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Element 112 (copernicium, ununbium)

The discoverors at GSIThe discoverors at GSI
Darmstadt, June 10, 2009

The new element 112 discovered by GSI has been officially recognized and will be named by the Darmstadt group in due course. Their suggestion should be made public over this summer.

The element 112, discovered at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung (Centre for Heavy Ion Research) in Darmstadt, has been officially recognized as a new element by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). IUPAC confirmed the recognition of element 112 in an official letter to the head of the discovering team, Professor Sigurd Hofmann. The letter furthermore asks the discoverers to propose a name for the new element. Their suggestion will be submitted within the next weeks. In about 6 months, after the proposed name has been thoroughly assessed by IUPAC, the element will receive its official name. The new element is approximately 277 times heavier than hydrogen, making it the heaviest element in the periodic table.

“We are delighted that now the sixth element – and thus all of the elements discovered at GSI during the past 30 years – has been officially recognized. During the next few weeks, the scientists of the discovering team will deliberate on a name for the new element”, says Sigurd Hofmann. 21 scientists from Germany, Finland, Russia and Slovakia were involved in the experiments around the discovery of the new element 112.

Since 1981, GSI accelerator experiments have yielded the discovery of six chemical elements, which carry the atomic numbers 107 to 112. GSI has already named their officially recognized elements 107 to 111: element 107 is called Bohrium, element 108 Hassium, element 109 Meitnerium, element 110 Darmstadtium, and element 111 is named Roentgenium.

Popularity Wordle

Popularity WordleThis picture is a wordle. This shows the chemical elements in proportion to pages viewed for each on the WebElements periodic table web site. Hydrogen is the most viewed element. The question is, I suppose, is whether any useful information is conveyed? You can see this wordle and others here: Wordle: Chemical elements popularity

Periodic Table Wordle

Popularity WordlePopularity Wordle
This picture is a wordle. This shows the chemical elements in proportion to pages viewed for each on the WebElements periodic table web site. Hydrogen is the most viewed element. The question is, I suppose, is whether any useful information is conveyed? You can see this wordle and others at wordle.net

WebElements new version

I have restructured WebElements. The restructuring is all style at the front-end and reorganisation at the back-end, meaning all the errors in data are still there but they are displayed more beautifully and efficiently. Fixing some of those errors is now a priority.

All this should allow me to update content far more easily than has been the case, meaning things should move quicker. The database is now far simpler and hopefully the addresses like http://www.webelements.com/hydrogen/ far more helpful. I would say the new site is now "beta" meaning it is largely functional but expect glitches for a little while. I have not updated the "scholar" version but will do so if there seems to be a demand. Following this restructuring there are a number of features I am now in a position to implement and this will happen over the next few weeks/months.

Quite significant numbers of you are using the site via iPhones so I am tempted to produce a version for that sort of screen size

Please do let me know by adding comments here if there are features you would like to see.

Hydrogen cars some time off yet

Many agree that replacing conventional petrol driven cars with hydrogen is a good idea provided the hydrogen does not originate in a process involving oil as the only product from hydrogen burning is water, rather than carbon dioxide.

However the road to hydrogen-powered vehicles will not be easy, industry experts state. Representatives of European and American car and energy companies at the National Hydrogen Association convention said hydrogen technology is feasible, but faces big challenges to become commercially viable.

"We all have our homework to do in the coming years," said Klaus Bonhof, manager of the alternative fuels division of DaimlerChrysler AG. "We must produce technology viable in volume, and that technology must be commercially applicable."

Several car compnaies had hydrogen-powered vehicles on display at the conference, but all have similar technological challenges, including costs that range up to a million dollars a piece and limited range on a hydrogen fill-up. While a hydrogen-pwered car can travel 45 to 50 miles on a gallon, the fuel tank only provide a range of 125 to 150 miles. This is because hydrogen is put in a car as a liquid at very low temperatures, but reverts to a gas as on warming. The gas produced has to be vented while the car is not being used so that after a few days the tank will be empty.

