So we’ve a new element! Good old 115. So fresh, it’s still got its placeholder name: ununpentium. The news has already been broken for a few days now, so here’s what some old-fashioned thinking on the topic has come up with.
Odd facts related to #115
- We’ll start easy: 115 of course refers to it’s place in the periodic table, not order of discovery.
- It’s only maybe the 115th element we’ve discovered, chronologically.
- It could maybe be the 116th, depending if you trust the as-yet unverified but previous discovery claim for #113 (yep, we officially verified #115 before #113).
- Or maybe it’s the 117th (#117 on the table also has a prior claim in play).
Wait, what, we’re looking for ’em out of order?
- It’s not quite like Looper, Periodic Table Edition, but sort of. Some elements are more stable and easier to make, so you find them first. Also the IUPAC (the guys who confirm discoveries), are particular sticklers for replication by other labs, as they should be, so sometimes you’ve got to wait for backup.
- The new #115 for example, actually had a claim made on it a decade ago before being replicated now (fun fact: that claim was by the #114 folks).
- Researchers get really territorial about these claims, particularly if they feel they’re snubbed. Go read the Wiki edits for #113. Downton Abbey‘s got nothing on that drama.
What are we really gonna call it?
- The last 3 synthetic elements were eventually named after the lab that discovered them (#114 Flerovium, #116 Livermorium) or for a scientist (#112 Copernicium).
- So I’m putting my money on Helmholtzium, for its discovery at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research.
- For the record, I’d also be ok with Twerkium.
What could we do with it?
- It only exists for fractions of a second before it decays. (I can’t immediately find how long it stayed #115 before decaying into other elements, but it’s probably not too different than the other elements around it. So a few hundred milliseconds?)
- We can hold antimatter – frickin’ antimatter – for a hundred thousand times longer than we can hold #115 (current number I found is about 20 minutes).
- So…I dunno?
- Some kind of disappearing magic trick?
- Side note: An non-exhaustive Wikipedia search (so take it how you will) seems to show Californium (element #98) as the highest synthetic element with a non-fundamental-research use.