I won't bother responding, except to say that it is good to see that most everybody else here knows a joke wh
  • Yeah, Yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Naked Chef ( 626614 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:33PM (#8151974)
    This is like the 3rd time we've heard this, and again the article says "pending verification" from other labs' experiment. I wish they'd hold off on the story until it really is verified independently, and we can all bask in the glory of the new elements... :)
  • What's the point ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vlad_petric ( 94134 )
    I'll start by saying that I am not a physicist (by far).

    They create heavy elements, which are so unstable that they decay as quickly as they were created.

    So I'm wondering - what's the point ? Just getting your name associated with an element in the periodic table ? It seems to me that the money would be better spent in doing stuff with real applications (like producing cheaper anti-matter or getting closer to controlled fusion)

    • by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:40PM (#8152038) Homepage Journal
      Well, one possible benefit would be finding a heavy element that decays in some unusual and useful way, possibly an easier way to start/stop a fission process (random idea, no feasibility assumed).
    • In science a lot of times you do things just because you can. Maybe to check again your theory, hey, it might be wrong after all. So, this is a boundary, everyone thinks they know how it would be, but someone has to go there and make sure. It is just for the sense of discovery
    • To study the spray of elementary particles that come off it when it's decaying.. how else are we going to proove/disproove our theories of "everything"?
    • Seconded... sort of. Slightly less accusatively, I hope.

      I don't begrudge them researching superheavy elements... trying to force a scientist who speciallizes in those to research something else is like trying to force a writer to be a dancer -- neither pretty nor effective. I'm just wondering what they can do with the knowledge and theoretical stable atoms they develop.

      So... what might we learn, or what might we be able to make?

    • by jpflip ( 670957 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @03:24PM (#8152388)
      As other posters have said, the point is that we learn more about the nucleus - we find out exactly what the half-lives of these nuclei are, etc. This info could have applications to reactors, weapons, energy sources, etc. But the main point is that we know more about the universe. And one never knows where applications will come from. Sometimes a seemingly pointless discovery has a lot of real-world consequences - superconductors, for example, have revolutionized sensor technology for medical scanners and such (though we still don't have them for power lines). Other times, the big result is the spinoffs you come up with along the way - the internet was invented as a way to coordinate particle physics experiments.
    • Thing how much money ununpentium will be worth!

      If it decays as fast as it's created and it's the hot new discovery then surely supply and demand will make the price enormous, right?
    • to provide fodder for ignorant slashdotters to question the value of research by people who have far more knowledge about a topic than they do.

    • Cheaper anti-matter? Where are you buying yours from that it's so expensive? I get mine wholesale at rockbottom prices. Shop around.

    • I heard element 126 is predicted to be stable.

      If so, we are getting closer.
    • by autophile ( 640621 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @06:28PM (#8153826)
      They create heavy elements, which are so unstable that they decay as quickly as they were created.

      So I'm wondering - what's the point ?

      Elements 83 (bismuth) and under have one or more stable isotopes, and one or more unstable isotopes. So, for example, hydrogen (element 1) is stable, but deuterium (H-2) and tritium (H-3) are not. Nevertheless, these unstable isotopes are useful. Deuterium is used in nuclear medicine, in heavy water for nuclear reactors, and in fusion reactions. So...

      Myth: Unstable isotopes are useless.
      Myth Busted!

      Past element 83, there are no stable isotopes. There's a pretty good chart showing the stable and unstable isotopes here []. There's also an interactive one, color-coded for lifetimes, here []. The half-life of these elements decreases from millenia to microseconds. However...

      It's been known for decades that certain numbers of protons are "magic" in that they "pack together" in a very stable manner. Same thing with neutrons. As we approach the next "magic" numbers, the half-lives of the elements should start going back up. And they do.

      In this latest experiment, the particular isotope of element 113 *may* have lasted for as long as 1.2 seconds. That's a long time for such a heavy element. Elements under 113 last for much less time, so that shows that we may be reaching the region of stability.

      The region of stability is apparently close by, and *stable* superheavy elements will assuredly have useful properties.

      And that's why nuclear chemists continue to search for heavier and heavier artificial elements. Because one day one of them will last for more than a few seconds. And then one day, one of them will last forever. Instant revolution in materials science.

      Myth: There's no point searching for superheavy elements.
      Myth Busted!