The industry is working on this and BMW vice president of clean technology Frank Ochmann said BMW is testing an insulated tank that would keep hydrogen cold and liquid. "If you put in this tank a snowman, it would take about thirteen years to melt down," he said.

Developing hydrogen fuel station is easy part, experts said as hydrogen is already shipped to industrial users in tanks or moved through pipelines. BMW estimates it will be 2025 before hydrogen powered vehicles are commonly produced and sold.

Hydrogen oxygen alloy

Researchers at the Carnegie Institution of Washington (Washington DC, USA) have managed to make a remarkable alloy of hydrogen and oxygen from water! They used X-rays to dissociate water at high pressure to form a solid mixture, that is, an alloy, of molecular oxygen (O2) and molecular hydrogen (H2).

The researchers placed some water under an extremely high pressure, about 170,000 atmospheres (17 Gigapascals), using a diamond anvil and then beamed high-energy X-rays at the water. Nearly all the water molecules split and reformed as a solid alloy of O2 and H2. The X-rays are key to cleaving the O—H bonds in water. Without it, the water remains as a high-pressure form of ice known as ice VII. Ice VII is one of at least 15 kinds of ice that exist under various high pressure and variable temperature conditions.

Russell Hemley of the Carnegie Institution of Washington said "we managed to hit on just the right level of X-ray energy input. Any higher, and the radiation tends to pass right through the sample. Any lower, and the radiation is largely absorbed by the diamonds in our pressure apparatus."

The researchers subjected the alloy to a range of pressures and temperatures, and also bombardment with X-ray and laser radiation. Provided the alloy is kept at about 10,000 times atmospheric pressure at sea level (1 Gigapascal), it withstands the treatment. Although clearly a crystalline solid, more experiments are needed to determine the alloy's precise crystal structure.

"The new radiation chemistry at high pressure was surprising," said Wendy Mao of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the USA. "The new alloy containing the incompatible oxygen and hydrogen molecules will be a highly energetic material." An explosive alloy!

Deadly poison hydrogen sulfide induces suspended animation

Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (USA) have announced that hydrogen sulfide (sulphide) gas, H2S, can induce a state of suspended animation in mice while maintaining normal blood pressure. It is hoped that this result eventually will help in the treatment critically-ill patients. This result was presented at the American Physiological Society conference, "Comparative Physiology 2006: Integrating Diversity," in Virginia Beach, Virginai, USA, October 2006.

Hydrogen sulfide (sulphide) gas, sometimes called sewer gas, produces a noxious odour often described as a rotten egg smell. This highly toxic gas occurs naturally in swamps, some springs, and volcanoes.

The researchers administered 80 parts per million of H2S gas to their and found that their:

  • heart rate fell from 500 beats per minute to 200 beats per minute
  • respiration rate decreased from 120 breaths to 25 breaths per minute
  • core body temperature fell from 38° C to 30° C
  • activity level fell dramatically, moving only when the researchers touched them or shook their chambers

After the mice returned to breathing normal air they quickly returned to normal. Normally, as oxygen consumption goes down and heart rate decreases, blood pressure decreases also. Since the heart rate of the mice fell by more than 50%, the researchers expected blood pressure to fall, but it didn't.

"These findings demonstrate that mice that breathe 80 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide become hypothermic and decrease their respiration rate, heart rate and cardiac output without affecting stroke volume or mean arterial pressure," the authors said. This line of research could have a variety of helpful applications, including sustaining the function of organs of critically ill people, Ichinose said. It may also be possible to use the finding for patients undergoing surgery. This would be an advance, because anesthesia usually causes blood pressure to drop.

Manganese blocks hydrogen sulphide in water systems

Trace amounts of manganese is essential to human health. Now, a team of scientists from the University of Delaware, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of Hawaii, and Oregon Health and Science University has found that a dissolved form of manganese, Mn(III), is important in waterways such as the Black Sea and Chesapeake Bay. It can keep toxic hydrogen sulfide (sulphide) zones in check.1

The research is based on research conducted in 2003 that explored the chemistry of the Black Sea. Nearly 90% of the mile-deep system is a no-oxygen "dead zone," containing large amounts of naturally produced hydrogen sulfide (sulphide), which is lethal to most marine life. Only specialized microbes can survive in this underwater region.

