Chapter 7

Extending the Table, Expanding The Cold War

By Sam Miller

Synopsis

In the midst of 1950's America, the University of California at Berkeley was on a streak of creating ever heavier elements. Al Ghiorso and Glenn Seaborg were the heavy element hunters, discovering five elements in the USA uncontested, including berkelium, californium, mendelevium, nobelium, and lawrencium (Chapter 7, pg. 62-65). Meanwhile in Russia, an aspiring Georgy Flyorov was entrusted with a lab where he could do his own work on discovering new elements (Chapter 7, pg. 67). Before Flyorov, Russia didn't appreciate scientists. The government had no problem throwing scientists into nickel mines (Chapter 7, pg. 66). After Flyorov, scientists began getting more respect, and science flourished. Russia is actually where the idea of putting fluorine ions in tap water originated (Chapter 7, pg. 65). The Berkley team had Flyorov beat to the new elements, until the tables turned at element 104. A competitive race to discover new elements exploded between the two labs (Chapter 7, pg. 65).


The race was on, and the labs were trying to validate their discoveries by naming the elements. It got out of hand by the discovery of elements 105 and 106: dubnium, and seaborgium. The labs only discovered the elements months apart. By consequence, the names of the elements were highly contested (Chapter 7, pg. 67). Eventually, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry had to step in and stop the conflict. Credit was shared, and official names were decided for elements 104 through 109. (Chapter 7, pg. 68). Soon enough, another team was in the race. Germans in Darmstadt discovered elements 110, 111, and 112, darmstadtium, roetgenium, and copernicium. Their streak didn't last long, as the Americans took Victor Ninov, one of the team's key chemists, from them (Chapter 7, pg. 69).


The Berkeley lab was riding on a high horse. It seemed as if Victor had led their team to two new elements: 116 and 118. The team's spirits fell when no other labs could replicate the experiment, though. Russia's team finally managed to make three atoms of element 118 and they were given the rights to choose the name (Chapter 7, pg. 70).

Element 9: Flourine

  • Atomic Mass: 18.998
  • Classification: Halogen
  • Period: 2
  • Group: 7a
  • Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p5


Because of its high reactiveness, fluorine doesn't exist in pure form in nature and wasn't successfully separated from its normal compounds until 1886 by Henri Moissan (Gagnon, 2016). To do this, Moissan electrolyzed a sample of hydrogen fluoride (HF) and gathered the hydrogen in a separate container to prevent reactions. Today, his same method of separating fluorine from hydrogen fluoride is used to isolate the element (Gagnon, 2016).


In nature, fluorine is relatively abundant and widespread. Even though it is widespread, the element is never found by itself. It is usually found in a bond with another calcium and fluorine atom (ClF2) (Withers, 2012). In society, fluorine is found in city provided drinking water to improve tooth health. It is also found in toothpaste bonded with other elements such as tin (SnF2) and sodium (NaF) (Gagnon, 2016).


Fluorine, named after fluere, the Latin root for flow, is the most electronegative element on the periodic table, making it one of the most reactive elements existing. It is also extremely toxic and corrosive, making it quite dangerous (Stuart, 2016).

Element 28: Nickel

  • Atomic Mass: 58.69
  • Classification: Transition Metal
  • Period: 4
  • Group: 8b
  • Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d8


Nickel was first discovered by Axel Fredrik, a Swedish chemist, when he was looking at the mineral niccolite (NiAs). While the element was discovered in Sweden, most of the world's supply of nickel comes from Ontario, Canada in the form of nickel pentlandite (NiS 2FeS) (Gagnon, 2016). Today, the element is mainly used for its corrosion resistant properties. Nickel is most commonly combined with other metals to produce a more hardy alloy. Nickel is also well known for being pressed into currencies, like the USA's nickel (Gagnon, 2016). Nickel is also very ductile; just one kilogram of the element can be stretched into 300 kilometers of wire. The element is strangely named after the German word Nickel, which translates into "Old Nick," another name for the devil (Gagnon, 2016).

