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Long-lived Super Heavy Element Created 110

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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  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @05:00AM (#17385446) Journal
    "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.
  • Re:Heavy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tom17 ( 659054 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @06:10AM (#17385686) Homepage
    OK, I am missing something here...

    For starters, I accept that they can do this but...

    1. I thought Hydrogen (and deuterium) were the easiest atoms to fuse together (Call it a naive assumption if you like).
    2. I also thought that these were incredibly hard to fuse together.
    3. I also thought that even in a star, there is only enough energy to fuse atoms together up to Iron.
    4. I also thought that you only get the energy needed to fuse atoms to form elements higher than Iron in a Supernova.
    5. So I figured we'd not be able to harness the kinds of energy needed to fuse atoms this big.
    6. I have just been watching Steven Hawkins series about all this shit over the xmas break :)
    7. I did have rudimentary knowledge of all this stuff before watchign those shows.

    So obviously we can create this kind of energy. I must have been confusing "not being able to fuse atoms together" with "not being able to fuse atoms together in an energy efficient manner" - i.e. the reason we dont get more out than in with our fusion energy attemts.

    So if we can fuse hige Super Heavy atoms together, why can't we fuse lesser atoms together to make, say, gold?

    I obviously have a flaw somewhere in my assumptions, if it's a simple one-liner, please tell me. Otherwise I will just go research it all again and find where I went wrong :)

    Thanks for your time.

  • Re: your flaw (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tom17 ( 659054 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @10:06AM (#17386858) Homepage
    Yeah I did the school stuff and did well at it, but that was like 17 years ago now so its all started to fade a bit since I switched from science to computers around then :-(

    I totally understand about the low duration bursts etc, I just think that, as you say, those shows glance over things too much and that may have just muddled things up in my head a bit this time round.

    Thanks for all your responses, they have been helpful and I am back on track :) Now I need to un-learn all the stuff I explained* to my wife while we went through those shows over xmas. Its tough explainign all this stuff to someone who did not learn much about atoms and physics at school, but its a good chance to go through things in your own head again from the basics. Quite the challenge too after so long :)

    *With those shows, I find myself doing about an hours of explaining for every 30 mins of show - really shows how much they assume/miss...
  • Re:futurama (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @11:58AM (#17387894)
    and i thought the professor was a cartoon character!!

    Nope, he was a real live person: []

    And he did invent something called the Fusor []

    Although, Futurama did pay homage to him with the Professor character.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.