Good news to all manufacturers of science textbooks and lovers of chemistry & tidiness! The periodic table is now ‘filled in’, with the ratification of four new, man-made elements by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
In a development which will undoubtedly set the printers in motion for the latest editions of countless chemistry textbooks, elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 are set to join the already-confirmed elements 114 and 116 (which were added in 2007) in completing the seventh row of the periodic table. Anyone with OCD can now rejoice.
These elements are very heavy (in atomic terms) were created in laboratory conditions, where lighter nuclei (of smaller elements) were collided into each other. These elements were then created as a result of radioactive decay, but only lasted for a fraction of a second before decaying into other, smaller elements. So don’t expect any of your latest gadgets to be made out of these elements anytime soon.
The former president of Riken – the Japanese organisation to discover one of these new elements – has said that the discovery and subsequent ratification is ‘of greater value than an Olympic Gold Medal’.
The fact that these elements have been added is no surprise, as the nature of the periodic table means that often elements can be ‘predicted’ based on their atomic number (the number that goes up by one every time).
These man-made elements are yet to be named, and the team from Russia, Japan and the US get to choose one all by themselves. However, any element has to be named after a mythological concept, a place or country, a mineral, a property or a scientist. More importantly, they get to decide what symbol gets to go on the actual table itself. The news elements have been given provisional names based on their atomic number.