A new element, 117, known as Ununseptium, will be added on the Periodic Table at the next meeting of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. This super-heavy element was first created in 2010 by a joint team of scientists from the United States and Russia. Now, another team of scientists at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt near Mainz, Germany, has recreated Ununseptium. The atomic number 117 is derived from the number of protons in the atom′s nucleus. Ununseptium, which literally translates to 1-1-7, was created by smashing two other atoms, Berkelium 97 with Calcium ions 20. Like most super-heavy elements, Ununseptium is artificial only remains stable for a few seconds at best. However, according to a paper published in the journal, the Physical Review Letters, scientists believe that Element 117 may hold the key to achieving an ′Island of Stability′, allowing such super-heavy elements to last for longer periods of time, if not indefinitely.

Element 117

So, will Element 117 lead to the creation of a better brand of toothpaste? Soft drink? Pantyhose? Probably not. But such basic research often leads us into new products and technology never before imagined. In the late 19th Century, many scientists believed that all that could be known about Nature and the Universe had been discovered. Then, a whole new world opened up with the discovery of radium. This brought about goodies like X-ray machines, new medical treatments, luminous clocks, nuclear energy and the atomic bomb.

While it is hard to say what the new Element 117 will give humanity, it will soon be added to the Period Table. This sort of thing reminds me of the movie, Star Trek IV when Scotty gives the manager of a plastics company in the 1980s the molecular structure of transparent aluminum so Captain Kirk and his crew can take some humpback whales to the 24th Century. One thing is certain, though. Science never sleeps! The debate on any subject, be it Big Bang or Global Warming, is never over. There is always something new just around the corner. Who knows? Maybe Walter White can cook up some better meth with Element 117 added to his formula?