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Periodic Table To Welcome Two New Elements 157

adeelarshad82 writes "Chemistry's periodic table can soon welcome livermorium and flerovium, two newly named elements, which were announced Thursday (Dec. 1) by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. The new names will undergo a five-month public comment period before the official paperwork gets processed and they show up on the table. Three other new elements just recently finished this process, filling in the 110, 111 and 112 spots."
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Periodic Table To Welcome Two New Elements

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  • by raydobbs ( 99133 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @04:35PM (#38242670) Homepage Journal

    Were these stable elements - or did they exist as a product of some super-collision for fractions of a second?

  • by eric_brissette ( 778634 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @04:40PM (#38242736)

    FTA - "All five of these elements are so large and unstable they can be made only in the lab, and they fall apart into other elements very quickly. Not much is known about these elements, since they aren't stable enough to do experiments on and are not found in nature."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 02, 2011 @05:11PM (#38243264)

    The problem probably comes from several parts. Mostly, the 'Atom', which came from Greek 'atomos': something that couldn't be made any smaller. It was the basic 'element' forming everything else, the building blocks of the universe.

    What was stated to be indivisible was found to be: protons, neutrons, and electrons. Those things that made up atoms... thus proved that we COULD cut the uncutable. And now those three parts are being subdivided further, into quarks.

    So it isn't exactly that elements are indivisible. It's just that the myriad of parts making them up (Protons, Neutrons, and that cloud of Electrons hovering around the nucleus) may change, with some of the changes drastically affecting the element enough that it's no longer what it is; the cases of elements like Uranium breaking down and becoming other elements is what happens with nuclear reactors (with us just harvesting the heat byproduct to make steam to turn turbines to generate electricity). The reverse can happen; combine two elements (say... Hydrogen) and fuse them together, and you can end up with a different element (Helium, among others). Same principle; the 'divisible' parts of the atoms are pushed together so that their nuclei join, and now the new single element changes with its new contents.

    The interesting thing will be how long it'll take to divide quarks into even smaller bits of 'something'... and whether it's turtles all the way down.

  • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @05:12PM (#38243278)

    An element is defined by the number of protons in the nucleus. Not by the number of protons in the nucleus that happen to stay together for a "long time (TBR)".

  • Re:Rejected again! (Score:5, Informative)

    by colinrichardday ( 768814 ) <> on Friday December 02, 2011 @06:00PM (#38244106)

    It's Acmeium, not Ajaxium.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 02, 2011 @06:55PM (#38244992)

    a) you're an idiot
    b) the "-ium" suffix is used for pretty much everything else.
    c) the discoverer of aluminium called it that first.

  • by newcastlejon ( 1483695 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @07:06PM (#38245102)

    No, it's not better. It just punts the problem from the unclear definition of "element" to the unclear definition of "chemically"

    Very well, I'll try again, though I suspect I'll fare no better.

    "You can't turn an atom of X into a lighter atom of Y just by mixing chemicals together in a beaker"

    I can make Uranium into Thorium by mixing two chemicals - Uranium and Uranium (and then waiting for the reaction to finish). Your definition needs to make it clear WHY this is not a chemical reaction.

    You can't make thorium from uranium by mixing it with more uranium. The uranium would decay anyway; you wouldn't have actually done anything to bring about the change. Perhaps it's just semantics but this is equivalent to saying you can make a hammer fall when you drop it by saying the magic word when you let go.

    We arbitrarily draw a line between "chemical" events and "nuclear" events based on what particles are involved, what they're doing, and so on. But it's still an aribitrary destinction created by humans and there are still oddball situations that straddle the line.

    I'm neither a physicist nor a chemist but I was taught that chemical reactions are all about interactions between atoms' electrons and that such interactions don't give rise to changes in the nucleus. I'm happy to be corrected on this point, and I'd be very happy to hear about the line-straddling situations you mention.

    Some things just aren't made of atoms in the usual sense. There's positronium, free neutrons, atoms with a bound muon, neutron stars...

    Indeed. No argument there.

    The superheavy atoms in TFA are a case where the usual definition of element is a bit weak, since their real-world behavior is nothing like that of stable elements.

    I'm not going to dispute this either, but I would ask that you consider the atom's point of view. As someone once said (I regret the name escapes me) "[subatomic particles] operate on a different timescale; it may not look like much on my watch but it's eternity to them". Superheavy elements seem to behave very differently to us, but aren't they very much like 'normal' elements albeit with an extremely short half-life?

    It might be wiser to redefine "element" in a way that specifically excludes them and call them something else instead, much like we redefined "planet" to exclude Pluto and Eris.

    What definition do you suggest? I was merely trying to improve on the faulty one given by saying you can't change one element into another through chemistry.

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