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So it seems likely that this time next year, we’ll finally be able to induct these four new elements into the periodic table properly, and the seventh row of the periodic table will then be complete.
As they only exist for the merest fraction of a second, it’s hard to know much about these new elements.
We can’t even say for certain whether they’re solids, liquids, or gases at room temperature, since we can’t measure their melting or boiling points during the very short time frame for which they exist.
It’s not quite enough for the atoms to simply bash into each other; they must instead do so at an incredibly high speed.
In order to accomplish this, a particle accelerator is used, which accelerates ions to a speed of millions of miles per hour.
They, too, undergo radioactive decay fractions of a second after being produced, and this radioactive decay can be detected.
More often than not, the evidence for the creation of a new element is the tell-tale trail of elements it decays into shortly after its creation.
This is because they’re so heavy, and their huge mass and large number of electrons can lead to some weird, trend-bucking properties. Ununtrium, ununpentium, ununseptium and ununoctium are merely formulaic latin place-holders, added to the periodic table to stand in until proof of the elements’ existence was produced.
Now that this proof has been confirmed, the research teams that have been anointed as the official discoverers of the elements will be invited by IUPAC to suggest names and symbols, and we won’t have names for these new elements until their suggestions are vetted. Element naming actually follows a strict set of rules as of 2002, in the wake of squabbles between the USA and Russia over the naming of elements 104-109.
If you take even the slightest interest in chemistry news, you’ll probably already have heard about the official confirmation of the discovery of four new elements, which even achieved widespread coverage in mainstream news outlets.
IUPAC (the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) sneaked out the news just before New Year’s Eve without much prior warning, and without a great deal of fanfare, though some had already predicted that an announcement of the sort was imminent.