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The quest for superheavies

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Science  01 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6426, pp. 466-470
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6426.466

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Summary

At a storied Russian lab, whose accelerators have produced nine new elements in the past half-century, researchers gear up to expand the periodic table once more. A $60 million facility will start to hunt for element 119, 120, or both, this spring. The new elements would extend the table—now seven rows deep—to an eighth row, where some theories predict exotic traits will emerge. Elements in that row might even destroy the table's very periodicity because chemical and physical properties might not repeat at regular intervals anymore. Pushing further into the eighth row could also answer questions that scientists have wrestled with since Dmitri Mendeleev's day: How many elements exist? And how far does the table go?

  • * Sam Kean is a science journalist in Washington, D.C.