Although the periodic table might seem stale, scientists have discovered about one-hundred new elements in the last 250 years. However, the last naturally-occurring element on the periodic table is element 92, Uranium. The rest, beginning with Neptunium's discovery in 1940, are artificially-created elements produced by scientists in high-energy particle accelerators. So it is with the newest additions, Elements 114 and 116.
A team made up of Russian and U.S. scientists discovered the new elements by smashing atoms of calcium with atoms of plutonium and curium (a process known as cross-bombardment) to create 114 and 116 respectively. Unlike most naturally occurring elements, artificially made elements (also known as transuranium elements) are radioactive and break down extremely quickly. Neither new element exists for more than a few seconds before decaying.
The next step for the new elements will be the assignment of permanent names. The discovering scientists will have the privilege of choosing the new monikers and immortalizing their finds, which will end in “-ium”, for a new generation of chemistry students.
Learn more by checking out the following titles from the Springfield-Greene County Library:
- The Ingredients: A Guided Tour of the Elements by Paul Strathern
- Essential Elements: Atoms, Quarks, and the Periodic Table by Matt Tweed
- A Well-Ordered Thing: Dmitrii Mendeleev and the Shadow of the Periodic Table by Michael D. Gordin
- The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray
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