Sunday, October 22, 2006

Atomic buckshot: Contest to name newly discovered element #118

What do you get when you bang calcium together with californium, really really fast?

A new element, Number 118, that's what!

Experiments in 2002 and 2005 have been adjudged "for real" (as if anything in the atomic world is really real) and given a place on the Periodic Table to the not yet formally named element being referred to variously as ununoctium (Latin for "one-one-eight"), eka-radon, or just good ol' Number 118.

Ununoctium didn't stay around long, just a mere nine ten-thousandths of a second, but the presence for any length of time at all is all that is needed to qualify as "existing." Oh, I do loves me some quantum physics.

"One never knows what the application of the things you find may be," said Darleane Hoffman, a professor of chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, tossing out the example of plutonium-239, the key fissile ingredient in atomic bombs, first created in 1941, the Washington Post reported last week.

Nature, without the help of man, has only given us 92 elements of which the universe is composed. The 26 newer elements are the results of lab experiments, and usually are of only a fleeting state of existence.

When the calcium and californium smacked into each other, they transformed into the new Element 118, which them rapidly threw off a pair of protons and a pair of neutrons to make element 116, then did so again to make element 114, and again to make element 112, which then split in two. Nobody hangs around long up in the triple-digit neighborhood of the Period Chart.

Researchers are working on ways to make these elemental cameo appearances last a bit longer.

"We're nibbling away at the shores of the island of stability," said Livermore Laboratory's physicist Ken Moody.

See a real live Periodic Chart. It's interesting to note that the recent elements numbered 111 and above have names beginning with "unun." Why not name them after gods and goddesses, like we do planets and planetoids, or sell the naming rights to corporate sponsors, like we do stadiums and football bowl games?

Until they come up with a better method of naming these high-end elements, I hereby officially claim the unofficial rights to unofficially name the following numbered elements:

Element 111 — Widowssonium
Element 112 — Burningtapersacredfemium
Element 113 — Freemasonium
Element 114 — Ronbondsium
Element 115 — Grouchogandhium
Element 116 — Robertantonwilsonium
Element 117 — Dylanium
Element 118 — ???

As self-proclaimed unofficial Namer of the High-Numbered Elements, I'm leaving Number 118 unnamed for the moment, while we take suggestions. Please post your ideas in the comments section. What should be the name of Element Number 118?

Thanks and an aluminum foil hat tip to GrouchoGandhi's Greatest Week in History for digging up this story last week.

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  1. I like dandgannium. Explosive as these two elements were upon their first crash, i'm afraid it's not a new discovery, been around about a year now. Please don't discount the magnitude of their great bang.

  2. Ooooh cooool. As I've been told by my sources, Element 115, Grouchogandhium, generates the gravity field for "Space-Time Compression" which powers our reversed-engineered UFOs. Our Secret Masters received 225 kilos of Grouchogandhium from our Reticulan EBE friends back in the late 1970s.

  3. This is so funny. Thanks for the laugh. I am still 'ROFL'!!

    My entry for the naming of the element is 'liberariannium.'

    Thanks again for a highlight of my day...

    D. Martyn Lloyd-Morgan
    The Liberty Sphere

  4. If it were me, I'd pick "fritjofcaprium," but then I'd rather save that for element No. 142.

    The Tao of Masonry

  5. how about Mostworshipfulelementof the grand pontiffof the southernjurisdictionanium?
    nothing could refute it and maybe we could give it the elemenatl number of 33 and move that element up to 114?


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