Element 97: Berkelium

  • Atomic Mass: 247.0
  • Classification: Rare Earth
  • Period: 7
  • Group: 8c
  • Electron Configuration 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d10 5p6 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p6 7s2 5f9


Berkelium is a heavy metal discovered by Glenn Seaborg in 1949 in Berkeley, California. It was made by hitting an isotope of americium with alpha particles. Berkelium's namesake is the place it was discovered in: Berkeley California. Other than it being one of the first synthetic elements discovered, there is no real use for berkelium (Gagnon, 2016). It makes compounds such as berkelium chloride and berkelium dioxide, but these compounds have been found in such trace amounts that scientists can't find a viable use for the element, and not much is known about its properties. Berkelium's most stable isotope, berkelium-247, eventually decays into americium-243 (Gagnon, 2016).

Element 98: Californium

  • Atomic mass: 251.0
  • Classification: Rare Earth
  • Period: 7
  • Group: 9c
  • Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d10 5p6 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p6 7s2 5f10


Another element discovered by Glenn Seaborg in Berkeley, California, Californium is named after the state and university of California, where the element was discovered (Gagnon, 2016). The heavy metal was made by bombarding curium with alpha particles (Gagnon, 2016). Even though Californium can only be made in small amounts, it has a massive output of neutrons. Just one microgram of the element can put out 170,000 neutrons per minute. This trait gives californium a viable use in finding gold, silver, and oil deposits underground (Gagnon, 2016). A few compounds of californium exist under lab conditions, including californium oxide and californium trichloride. Californium's most stable isotope, californium-251, has a half-life of 896 years and will decay into curium-247 (Gagnon, 2016).

Element 101: Mendelevium

  • Atomic Mass: 258.0
  • Classification: Rare Earth
  • Period: 7
  • Group: 12c
  • Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d10 5p6 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p6 7s2 5f13


Yet another element discovered by Glenn Seaborg in Berkeley, California, Mendelevium was discovered by hitting isotopes of einsteinium with helium ions (Gagnon, 2016). Mendelevium was named after the Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev (Gagnon, 2016). The element's most stable isotope, which has a half life of 51.5 days, is mendelevium-258. The isotope eventually decays into einsteinium-254. At the moment, because only trace amounts of mendelevium have been created, there are no known uses for the element, other than scientific research (Gagnon, 2016).

Element 102: Nobelium

  • Atomic Mass: 259.0
  • Classification: Rare Earth
  • Period: 7
  • Group: 13c
  • Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d10 5p6 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p6 7s2 5f14


Claimed by the Nobel Institute of Physics in Sweden by firing carbon-13 ions at a target of curium-246, the heavy metal is named after the dynamite inventing, Nobel prize founding Alfred Nobel (Gagnon, 2016). As no other labs could replicate the experiment done by the Nobel Institute, credit went to Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, who's work was confirmed by others. They decided to keep the name nobelium (Gagnon, 2016). Nobelium's most stable isotope is nobelium-259, which has a half-life of about 58 minutes. It decays into fermium-255 by releasing alpha particles. As of now, no uses beyond scientific research are known for nobelium. This is because only very small amounts of the element have been made under lab conditions (Gagnon, 2016).

Element 103: Lawrencium

  • Atomic Mass: 262.0
  • Classification: Rare Earth
  • Period: 7
  • Group: 14c
  • Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d10 5p6 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p6 7s2 5f14 6d1


Discovered in 1961 by Albert Ghiorsio in Berkeley, California, this heavy metal was named after the scientist Ernest Lawrence (Gagnon, 2016). The element was created by firing boron ions at a sample of californium. In its most stable isotope, lawrencium has a half life of about 4 hours. So little amounts of lawrencium have been created that no uses are known for the element. At the moment, the element's only use is for basic research (Gagnon, 2016).

Element 105: Dubnium

  • Atomic Mass: 262.0
  • Classification: Transition Metal
  • Period: 7
  • Group: 3b
  • Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d10 5p6 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p6 7s2 5f14 6d3


First claimed by a group of scientists in Dubna, Russia, then by Berkeley Laboratory, the credit for this heavy metal's discovery is still debated. The two labs used different methods for producing the element, making two different isotopes (Gagnon, 2016). Dubnium was named after the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia. In its most stable state, dubnium has a half life of about 32 hours. Due to its short half life and its minimal production, there are no current uses for the element (Gagnon, 2016).

