Approaching the island of stability
Smashing together the elements calcium-48, with 20 protons, and berkelium-249, with 97, has produced superheavy atoms containing 117 protons, albeit for a tiny sliver of a second (SN: 4/24/10, p. 15). Temporarily known as ununseptium, the new element fills an empty spot in the periodic table between the previously discovered elements 116 and 118.
Down at spot 112 on the periodic table, an element first produced in 1996 by German scientists now has a name: copernicium, for the 16th century astronomer Copernicus (SN: 3/27/10, p. 13).
There are also six new isotopes of existing heavy elements, produced as researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California monitored the radioactive decay of element 114 (SN: 11/20/10, p. 12). While not as dramatic as an entirely new