Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Science News

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Copernicium Confirmed As Element 112

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:45PM (#31265072)

    Now there will never be a chinesium (although i guess we could re-name lead).


    • I realize you were going for a joke, but what does China have to do with this? The article gives no indication of competing claims to discovery by Chinese researchers. A Japanese researcher synthesized it at later date in a different way, but again, there doesn't seem to be any dispute over naming rights.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward


      • China has sent the world an awful lot of lead tainted products over the years - thus the China/lead joke.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by beav007 ( 746004 )
          Not to mention the lead the Chinese Government sends its own citizens. Usually at high speed...
      • Re:Take that china (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dancindan84 ( 1056246 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:07PM (#31265424)
        .cn is the country code top-level domain for China. He was making a joke. /whoosh
    • Can we make that official? ;)

      I also suggest renaming America to PlasticFantastica ;)

      (You are eligible to naming European countries. ;)

      P.S.: <tag/> would be a tag that is closed in itself. So it would not include anyting before or after it. Not quite what you intended, I guess... ;)

    • Chuck Norris, too, weeps in despair.
  • What about ununbium?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Fluffeh ( 1273756 )

      What about ununbium?

      Can't be worse than Unobtainium *gag*.

      Thankyou Avatar, for the dumbest name of a substance in movie history.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Unobtanium has been around for far longer than Avatar.


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

        by perlchild ( 582235 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:00PM (#31265322)

        Avatar wasn't the first use of that, they actually reused a name that had been used in literature for decades... []

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

          by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:30PM (#31265754)

          Yeah, I've used Unobtainium for years, and everyone here at work knows what's meant. (Admittedly, I'm an Engineer.) Okay, not quite true, as two foreign Engineers didn't know what it was.

          In Avatar, Unobtanium was the McGuffin -- it didn't matter what it was, just that there was a reason that Homo Sapiens was on a different, hostile planet that wasn't for xenorelations. Water's plentiful on comets, any minerals would be easier to get from asteroids, since there's way less of a gravity well, and so the only reason we'd be there is either to talk to aliens or to get a rare material.

          A room-temperature superconductor is pretty much the Holy Grail of Physics.

          It doesn't explain why the humans didn't just take the mountains and / or use orbital bombardment.

          • Nuclear. Fucking. Weapons. There's no problem that cannot be made to go away with sufficient use of nuclear weapons.

            Even nuclear proliferation! Set enough of 'em off and bam, no more problem.

            • by epine ( 68316 )

              Nuclear. Fucking. Weapons. There's no problem that cannot be made to go away with sufficient use of nuclear weapons.

              Your diction sounds like you're falling into a black hole, so I think you're going to need more than a cowboy hat and a crayon to catapult around the other side.

              What kind of mind goes into a parking orbit between words?

              I admit, it is kind of menacing to see a blood and guts marine in a stalled humvee bearing down on you with four sumo wrestlers tossing the vehicle forward in three foot increments. Anyone would think twice confronted with that spectacle.

      • 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.

        • And here was I thinking that the movie writers were too lazy to think of a name and just stuck in the generic term.

          Also thanks for the backstory info, makes me want to read the book a whole lot more than the movie did.

        • I internally rationalized with the idea that it could be e.g. ununoctium oxide, some theoretical super-heavy ore that got nicknamed "unobtainium" as a pun due to the native resistance to mining operations.

          That's a pretty fascinating backstory, though.

        • On the other hand, they had a pretty interesting scientific backstory for the movie

          Ahhhhhhh... now the floating mountains make sense. Thanks for explaining it.

        • The back story was pretty well thought out, even to how the spacecraft worked (very in-depth, although never explained in the movie). The sad part is they also went into great detail as to how the aliens didn't use DNA to encode their genes, but then go on to base the entire story on clones that combine human DNA with alien DNA.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Rei ( 128717 )

            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 t

            • Still, the fact that Cameron has script reviewers and patched the plotholes they found already says something good. Oh, if only Lucas had that sort of humility when he was doing the prequels!
        • "also lead to a large current flowing through the planet."

          That could also partially explain bioluminescence of flora and fauna.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      According to Wikipedia, it's called "Roentgenium".

  • by weaponx86 ( 1112757 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:46PM (#31265100)
    Uranium was seen at a local club with Copernicium, probably to make her feel better about herself.
    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:19PM (#31265592) Homepage

      Interestingly enough, uranium isn't the heaviest naturally occurring element. It occurs in two ways. One is extremely small amounts [] of natural Pu-244 The other is muromontite [], which is a beryllium and sometimes uranium-containing form of allanite, making it a natural breeder reactor.

      • by necro81 ( 917438 )
        Even more interesting is that, while it is the heaviest in the periodic table, uranium is not the "heaviest" material you can hold. That would go to the densest material, which does not exactly correspond to atomic number. Behold:

        Al: 2.7 g/cc
        Fe: 7.8
        Pb: 11.3
        U : 19.1
        W : 19.3
        Pu: 19.8
        Pt: 21.4

        So while uranium is indeed really "heavy" (which is why depleted uranium is great for artillery projectiles), it's not quite the heaviest around.

        But here's the real head scratcher: if you had a 1-kg i
    • by tyrione ( 134248 )

      Uranium was seen at a local club with Copernicium, probably to make her feel better about herself.

      Bystanders overheard Uranium note what a large prick Copernicium sported.

