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Copernicium Confirmed As Element 112 183

Several sources are reporting that the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has confirmed Copernicium as element 112 on the periodic table of elements with the symbol Cn. "The naming of the new element will be the culmination of a long, fraught journey involving fierce competition, dashed hopes, clever detective work and even a brush with scientific misconduct. With a nucleus containing 112 protons — 20 more than uranium, the heaviest of the naturally occurring elements — it will be the weightiest atom whose existence has been confirmed so far."
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Copernicium Confirmed As Element 112

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  • On Earth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ircmaxell ( 1117387 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:47PM (#31265106) Homepage

    20 more than uranium, the heaviest of the naturally occurring elements

    Minor quibble... it's the heavies of the naturally occurring elements on Earth. Heaver elements usually require different conditions (higher energy levels, gravity differences, etc) that can be found on earth. But there's nothing to say they can't be found elsewhere...

  • Re:But But but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:55PM (#31265234)

    Unobtanium has been around for far longer than Avatar.


  • Re:Cool name (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bcmm ( 768152 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:09PM (#31265464)

    ...remind me again, what did Copernicus do that was related to nuclear physics?

    Element names are used to honour people and places for all sorts of reasons, and Copernicus clearly deserves it.

    Röntgen's contributions were not exactly nuclear physics either, and Alfred Nobel wasn't even a physicist (neither was Vasili Samarsky-Bykhovets).

  • Re:But But but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:10PM (#31265484) Homepage

    On the other hand, they had a pretty interesting scientific backstory [] for the movie. When I was watching the movie, when the guy set down the "unobtanium" on a platform and it floated, I immediately thought, "Huh... I bet that's supposed to be a room-temperature superconductor. Which would explain the demand." And indeed, that's exactly the intent. According to the backstory, part of the reason for the intense initial interest in the moon was the very high magnetic field strength it displayed. And since superconductors expel magnetic fields, leading to stable levitation, the floating mountains and continents are actually scientifically plausible in such a scenario. The very high magnetic field and the presence of the moon orbiting in the radiation belt of a gas giant leads to very high levels of ionizing radiation at the poles and at the intense local distortions in the magnetic field from the "unobtanium" -- to the degree that they're not just deadly, but also lead to a large current flowing through the planet.

    The explanation for the mineral name is that scientists frustrated on Earth used began using the name "unobtanium" in reference to high temperature superconductors (before stable versions were found on Pandora) that it stuck.

  • copper (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yoyoq ( 1056216 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @07:35PM (#31266498)
    copernicus was named after copper (dad was a copper smith or something) so this makes two elements named after copper. not very original.
  • Copernicium (Score:3, Insightful)

    by physburn ( 1095481 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @08:55PM (#31267190) Homepage Journal
    Sound two much like copper. But of course Copernicus was such champion of science that he well deserves a element named after him. Elements 110 and 114 are special numbers of protons. So with the right number of Neutrons an isotope of Coperniclum may be somewhat stable. Most of the Elements heavier that 100 decay in milliseconds. The right number of neutrons is something like 184, so its Cp-296 that is golden target to look for. So far nuclear scientists have not come anywhere near making an atom that neutron heavy.


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  • Re:But But but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @09:13PM (#31267304) Homepage

    I'd bet dollars to donuts that that particular plot element was thrown in at the last minute to explain why they had to bring along this incompetent, untrained grunt to take part in a scientific mission. If the didn't have the DNA requirement, they could have used anyone.

    I'm sure someone out there was reading over the script and said, "Hey, wait a minute -- why are they bringing HIM of all people?" To which Cameron probably debated the point for a while before ultimately conceding that they had to patch that issue.

    The plot to Avatar was nothing special -- pick trope, write script. What made the movie impressive, however, was not just top-notch graphics, but also excellent worldbuilding behind it.

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. -- Bill Vaughn