Two new elements are being added to the periodic table after being discovered through a collaboration between U.S. and Russian scientists. Paul Karol, a chemistry professor at Carnegie Mellon University, explained that "over the past 250 years, there have been basically 100 new elements discovered, but it is becoming more and more difficult to do this," making the two new finds very exciting.
Both new elements were found using atom-smasher experiments called cross-bombardments. The experiments smashed calcium together with plutonium to make the element currently known as 114, and calcium was smashed with curium for 116. The elements were first discovered in 2004 and 2006 respectively, but it took years to confirm them. The atom-smashing experiments allowed the elements to fuse and thus create samples that confirmed their existence.
The only thing left now is the naming process. "They have named things after geographic places, sometimes people, Greek gods," said Karol. "Actually, a community of strange people out in the world see a new element has been discovered and start sending their own suggestions." The only restriction is that the name must end in -ium. Karol further detailed the fun of the naming process, and said that, "I actually regretted not having kept a scrapbook of some of these. They can be weird, they can be politically incorrect. It is actually fun."
More information about the experiments can be found in research published by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
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