Above this "dead zone" in the Black Sea lies another aquatic layer, the "suboxic zone,". This has both minimal amounts of oxygen and minimal amounts of hydrogen sulfide. This layer may be up to 40 metres (130 feet) deep in the Black Sea, but only 4 metres (13 feet) deep in the Chesapeake Bay.

The research team found that a chemical form of dissolved manganese, Mn(III), can maintain the existence of the suboxic zone by reacting as a reductant with oxygen and as an oxidant with hydrogen sulfide, preventing deadly hydrogen sulfide from reaching the surface layer of water, which is where most fish, algae and microscopic plants live. The scientists used an electrochemical analyzer to locate and map the chemistry of the suboxic zone in real time under changing salinity, temperature and depth.

The finding is surprising, George Luther (Delaware) said, because dissolved manganese as Mn(III) was assumed not to form in the environment and thus was largely ignored by scientists. The research team conclude that "Manganese in natural oxygen-poor waters can persist in a +3 oxidation state, a state previously seen only in the lab, necessitating a major revision of the current understanding of manganese aqueous geochemistry".

"Now we've learned that this form of dissolved manganese [Mn(III)] can constitute almost all the dissolved manganese in suboxic water columns and can react with hydrogen sulfide and other compounds that only solid manganese(IV) phases were thought to be doing," Luther noted. "It is also more reactive than the solid phases."

"Our research shows that the impact of dissolved manganese(III) is significant in any aquatic environment, including lakes, plus sediments on the seafloor and soils on land," Luther said. "And for the public who live near the water, dissolved manganese(III) actually helps prevent naturally occurring hydrogen sulfide from getting to the surface, so it prevents both fish kills and the foul odours from this compound's telltale 'rotten egg' smell."

Royal Society gives access to 340 years of landmark science

The complete archive of the Royal Society journals, including some of the most significant scientific papers ever published since 1665, is to be made freely available electronically for the first time until 2007.

The archive contains seminal research papers including accounts of Michael Faraday's groundbreaking series of electrical experiments, Isaac Newton's invention of the reflecting telescope, and the first research paper published by Stephen Hawking.

The Society's online collection, which until now only extended back to 1997, contains every paper published in the Royal Society journals from the first ever peer-reviewed scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions in 1665, to the most recent addition, Interface.

You can register for free. So now, for a time at least, you can read free of charge some extraordinary historical documents. Here are a few examples:

  • On the Constitution of the Atmosphere by John Dalton
  • On the Action of Radium Emanations on Diamond by William Crookes
  • The Separation of the Most Volatile Gases from Air without Liquefaction by James Dewar
  • On the Compressibilities of Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Carbonic Oxide between One Atmosphere and Half an Atmosphere of Pressure, and on the Atomic Weights of the Elements Concerned.--Preliminary Notice by Lord Rayleigh

Note: this facility seems to have been withdrawn?

First Genesis Spacecraft Samples Shipped to Researchers

Scientists at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston have shipped pieces of the Genesis polished aluminium collector to researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, marking the first distribution of a Genesis scientific sample from JSC since the science canister arrived there Oct. 4, 2004. The sample, the first to be allocated for Genesis early science analysis, may hold important evidence about the overall composition of the sun.

While much of the solar wind is hydrogen, it is hoped that Genesis captured samples of many elements in the periodic table. An analysis of these elements will help to determine the sun's composition in detail. Several important Genesis science objectives will be investigated as part of the Early Science Return, including studies of noble gas isotopes in bulk solar wind and nitrogen isotopes.

WebElements: the periodic table on the WWW [http://www.webelements.com/]

Copyright 1993-2015 Mark Winter [The University of Sheffield and WebElements Ltd, UK]. All rights reserved.