Element 115 Created In A Lab, Fills In Blank On Periodic Table

Llowell Williams - Author

Aug. 28 2013, Updated 1:28 p.m. ET

Element 115 was created in a laboratory this week, confirming its existence. Currently there are 117 spaces for elements on the periodic table. However, not all have been created or observed by scientists.

The successful creation of element 115 brings scientists closer to filling in the gaps, though. For those who haven’t been in chemistry class for a few years (or more), the numbers on the periodic table of elements list the number of protons found in an element’s nucleus.

Right now it is being dubbed as ununpentium, says CNN, but the name is merely a placeholder. It is derived from Latin and Greek, meaning “115.” Scientists say a more formal name will be given to element 115 if it officially approved to join the periodic table.

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Who gets to decide this? A coalition of scientists known as the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry is tasked with regulating the periodic table. Their officials plan to look over the data to decide if the evidence of ununpentium’s existence is strong enough to officially add it to the table.

The discovery was made by scientists from the Lund University in Sweden, reports CBS News. Through a complicated process, researchers were able to create the elusive element 115. This involved shooting calcium-48 ions into americium-243. This high-speed crash briefly produced ununpentium, which scientists were able to observe.

To be accurate, element 115 was first observed in a Russian laboratory in 2004. However, this recent re-creation of element 115 by Swedish researchers confirms the Russian scientists’ discovery. This means it could soon be on periodic tables all across the globe.

Though it is just a temporary name, element 115 could be ununpentium for many years. Element 106 kept its temporary name for 23 years before being officially given the name seaborgium.

Why did scientists have to create element 115 in a lab? Though trace elements of plutonium and neptunium have been found in nature, element 92, known as uranium, is the heaviest element found in nature. Everything with more protons has to be created artificially.

Scientists say that while elements like element 115 only exist in a momentary atomic flash, they hope to be able to create lasting elements in the near future.

[Image via ShutterStock]


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