  • by eet23 ( 563082 ) <> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:39PM (#8152020) Journal
    I thought the scientists had lost count and just called it umpteenium.
  • by The Creator ( 4611 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:44PM (#8152070) Homepage Journal
    I will always call element 115 Elerium.
  • There are many other nuclei that can take the shape of a torous ( doughnut shaped). I accordance witht he uncertianty principle you can only predict a probobility of the shape, jsut like electron orbitals.
    • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @05:06PM (#8153143)
      Everyone seems surprised that nuclei are not always spheres. Lopsidedness is common in nuclei. O-16, for example, has a complete set of filled proton and neutron shells (making it the nuclear equivalent of a noble gas like the helium nucleus). If you add another neutron to make O-17, the neutron fills the first available orbital (an s-orbital) in the next, empty shell. This means it will tend to zig zag back and forth in a little straight line through the center of the nucleus. Since the other particles are always attracted to it and moving toward wherever it is, the rest of the nucleus gets distended from a round sphere and stretched in the direction of the neutron's motion. O-18 is even more football-shaped because there are two neutrons in that s-orbital now. Of course, in the case of s-orbitals there is little angular momentum to use as a reference, so the axis is indeterminate and it doesn't make any sense to say the football is "pointing" in any given direction.
      But many nuclei are distended by orbitals with definite angular momentum, and many are distended into shapes that are not footballs. Disks are common. The nuclei of heavy elements like uranium are shaped like light bulbs, with a definite axis. The "bulge" in the bulb sloshes back and forth along the main axis, onto each side of the center of mass.

  • The Answer is 126. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by leoaugust ( 665240 ) <> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:55PM (#8152162) Journal

    Rather than being round, nuclei in that region and beyond could contain bubbles and have strange doughnut-like shapes, Dr. Nazarewicz said.
    One of the theories is that our universe is shaped like a doughnut. Universe as Doughnut: New Data, New Debate [] So, the highest and the deepest reaches are similar in our conception.
    The discoveries fill a gap at the furthest edge of the periodic table and hint strongly at a weird landscape of undiscovered elements beyond.
    I recollect that Star trek [] starts off with "Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. It's continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before."
    Those numbers should help map out what Dr. Nazarewicz prefers to call generically a "region of stability" among the superheavies. (Because, he says, it could resemble a peninsula more than an island.) Various theories have suggested that the next magic proton number is 114, 120 or 126, he said. There is general agreement that the next magic neutron number is 184, he said.
    According to Douglas Adam, the answer is 42. [] I would say the other possible answers are 84, 126, 168, & 210. So, the correct answer is 126.


  • Purpose (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @02:59PM (#8152192) Homepage
    Other than bragging rights, does the discovery of these newer elements (most of which only exist for a tiny moment in time) serve any real purpose? Could someone explain how this type of research has produced real benefit for science?
    • Re:Purpose (Score:4, Insightful)

      by FredGray ( 305594 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @05:11PM (#8153170) Homepage
      Heavy elements provide additional data points that let us test our understanding of nuclear structure and the interactions that hold the protons and neutrons together. The universe is basically powered by nuclear processes, so what we learn about nuclear structure is then related to astrophysics and cosmology.

      Take the case of a neutron star--it's made of extremely dense nuclear matter. As elements get heavier and heavier, they become better approximations of the environment of a neutron star.

  • by NuWinter ( 688299 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @03:02PM (#8152212)
    Assuming it was found, is that based on our understanding of the Periodic Table of Elements, those elements in the same Group or column have similar properties.

    So, based on that knowledge we can say that Element 115 should be very much like Element 83 (Bismuth), which is the most diamagnetic metal, giving it some very interesting properties.

    Also, it should be noted that Element 115 should it possess diamagnetism, and all indications are that it should, it will be a much better diamagnetic material than Bismuth.

  • by `Sean ( 15328 ) * <> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @03:02PM (#8152217) Homepage Journal
    I was going to attempt a witty remark about Unintel Inside, but couldn't pull it off...
  • by Hackie_Chan ( 678203 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @03:03PM (#8152227)
    Interesting? I remember reading about Ununpentium years ago right here. [] How can this be news?
  • Unobtainium (Score:5, Funny)

    by panurge ( 573432 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @03:26PM (#8152394)
    Nice one in the header. For those who don't know, unobtainium was the superdense metal needed to make the balance weights for the crankshafts of single cylinder motorcycle engines with unfeasibly small flywheels. Then the Japanese came along and reinvented balance shafts.

    There's probably a perfectly simple way to make superheavy elements, too. We just need to get the quarks and the gluons into separate bottles, then just weigh the ingredients and get out the Magimix. All this colliding heavy nuclei at high speed may look good and make for big budgets, but all real progress is made with test tubes and Bunsen burners.

  • by spectasaurus ( 415658 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @03:46PM (#8152552)
    It's called an Athlon.
  • Wrong Name (Score:3, Funny)

    by DDumitru ( 692803 ) <> on Sunday February 01, 2004 @05:31PM (#8153305) Homepage
    I thought it was supposed to be called:



  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Sunday February 01, 2004 @08:10PM (#8154497) Homepage Journal
    110 is 270 microseconds.
    112 is 240 microseconds.
    116 is 47 milliseconds

    Can we say they really exist, or should we call it rather a random aglomeration of electrons, protons and neutrons?

    Saying they were created is just like saying jumping is flying.

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