NY Times reports a team of Russian and American physicists has discovered a heavy new element. For the moment, the discovery will be known as ununseptium, a Latinate placeholder that refers to the element's atomic number (117). The element was manufactured in a particle accelerator by smashing together isotopes of calcium and a radioactive element called berkelium.
The element, still nameless, appears to point the way toward a brew of still more massive elements with chemical properties no one can predict.
The team produced six atoms of the element by smashing together isotopes of calcium and a radioactive element called berkelium in a particle accelerator about 75 miles north of Moscow on the Volga River, according to a paper that has been accepted for publication at the journal Physical Review Letters.
Data collected by the team seem to support what theorists have long suspected: that as newly created elements become heavier and heavier they will eventually become much more stable and longer-lived than the fleeting bits of artificially produced matter seen so far.