Specifically, the Periodic Table of Elements. Please join WC in welcoming Nihonium, Moscovium, Tennessine and Oganesson, elements 113, 115, 117, and 118.
Nihonium, will abbreviated Nh, and was submitted by Japanese researchers. The name comes from ‘Nihon,’ the Japanese word for Japan. Moscovium (Mc) and Tennessine (Ts) were named by a team of scientists from Russia and the U.S., while Oganesson (Og) was named for nuclear physicist and prolific element discoverer, Yuri Oganessian, by the Russian team that discovered the element.
Some of these elements were synthesized as far back as 2005, but the international regulatory agencies in charge or recognizing and naming elements, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) don’t exactly hurry.
When WC studied physical chemistry, there were just 99 elements, the most recent being Californium. WC’s physical chemistry professor, Don Swinehart, was dubious about synthesized elements, and argued that with a half-life of only 898 years, it might better be called an “unstable element.” Of course, Prof. Swinehart also called his fellow Chemistry professor, John Froines, an “unstable element,” so it’s hard to be certain exactly what he meant.
New element Oganesson is synthesized by by bombarding Californium with Calcium nuclei. A total of four (4) atoms have been created. And the element has a half life of a little less than a millisecond. You have to wonder what Prof. Swinehart woud think of that.
What’s especially interesting about Oganesson is that it should be a noble gas, like a very, very heavy version of Helium. Noble gases famously don’t react with other elements. Although if Oganesson were going to react with something, it would have to hurry. If all the Oganesson in the world were in one place, it would decay to oher elements in a few milliseconds. But if it is a noble gas, then its closest cousin would be Radon, the radioactive gas produced by the decay of uranium present in some rocks. Like the bedrock around Fairbanks.
It’s not at all clear whether there will be any more. Chemistry knows a lot about what Element 119 should be like – an alkalai, starting the 8th period or row. It has a working name, Unennium, or more formally eka-francium. But it remains undiscovered, despite some very energetic (sorry) attempts to synthesize it. It was though bombarding Berkelium with Titanium might do it, but no one has reported success so far.
In the mean time, join WC in welcoming Oganesson, as well as Nihonium, Tennessine and Moscovium, to the Periodic Table of Elements.