  • On Earth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ircmaxell ( 1117387 )

    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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      And (even more minor quibble) it's not even technically true that uranium is the heaviest naturally occurring element on earth. Trace amounts of some transuranic elements are found in deposits of uranium ore, particularly at the natural nuclear reactor at Oklo, Gabon as a result of neutron irradiation of uranium, the same principle as used in breeder reactors.
    • Technically, it's inaccurate on Earth as well. Trace amounts of plutonium are found in concentrated uranium ore, particularly those deposits that have acted as a natural nuclear fission reactor, [] the most famous being the Oklo [] reactor.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Considering the half lives of the ultra-heavy elements, they don't exist anywhere other than labs except for brief periods in supernovae.

    • Re:On Earth (Score:4, Interesting)

      by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:17PM (#31265562) Journal

      Except that the larger elements have much shorter half-lives. Unless there's a stable (or nearly so) element, we won't find anything hiher than ~Americium we won't find a quantity of higher elements worth mentioning. Uranium is the heaviest element in nature in any quantity (Plutonium and Americium occur in trace quantities due to spontaneous fission and the neutron irradiation that results) Supernovae and black holes might have the conditions neccessary to forge super heavy elements but the stability of these elements is the real problem.

    • Uranium is only the heaviest natural "stable" element on earth when condsidered on an atom-by-atom basis. Several elements have a higher specific gravity: Osmium, Iridium, Tungsten, Gold, Platinum, Rhenium.
  • So what I don't understand is if this particle would ever naturally occur? During the big bang? In a supernova? And if not then why continue to spend money and time on the task of building bigger and bigger particles? What use will they be if only to exist for a fraction of a second?
    • I believe that our drive to construct bigger elements helps confirm that our scientific model is correct - and should we discover any discrepancies (like say the UV Catastrophe) than that only helps us understand things better, since we reform our theories to fit the results.

    • Because knowledge is a good thing? As it happens, Copernicium_285 has a halflife that is higher than elements 109 and up [].

      I find it interesting, but apparently you seem to think that knowledge is a bad thing.

      Why? Who cares.
      Could finding out possibly be of use? Who cares.
      Suppose we find perfectly stable elements? Why bother?

    • Re:natural? (Score:5, Informative)

      by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:05PM (#31265388)
      It's theorised that somewhere in the 1xx range lies one or more "islands of stability", where one or more undiscovered heavy elements exist with either very long half-lives, or stable nuclei.
    • Actually, your basic belief is false. Not all larger particles exist only for a fraciton of a second. There are cycles and some elemental numbers that we can not yet created have been theorized to be stable for long time periods. In addition, we do NOT have a reasonable sample of all 'naturally' occuring particles. We only got what this particular are of the universe happens to have. As such, it is quite likely that there are places in the galaxy where some of these large, stable elements exist in larg
    • If super-heavy elements are discovered which have longer half-lives (and this is suspected to be the case), these elements would be extremely valuable simply for their density if nothing else. Ion drives use heavy, inert atoms as their reaction material -- xenon, for instance. The efficiency of any propulsion system goes up as the per-particle mass of the propellant increases. So one application of stable, super-heavy elements would be as reaction material for ion thrusters. It doesn't even have to be stabl

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:51PM (#31265170)


  • My breathless wait is over.

  • When I first heard "Beryllium" I got rather excited ... it sounded "beer-ilicious indeed!" ... until I saw how it was spelled and thought "damn, that even looks like it will taste bad".
  • by careysub ( 976506 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:24PM (#31265656)

    Since plutonium, element 93, is found in uranium ores (being bred there by neutron capture) and Pu-244 (half-life 80.8 million years) has also survived in detectable quantities from the formation of the Earth, uranium is not the heaviest natural element on Earth.

    • Minor nit, but IIRC, plutonium is element 94. Neptunium is 93.

    • Pu-244 does not have 244 protons, it still only has 94 protons.

      The article was speaking of base atomic weight, they certainly weren't suggesting heavier isotopes did not exist. They were talking about the element itself, not its potential isotope. The element Plutonium has an atomic weight of about 188, Coppernicium has an atomic weight of about 224. Coppernicium is the heavier element. If you'll read more carefully, they are careful to refer to proton count so nit-pickers like you can understand their

    • Since plutonium, element 93, is found in uranium ores (being bred there by neutron capture) and Pu-244 (half-life 80.8 million years)

      Holy cr*p, dewd. 80 million years, that's a long time.

      So, if they ever discover an element with a negative half-life, will they call it Banach-Tarskium?

  • The element's discoverer was, quite understandably, crushed by his lack of recognition. []

  • copper (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yoyoq ( 1056216 )
    copernicus was named after copper (dad was a copper smith or something) so this makes two elements named after copper. not very original.
    • Uh... Copper isn't named after copper. It *is* copper. So we have one element named copper, and another element named after a person who was named after copper. I don't see the problem. The point is the person, not the copper.
      • by Blain ( 264390 )

        Actually, copper's name is derived from Cyprus. So Copernicium is an element named for a person named for an element named for an island.

        That's enough for me to get over my love of ununbium.

    • Indeed he was (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 )
      Look at my sig. I'm a systems modeler, and before that my work included research into copper alloys, so I borrowed Kupfernigk's actual name, not the Latinisation, for my sig (since he built a mathematical model of the Solar System). "Kupfer" is still the German word for copper.

      So, to nitpick, since transuranics use the actual form of scientist's names, it should really be Kupfernigkium, Kf.

      (Otherwise, Einsteinium would have to be Unopetrium.)

  • 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.


    Nuclear Chemistry [] Feed @ Feed Distiller []

  • Scientific misconduct, eh? I've known all along these so-called physicists are making up these elements for fame and fortune. As long as they keep claiming to find elements they'll keep getting grant money and be rolling in dough!
  • KOP-er-NEEK-ium? I don't even know what the rules are on this sort of thing.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein