Guest post by Andrew Grant
Atoms jam-packed with 117 protons have been produced at a particle collider in Germany, confirming the discovery of a new element.
An international team of researchers produced the superheavy element by firing a beam of calcium atoms (20 protons, 28 neutrons) at a target of radioactive berkelium (97 protons, 152 neutrons). At least some of the atomic nuclei fused and shed a few neutrons to form short-lived atoms containing 117 protons and 177 neutrons. The May 1 study in Physical Review Letters confirms the 2010 discovery of the element.
Now that element 117 is confirmed, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry needs to give it a name. For now, we’re stuck with ununseptium.