A year ago, the team that reported the heaviest elements ever created in a laboratory admitted it had made a mistake. Now, it seems that the results were a fraud.
In 1999, Victor Ninov of Lawrence Berkeley (Calif.) National Laboratory and his colleagues claimed to have made the first atoms of elements 118 and 116. They had fired krypton ions into a lead target in an accelerator. Their finding of the novel atoms with relatively long lifetimes, hundreds of microseconds, did more than add two new elements to the periodic table. The results lent support to a theory that some even heavier elements–if they, too, could be made–would remain stable for years (SN: 6/12/99, p. 372: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc99/6_12_99/fob2.htm).
However, no one, not even the Berkeley team, could reproduce the findings. Worse, a reanalysis of the original data showed no evidence of either element 118 or its decay product, element 116. So, last August, Ninov's team retracted its c