New superheavy element announced

A new, superheavy element will likely be added to the pantheon of known elements. Created in a lab, and weighing in at 40% heavier than lead, element 117 is highly unstable and has a half-life of less than a second. Nevertheless, its fleeting existence in a lab will likely earn it a permanent place on the periodic table.

The periodic table contains both primordial (elements that have existed on Earth since the planet formed) and synthetic (manmade) elements. Element 117, also temporarily known as ununseptium, is a synthetic element. Despite its lesser atomic number, the announcement of element 117 follows that of element 118 (ununoctium), which was announced years before (and has a bit of a checkered past). Once these elements become approved members of the periodic table, they will be given proper elementy names by their discoverers.

Now, despite using the word “created” above, elements are not created, they are made, whether by nature or by man. We tend to use the term “created” rather loosely, but in terms of the biblical, the distinction between created and made is rather important. Created refers to the instantaneous act of bringing something into existence that did not exist before. Made refers to the process of fashioning something from pre-existing raw material, which takes time. Even the simplest element — primordial hydrogen, with just one proton and one electron — was fashioned over a period of time from pre-existing material. And elements 117 and 118, which took careful planning and execution in a lab, were effectively fashioned the same way.

2 thoughts on “New superheavy element announced

  1. I blame our educational system. Once schools dropped Latin, naming conventions — even in sci-fi — got pretty silly.

Comments are closed.