ESTABLISHING ELEMENT 113 INVOLVED SOME HEAVY COMPETITION, MORE THAN A DECADE
(NEWSER) – As the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry puts it in a press release, “The 7th period of the periodic table of elements is complete.” It has verified the discovery of elements 113, 115, 117, and 118, effectively filling the 7th row and “rendering science textbooks around the world instantly out of date,” reports the Guardian. The elements currently have temporary working names and symbols. IUPAC’s Dec. 30 announcement will ultimately lead to permanent ones, which the discoverers can now propose; the release specifies that “new elements can be named after a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or a scientist.” One candidate for the highly radioactive element 113: japonium, per the Japanese government-affiliated Riken Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science, which was given credit for the element.
The Guardian notes the element will be the first to have a name bestowed on it from Asia. The AP reports that the Japanese scientists behind the synthetic element started working to create it in 2003 “by bombarding a thin layer of bismuth with zinc ions traveling at about 10% the speed of light.” They were in competition with a team of Russian and American scientists who were also gunning for the naming rights after announcing that same element’s discovery in 2004. But the honor went to Japan, and the team leader says he intends to spend part of 2016 coming up with it. A bit of science-wow from the AP: “Isotopes of element 113 have a very short half-life, lasting for less than a thousandth of a second, making its discovery very difficult. After twice succeeding to create it, the group tried for seven years before further success, in August 2012.” (A sophomoric prank also lurks on the periodic table.)