New Element ConfirmedCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 29, 2013 09:04AM
The word atom is derived from the Greek would for 'indivisible,' because at the time John Dalton developed atomic theory, he believed they were the simplest building blocks of the Universe. We now know that atoms are made of still smaller particles, and one of the best examples of this knowledge is when we create a new element. A team of researchers, led by those at Lund University, have recently confirmed the discovery of element 115.
What elements we can find in the Earth today can be traced back to the nuclear fusion occurring within the core of a star. To create more elements can require even more exotic situations. In this case the recipe involves firing calcium atoms at a film of americium, which is itself a man-made element. The results of this procedure include the release of X-ray photons, which can be used to identify the decaying atomic nucleus they came from. In this case, the energy levels are consistent with a nucleus of 115 radioactively decaying.
Before the new element can be officially added to the Period Table of Elements, or even named, a committee of physicists and chemists will have to decide if the current evidence is enough to prove the element's creation. Even if the committee does not acknowledge the element at this time, the Lund researchers have gained new insight into the nuclear physics of super-heavy atoms.
Source: Lund University