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Six Atoms of Element 117 Produced 213

mr crypto writes "A team of Russian and American scientists has produced six atoms of a new element, number 117, that has long stood as a missing link among the heaviest bits of atomic matter ever produced. The element, still nameless, appears to point the way toward a brew of still more massive elements with chemical properties no one can predict. The researchers say that the discovery bolsters the idea of an 'island of stability' among still heavier elements."
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Six Atoms of Element 117 Produced

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  • Hey chemists (Score:4, Interesting)

    by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:27PM (#31755854)

    still more massive elements with chemical properties no one can predict.

    Why can't this be predicted? An element is defined by the number of protons in the nucleus, right? So why is it difficult or impossible to predict what happens when you add another proton? We already have a known sequence of over a hundred elements we can look at to see what changes as the number of protons increases.

    Thanks for answering the stupid question of the day.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:39PM (#31755968) Homepage

    You have a good idea of some properties in general but not all and not in specific. Like, you could probably guess that this element would like to form a single bond, but how strong would it be? How readily does it ionize? Blah blah blah nevermind you're right.

  • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:50PM (#31756084) Journal

    The chemical properties are determined by the electron cloud around the atom. (Which is ofc determined by the number of protons in the core)

    Nevertheless the chemical properties are completely predictable as the element will behave similar as the other elements in its group.

    Best Regards

  • Re:Hey chemists (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:22PM (#31756300)

    In some cases even quantum-mechanical methods fail to describe heavier elements, for example gold wouldn't have gold color if not treated relativistically.

    Wow, for some reason I never knew that. Mercury being a liquid at room temperature is apparently also a relativistic effect. Interesting stuff. [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:No name yet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @08:34PM (#31756408) Homepage Journal

    As long as they don't call it Belgium [bbc.co.uk].

  • 3D Table is Required (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Plekto ( 1018050 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:04PM (#31756612)

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/03/05/163226/First-Creation-of-Anti-Strange-Hypernuclei [slashdot.org]

    This was on Slashdot a few weeks ago. And it shows us that the periodic table is without a doubt in need of a major revision from what we've always assumed to be correct.

    http://www.meta-synthesis.com/webbook/35_pt/pt.html [meta-synthesis.com]
    Dozens of (the major) alternate versions are listed here as well. I personally like the Dufour Periodictree myself, as it has a nice symmetry to it that's similar to the circular one.

  • Belt of Stability (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RobinEggs ( 1453925 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:07PM (#31756634)
    Speaking of periodic trends, I bet some of you are wondering just why we care about ultra heavy elements that last for roughly .0000000000002 seconds before falling apart.

    The deal is, there's a rough property of periodic trends and neutron/proton ratios in which certain ratios stick together well, and one of the hopes is that once we're synthesizing some really, really heavy stuff the ratios will be such that it all sticks together again, and we will have stable, completely synthetic, super-heavy elements with cool properties.
  • Re:Hey chemists (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jacix ( 1597247 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:10PM (#31756666)
    An element is defined by the number of protons in the nucleus but its properties are largely determined by the number and configuration of electrons around that nucleus. Remember that the definition of an element is entirely made up by and for humans. Physical properties couldn't care less how we categorize them. Roughly speaking the more electrons there are the more possible configurations there are for them so the larger the element (and hence the more electrons) the harder their behavior is to predict. If you look in detail at a periodic table you'll find that the triple-digit elements in particular are missing a lot of physical details because they can only be obtained empirically and they don't stick around long enough to do that. As for names how about Faradanium, Hawkonium, Salkium, Kakunium, Saganium.
  • by modrzej ( 1450687 ) <m.m.modrzejewski@gma i l .com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:53PM (#31756970)
    Actually, not outer but inner, or core, electrons move at relativistic velocities. Classically described, they are moving in orbits close to the nucleus, so when it has huge positive charge, electric field is strong enough to accelerate movement of negatively charged particles to relativistic speed. Outer electrons aren't affected as much because they feel as if the nucleus had smaller charge simply because it is screened by core electrons.
  • Not true (Score:5, Interesting)

    by students ( 763488 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @10:35PM (#31757180) Homepage Journal

    A good quantum analog of the classical speed grandparent was talking about is the root mean square velocity (computed from the momentum operator), which need not be zero for a bound state. The Heisenberg uncertainty relation shows that a particle in any state may be observed to have a nonzero velocity.

    Perhaps you are thinking that the wavefunction, as it is written in most textbooks, does not depend on time. Usually in books the time dependent factor is dropped because it is not very interesting. Also, it is incorrect to think that the motion of a wavefunction is the quantum analog of the classical motion of a particle. Always think in expectation values.

  • Re:still more... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:12PM (#31757388) Homepage

    I thought it was hilarious myself. It was a wink from the director to us nerds. It told me not to take the movie so seriously. :P

I've got a bad feeling about this.