Monday, April 28, 2008

Stable Superheavy Element 122 Discovered in Nature?

By way of MSNBC's CosmicLog, an article on the physics arXiv blog:

But something else showed up too. An element with a weight of 292 and an atomic number of around 122. That’s an extraordinary claim and quite rightly the team has been diligent in attempting to exclude alternative explanations such as th epresence of exotic molecules formed from impurities in the thorium sample or from the hydrocarbon in oil used in the vacuum pumping equipment). But these have all been ruled out, say Marinov and his buddies.

What they’re left with is the discovery of the first superheavy element, probably number 122.

What do we know about 122? Marinov and co say it has a half life in excess of 100 million years and occurs with an abundance of between 1 and 10 x10^-12, relative to thorium, which is a fairly common element (about as abundant as lead).

Theorists have mapped out the superheavy periodic table and 122 would be a member of the superheavy actinide group. It even has a name: eka-thorium or unbibium. Welcome to our world!

The news is still preliminary, but it will be an interesting thing if confirmed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that they are still in doubt if atomic number is 122. They say it is probably 122. Number of neutrons seems too low for the 122 to be stable. Coud it be element 120, which is expected to be one of the heaviest in the island of stability?