Four new elements join the periodic table

Update: The new elements of the periodic table have been christened, so it’s time to get memorising. Completing the seventh row are Nihonium (Nh), Miscovium (Mc), Tennessine (Ts) and Oganesson (Og).

Four new elements join the periodic table

Each discoverer gets to name the new elements, and this batch are themed on places: Nihonium refers to Nihon – the Japanese word for Japan, while Moscovium is a reference to Moscow, where it was disovered. Tennessine is – you guessed it – the state of Tenessee, where Oak Ridge National Laboratory is.

Breaking the geographical theme is Oganesson, named after the academic who led the research for the element and others, Yuri Oganessian.

The original article continues below.

Do you pride yourself on having memorised the entire periodic table? Probably not, but if that does describe you, then I have some good or bad news depending on how much you enjoyed reaching this point in the first place. The periodic table of elements has now swelled to a whopping 118 elements, thanks to four new kids on the block. Say hello to ununtrium, ununpentium, ununseptium and ununoctium, which occupy numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118 of the new-look chart.

Stop memorising those names: they’re just placeholders. The new elements will be given titles over the next few months – 115, 117 and 118 were discovered by a team from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia and Lawrence Livermore National laboratory in California, but 113 was credited to the Riken institute in Japan, meaning it will be the first element to be christened in Asia. There are rules regarding naming conventions, with

The Guardian explaining that any new element should be “named after a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or scientist”.periodic_table_2016

All four are man-made superheavy elements, created by pushing lighter nuclei into one another and monitoring the decay of the resultant radioactive elements. It means that each one – like their new neighbours at the end of the table – only exist for split seconds before decaying into other elements. Visually, this means that the whole chart looks a lot neater, with the seventh row now including 18 elements, like the three rows above it. It is the first time the chart has been updated since 2011.

Getting new elements officially recognised as part of the periodic table is no mean feat: these elements were discovered between 2003 and 2008, but required verification from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Ryoji Noyori, the former president of Riken told The Guardian that, to scientists, getting an element on the periodic table is “of greater value than an Olympic gold medal”. Au, that’s cute*.

Congratulations to both teams, and we look forward to learning the names of four new elements when they’re finally christened.

*Yes, I did just make a chemical symbol pun. Indulge me.

READ NEXT: Meet the computer that runs on water droplets.

Images: Sandbh and Brian Cantoni used under Creative Commons

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