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Toward Stability, Heavyweight Style March 9, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in inventions, movies & TV, sci-fi, science, sense of wonder.
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One of those weird pursuits I had as a kid was naming new elements. And I assure you, even at 9 years old, I did better than “unobtainium.” (My favorite from other sources has to be the Rocky & Bullwinkle’s “upsadaisium.”) But in the real world there are a lot of elements found up in the super heavyweight division that have gone unnamed for a long time. Such is political infighting, I suspect. Stuff like Lawrencium and Fermium are easy calls. It gets harder after that since teams work on accelerators now, biiiig teams.

I was pleased to see that element 112 just got an official name.
Copernicium is a wonderful tribute. And a lot easier to say that Galileoium.

The periodic table says some of the heavier elements ought to be stable. What could they be used for? Super dense, inert? Shielding for a nano reactor? Are we talking nuclear reactors so small they’d fit into your cell phone? The notion of making heavier elements using lighter ones that mimic their structure
is fascinating. Is it possible to use this procedure to build far trans-uranic elements without the need of an accelerator?

What a science fair project this would make. I judged a fair years back where a kid promised me he had made buckyballs out of soot. He couldn’t tell me how he knew that smear of black had changed structure. He’s probably a Nobel candidate for his expertise in materials science now but he didn’t convince me. But maybe, if you can massage tungsten carbide into platinum, you could do the same with some other molecule to make…Copernicium. And beyond.

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