back to article Japanese boffins unfurl banner above newly-discovered Element 113

Japanese scientists are chuffed to bits to announce that they have discovered the so-far undiscovered superheavy element with atomic number 113, and have staked a claim to naming it - and so joining the big leagues of element-finding boffinry nations. According to a statement issued by the Japanese research institute RIKEN: …


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  1. FartingHippo


    Or Sumonium, as it's a big fella.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Japan the first country in Asia to name an atomic element.

    Isn't Russia in Asia too?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Japan the first country in Asia to name an atomic element.

      Russia is everywhere - big place.

    2. Robert Helpmann??

      Re: Japan the first country in Asia to name an atomic element.

      Clearly physics, not geography, is what RIKEN is good at.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Japan the first country in Asia to name an atomic element.

        Insert obligatory iOS6 maps joke here.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Element 119 and beyond?

    What have they got against 115?

    1. David Pollard

      Re: Element 119 and beyond? Islands of stability ...

      What have they got against 115? It's rather what nature has got against them.

      It's necessary first to find a combination of neutrons and protons that will be sufficiently stable that it lasts long enough to be detected and then to find two isotopes which are available in sufficient quantities and at affordable price that can be combined to make it.

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Island on stability ...

        Where I read:

        > Such elements do not occur in nature and must be produced through accidents involving nuclear reactors.

        And got a picture of a deep sea fisherman on a beach somewhere east of Fukujimmy landing his next meal and realising it was already cooked.

      2. Dave the Cat
        Thumb Up

        Re: Element 119 and beyond? Islands of stability ...

        @ David Pollard,

        Thanks for the link, really interesting article. I don't pretend to understand half of it but interesting none-the-less. This is why I love el reg!


      3. Michael Strorm Silver badge

        Re: Element 119 and beyond? Islands of stability ...

        "and then to find two isotopes which are available in sufficient quantities and at affordable price that can be combined to make it."

        Given that this experiment involved firing zinc ions (element 30) at bismuth (element 83), am I safe in assuming that it was a simple case of 30 + 83 = 113 protons for the new element?

        And that if we wanted to create element 115 by firing zinc ions in the same way, then the other element used would have to be element 85, i.e. Astatine? That is, an element that doesn't exist naturally, only via radioactive decay of other elements, is incredibly unstable in its own right- its longest-lived isotope has a half-life of 8.5 hours- and that has never been seen by the naked eye because (according to Wikipedia) "a mass large enough [for that] would be immediately vaporized by the heat generated by its own radioactivity".

        Yes, I can see that this would make astatine *slightly* more difficult to work with in a similar setup than bismuth. :-)

        Of course, I guess they could try other combinations of elements- they'd have to- but assuming I got that correct, I guess it illustrates your second point quite well. :-)

        1. dssf

          Re: Element 119 and beyond? Islands of stability ...

          Well, as long as they do not do something incredibly or end-credibility-stupid with Astatine and drop two Ts and create massively deadly radiation along the way, then they won't create a dubious new element: ASININE????

          sorry.... Could.. Not... Re... Cyst my elemental silliness, hahahaha

    2. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: Element 119 and beyond?

      We need to wait until a reasonably intact UFO can be acquired for research.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Ole Juul

      Re: Element 119 and beyond?

      What have they got against 115?

      Probably nothing. They've just been watching Firefox's success with version numbers.

      1. HMB

        Re: Element 119 and beyond?

        This element may well not have lasted for a fraction of a second..

        From what we have seen so far, the heavier you go past a certain point, the less and less time it takes before the element decays.

        Let's imagine that for some weird reason aliens had made a UFO out of element 120.

        Ok, the time I just said to say OK and for you to think about it, the elements already gone. Even better, it irradiated the area as it did so. If we had a large mass of this and you were standing right next to it, well, I think it would be fatal. I think that's a fairly safe thing to say. It's going to be hotter than freshly extracted used nuclear fuel.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Element 119 and beyond?

          If it was emitting alpha particles it'd only be dangerous if you were leaning on it or had swallowed it (cue story about small dog and alien invasion taskforce)

  4. jai

    please don't let them call it unobtainium!

  5. TRT Silver badge



    1. Dave the Cat
      Thumb Up

      Re: Godzillium!

      Like it!

    2. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: Godzillium!

      That's even better than my Godzilla-based joke!

    3. Fred Goldstein

      Re: Godzillium!

      That's the western version. The actual Japanese name of the monster was Gojira. And Gojirium sounds even better.

  6. TeeCee Gold badge

    Missed a trick.

    "...slapping their foreheads in amazement at not thinking of such a basic ploy."

    I can't help thinking that "elementary" would have been better than "basic" in this context. Possibly with an appended "(hah!)"......

    1. Arctic fox

      Perhaps it might be, "Elementary my dear TeeCee".

      See Icon.*

      *This icon was selected for the sake of the quotation in the title and the literary reference therein. No sarcasm was intended or deployed during the uploading of this posting.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    "they have discovered the so-far undiscovered "

    Is that down to some special properties of the element in question? ;)

  8. An ominous cow herd

    It shall be called "Ununtrium"

    Or maybe it should be "Hyakujūsanium", for it's japanese origin?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It shall be called "Ununtrium"

      If it has a short half-life then I would suggest WhereTheFucksItGone'ium

  9. I think so I am?

    half life?

    If its unstable, does it really count as an element if it just quickly turns into another element?

    1. Ru

      Re: half life?


    2. Silverburn

      Re: half life?


      You're maybe thinking of whether it should be called an element if it cannot survive in natural conditions...anywhere in the universe.

  10. Ole Juul

    113 elements

    ought to be enough for anybody.

  11. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Sorry, but...

    Everything since the Fifth Element has not been as interesting. Mmmmmm, Milla....

