At the Heart of the Atom


What elements beyond uranium have been discovered?

Elements 113 to 118 have temporary names until the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry decides on the name. The number of atoms detected in the decays of elements 113-118 vary between a dozen down to even one! In the search for element 117 a total of 1019 Ca ions bombarded the Californium target and resulted in three atoms of element 117.

Elements up through Californium (98) have been produced in milligram or gram quantities. They have been used as target materials for the accelerators that bombard them with ions in the search for heavier elements. The estimated cost of producing enough Einsteinium (99) to be used as a target is $50 million!

An aerial view of CERN, just northwest of Geneva, Switzerland. The Large Hadron Collider ring covers 22.4 square miles (large circle in the photo). The smaller ring at the lower right, which is the Proton Synchotron that is used to accelerate protons that are then fed into the LHC, has a circumference of 2.7 square miles.

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