The periodic table might get a new addition. Scientists in Germany say they have replicated a decade-old Russian experiment that created dozens of short-lived atoms with 115 protons.
Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor
Scientists say they've created a handful of atoms of the elusive element 115, which occupies a mysterious corner of the periodic table.
The super-heavy element has yet to be officially named, but it is temporarily called ununpentium, roughly based on the Latin and Greek words for the digits in its atomic number, 115.
The atomic number is the number of protons an element contains. The heaviest element commonly found in nature is uranium, which has 92 protons, but scientists can load even more protons into an atomic nucleus and make heavier elements through nuclear fusion reactions. [Wacky Physics: The Coolest Little Particles in Nature]
Scientists hope that by creating heavier and heavier elements, they will find a theoretical "island of stability," an undiscovered region in the periodic table where stable super-heavy elements with as yet unimagined practical uses might exist.