Nature's Sudoku Nearly Complete -- Scientists Have Filled The Seventh Row Of The Periodic Table

Sandra Hajda

Every science textbook in the world may now need to be updated, according to the Guardian: four new super-heavy chemical elements were discovered by scientists in Russia, America and Japan last year. On December 30, 2015, the new elements were verified by experts at the U.S.-based International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, the global organization that governs chemical nomenclature, terminology and measurement.

The elements have been formally added to the table, just in time for a new year of schooling that will need to incorporate a revised chemistry curriculum.

Professor Jan Reedijk, the leader of the Inorganic Chemistry Division of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, spoke to reporters about the "cherished table" and the excitement of researchers who have been part of this update.

"The chemistry community is eager to see its most cherished table finally being completed down to the seventh row.

"IUPAC has now initiated the process of formalising names and symbols for these elements temporarily named as ununtrium, (Uut or element 113), ununpentium (Uup, element 115), ununseptium (Uus, element 117), and ununoctium (Uuo, element 118)."

"IUPAC has now initiated the process of formalising names and symbols for these elements temporarily named as ununtrium, (Uut or element 113), ununpentium (Uup, element 115), ununseptium (Uus, element 117), and ununoctium (Uuo, element 118)."

A team led by Kosuke Morita was awarded the right to name the element from International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). They successfully created the synthetic element three times from 2004 to 2012. The scientists slammed lighter nuclei into each other and tracked the decay of the radioactive superheavy elements. They were able in three cases to detect and document the presence of Ununtrium, which is highly unstable and only exists for fractions of a second before decaying into other elements.

Russian and U.S. scientists working together had won the naming rights for the three other elements: ununpentium (Uup, element 115), ununseptium (Uus, element 117), and ununoctium (Uuo, element 118).

"IUPAC has announced that Morita's group will be given priority for the discovery of the new element, a privilege that includes the right to propose a name for it. Several studies published from 2004 to 2012 have been construed as sufficient to ratify the discovery and priority."

The decision was ultimately made to grant that discovery to the Japanese team, who must have made the discovery simultaneously, and documented it more thoroughly.

The exact reasons for IUPAC's decision to award 113 to the Japanese team should become clear in 2016 when the details of the research are released.

Dawn Shaughnessy, who leads the Livermore group in California, said that being recognized for three of the four new discoveries was enough of an honor.

"I'm personally very happy with IUPAC's decision."

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