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| Human World on Jun 14, 2012

Two new elements

Two new elements – flerovium and livermorium – brings the total number of elements on the periodic table to 118.

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On May 31, 2012, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) approved the addition of flerovium and livermorium to the periodic table of elements.

The two new elements were discovered during collaborative research carried out by scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia. An official announcement describing the two new elements will be published in the July 2012 issue of the IUPAC journal, Pure and Applied Chemistry.

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Flerovium (atomic symbol Fl) is an element with an atomic number of 114 and an atomic weight of 289. The new element was named after Georgiy N. Flerov (1913 – 1990), a renowned physicist who founded the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia.

Livermorium (atomic symbol Lv) is an element with an atomic number of 116 and an atomic weight of 293. The new element was named in honor of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, USA.

Image Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The addition of flerovium and livermorium brings the total to 118 elements listed on the periodic table. But not all of these elements have been proven to exist with the rigor that the scientific process demands.

The IUPAC reviews and confirms the reported discovery of new elements then, approves the proposed names for new elements. The confirmation and approval process usually entails a few years of repeated experimentation in independent laboratories to verify the results of the discovery of a new element. As of May 31, 2012 the IUPAC has confirmed and approved the names for 114 elements (Here’s the official IUPAC periodic table). Scientists have reported discoveries for other elements, but these results have not yet been confirmed.

Bill Goldstein, associate director of the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, commented on the new names in a press release. He said:

These names honor not only the individual contributions of scientists from these laboratories to the fields of nuclear science, heavy element research, and superheavy element research, but also the phenomenal cooperation and collaboration that has occurred between scientists in these two countries.

Flerovium and livermorium are both synthetic radioactive elements that do not occur naturally on Earth. The scientists were able to create and observe the elements in a laboratory by bombarding curium (96 protons) with calcium ions (20 protons). When curium was combined with calcium, livermorium (116 protons) was produced for a brief moment before it decayed into flerovium and other more stable elements.

In another experiment, scientists were able to produce flerovium (114 protons) by bombarding plutonium (94 protons) with calcium ions (20 protons).

The IUPAC is an international scientific organization that works to advance the chemical sciences and the application of chemistry in the service of humanity. The IUPAC plays an instrumental role in validating the discovery of new elements by chemists. On May 31, 2012, the IUPAC approved the addition of flerovium and livermorium to the periodic table of elements.

Bottom line: On May 31, 2012, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) approved the addition of flerovium and livermorium to the periodic table of elements. The two new elements were discovered during collaborative research carried out by scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia. An official announcement describing the new names of the two elements will be published in the July 2012 issue of the IUPAC journal, Pure and Applied Chemistry.

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