Element 106: Seaborgium

  • Atomic Mass: 266.0
  • Classification: Transition Metal
  • Period: 7
  • Group: 4b
  • Electron Configuration (Unconfirmed): 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d10 5p6 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p6 7s2 5f14 6d4


Seaborgium was first discovered by Albert Ghiorsio in Berkeley, California, then claimed by a team in Dubna, Russia. in 1993, credit went to the Berkeley team, along with the rights to the name. The team chose to name the element after Glenn Seaborg (Gagnon, 2016). The element's most stable isotope is seaborgium-271, which has a half life of about 2.4 minutes. At the moment, there are no real uses for seaborgium beyond simple experimentation because of its short half life and the miniscule amounts created of the element (Gagnon, 2016).

Element 107: Bohrium

  • Atomic Mass: 264.0
  • Classification: Transition Metal
  • Period: 7
  • Group: 5b
  • Electron Configuration (Unconfirmed): 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d10 5p6 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p6 7s2 5f14 6d5


Named after the scientist Niels Bohr, bohrium was discovered by chemists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia. The element was created by firing isotopes of chromium at a target of bismuth-209 (Gagnon, 2016). The discovery was later confirmed by Peter Ambruster and his team working in Darmstadt, Germany. There are currently no uses for bohrium because only small amounts of the element have been created and because of the element's short half life (Gagnon, 2016).

Element 108: Hassium

  • Atomic Mass: 277.0
  • Classification: Transition Metal
  • Period: 7
  • Group: 6b
  • Electron Configuration (Unconfirmed): 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d10 5p6 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p6 7s2 5f14 6d6


Discovered by a team of chemists working in Darmstadt, Germany, hassium was made by hitting a target of lead-208 with atoms of iron-58. This process produced a few atoms of hassium-265 (Gagnon, 2016). Hasium was named by the Darmstadt team after the German state of Hessen, Hassias. Because of the small amounts of hassium that have been produced, no uses for the element are known. At the moment, hassium is only used for basic science research (Gagnon, 2016).

Element 110: Darmstadtium

  • Atomic Mass: 281.0
  • Classification: Unknown
  • Period: 7
  • Group: 8b
  • Electron Configuration (Unconfirmed): 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d10 5p6 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p6 7s2 5f14 6d8


Darmstadtium was discovered by Peter Armbruster and his team in Darmstadt, Germany. The atom was only created after firing about a billion billion atoms of nickel at a target of lead isotopes. Darmstadtium's name comes from the city of Darmstadt, where the element was discovered (Gagnon, 2016). There are currently no uses for darmstadtium because only a few atoms of the element have been created. The element is only used for simple scientific research (Gagnon, 2016).

Element 112: Copernicium

  • Atomic Mass: 285.0
  • Classification: Unknown
  • Period: 7
  • Group: 10b
  • Electron Configuration (Unconfirmed): 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 5s2 4d10 5p6 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p6 7s2 5f14 6d10


Copernicium, discovered by Peter Armbruster and a team of chemists in Darmstadtium, Germany, is named after the mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus. The team wanted the atomic symbol to be Cp, but their request was turned down because the symbol was being used for lutetium, the backup name for cassiopeium (Gagnon, 2016). Copernicium's most stable isotope is copernicium-285, which has a half life of around 30 seconds. Currently, there are no uses for copernicium because of the element's short half life and the miniscule amounts created (Gagnon, 2016).

In Conclusion...

The cold war was a time of great tension between the USA and Russia, but the war wasn't all about nuclear weapons. The countries raced each other to everything, especially scientific discoveries. This high competition environment set scientists up for great advancements in their field, whether it was astrophysics or chemistry. The newly discovered elements added nearly a whole new row of elements to the periodic table. The scientists pushed the boundaries of what we knew we could do, and broke the walls of the periodic table, changing the way we think of chemistry today.

References

Gagnon, Steve (9 January, 2016). The Periodic Table of the Elements. Retrieved from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/


Kean, Sam (July, 2010). The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements. Retrieved from https://ia802704.us.archive.org/18/items/pdfy-vyvZm-cBnifFmcZQ/The%20Disappearing%20Spoon%20And%20Other%20True%20Tales%20Of%20Madness,%20Love%20And%20The%20History%20Of%20The%20World.pdf


Stuart, Doug (11 January, 2016). Fluorine Element Facts. Retrieved from http://www.chemicool.com/elements/fluorine.html


Withers, Steve (11 July, 2012). Fluorine finally found in nature. Retrieved from http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2012/07/fluorine-finally-found-nature