Radio Freethinker

Vancouver's Number 1 Skeptical Podcast and Radio Show

Saturday Stub: The Periodic Table Lets a Few In

Posted by Ethan Clow on June 11, 2011

Like some over-crowded popular night club, the Periodic Table of Elements is a hard place to get into. You can wait in line for hours but unless that burly bouncer is satisfied you’re a real element and not some mixture, compound or subatomic particle, you aren’t getting far.

However, two lucky elements have managed it recently!

Known as Elements 114 and 116, they don’t have fancy names at the moment, my guess is that whatever they end up being called will end in “ium.” 114ium and 116ium both have incredibly short lives, only existing for seconds before rapidly disintegrating. They were created in labs in Livermore and Russia by smashing calcium ions into atoms of plutonium or another element, curium. The official report can be seen here.

They tried to make me memorize this in high school.

The Periodic Table came into use in 1896 by Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian chemist. Mendeleev wasn’t the first to make a table of elements of course, but what made his version popular amongst chemists was that he left room to add new elements as they were discovered. This cut down on re-writing a table every two or three years when a new element was discovered.

Just another great example of how science is constantly updating itself and changing as new evidence and discoveries are made.

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