  12. g e


    I thank you

    (Or Nipponium if it has to be -ium on the end)

  13. David Pollard

    Nuclear chemistry

    Bravo. It's good to see Japan at the forefront of research into nuclear chemistry.

    I hope Reg readers will also join in a toast to Riken for the good work that they did following the tsunami and Fukushima accident. Riken staff measured radiation levels in various locations and provided a dependable summary.

    1. Blue eyed boy

      Re: Nuclear chemistry

      There we are - fukushinium.

  14. Stretch

    I name element 125 Slagium. Live with it.

    1. John G Imrie

      In that case ...

      I'd like to name element 127 Nybalium. In order of all the geeks who have helped with the processing of the data.

  15. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    If they really wanted to create an explosive atmosphere

    Sukakuium would be the name of choice

    In Chinese textbooks that would have to become Diaoyuium

  16. banjomike
    Thumb Up



    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Kamikazium.

      WW3 fought through science. The predicted atomic war.

      Pearlharbonium. Then the next once discovered by the US will probably be named Hiroshimite.

      I like the sound of Narutonium though.


      I don't know. We'll wait and see!

  17. Richard Wharram
    Paris Hilton

    Bukakium ?


    1. Toastan Buttar
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Bukakium ?

      Ashamed to say, that was exactly my first thought.

    2. bugalugs

      Re: Bukakium ?

      comes and goes quickly

  18. Gary F

    And the purpose of this element is...?

    Why haven't they named it Japanite?

    1. Ru

      Re: And the purpose of this element is...?

      Its purpose, like that of so much other research, is to be one of the foundations upon which greater projects may be built. Shoulders of giants and all that.

      There are two reasons it is not called Japanite. Firstly, elements are generally suffixed with '-ium', as that is what IUPAC likes. Secondly, they wouldn't use "Japanium" for the same reason an element discovered in the UK is unlikely to be called "Angleterrium" or "Großbrittanium".

      1. EvilGav 1

        Re: And the purpose of this element is...?

        But they did call it Americium . . .

        1. Dave the Cat

          Re: And the purpose of this element is...?

          I think that probably says more about America's over-inflated sense of self-importance than anything else.... ;-)

          1. Yag

            Re: And the purpose of this element is...?

            Don't forget about Francium and Germanium...

            Gallium may qualify too, Gallus meaning Gaul (and rooster) in latin.

      2. Dave Walker

        Re: And the purpose of this element is...?

        Me thinks the poster meant "why would they use a non-Japanese name for Japan in the title" ergo perhaps (since I can't type in Kanji) it would be "Nihonium"?



        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And the purpose of this element is...?

          -ium is transliterated to umu in Japanese .. i.e. Calcium is karushiumu (カルシウム) and sodium is sojiumu (ソジウム)so it would be nihonnumu or I would guess nipponnumu. (double nn == ん otherwise you would get ぬ). There are "proper" kanji words for some of the elements.. but not being a science bod I don't know when you would use one or the other. Looking at my dictionary though some common compounds use the kanji word for one part and the transliterated English or German for other parts.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: And the purpose of this element is...?

            Just a brain fart.. but I guess that you need a syllable with an i sound to use "umu" (i.e caesium is se-shi-u-mu).

            So maybe that it would be nipponi-umu. Makes more sense when you look at the words in romaji.

    2. Severen

      Re: And the purpose of this element is...?

      "Why haven't they named it Japanite?"

      Because it isn't a mineral?

    3. J 3

      Re: And the purpose of this element is...?

      +1 for Japanium, just so the letter J finally gets in the periodic table. Ahem.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Japaneseium? or....


    1. BlueGreen

      Re: Japaneseium? or.... -- they'd never call it that

      they're too polite.

  20. Avatar of They
    Thumb Down

    It's getting silly

    If it is man made and horrendously unlikely to exist without massive cost or specific criteria, why is it on the table of elements? What next, compounds as well? The periodic table would never stop and all of these extra elements will never have a use in real life. Or be available to anyone in chemistry to work with to see if it can be used. Since 1940 have any of the new elements that are only man made been used to further existence, or even been recreated after the inital discovery and proof of concept tests?

    As a graduate of Chemistry I am interested in new discoveries but just to get your name in the history books and proving you can is a little tedious to my mind. But I am not a chemist with access to unstable particle accelerators or reactors.

    Besides what is the half life of it, what is the stable life span? Some of the newer exist for micro seconds.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's getting silly

      Are you some sort of hipster chemist? Did you prefer Medeleev's periodic table before it went mainstream? I bet you still call stuff "ekaboron" or "dvimanganese" instead of the fancy stage names thrust onto them by the bureaucrats working for Big Chemistry.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: It's getting silly

      Check out your smoke detectors sometime and americium-241 discovered in 1944

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's getting silly

      Obviously not a very good graduate.

  21. Purlieu


    there, neatly joined several things together

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Appstorium


      I'll let you know where to send the keyboard.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oooooh, so close.....


  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like the simplicity and the fact that el reg didn't need to stoop to 30+83.

  23. Magister

    It's already been named

    They have already provided names up to 119. It was decided that they should not allow any personal or political affiliation naming in future (boo, hiss).

    For reference, it is called Ununtrium (114 = Ununquadrium, 115 = Ununquintrium, 116 Ununhexium, 117 = Ununseptium, 118 = Ununoctrium, 119 = Ununontrium - from memory, which I have already proved today is failing.)

    Not quite sure how they will fit it into Tom Lehrer's party piece. (

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: It's already been named

      AIUI the unun-* names are all just placeholders. Anyone actually synthesising the element gets to name it as long as it's not contentious.

    2. SimonHornby

      Re: It's already been named

      Element 115 should be called Elerium if it's ever discovered. UFO: Enemy Unknown makes that clear...

  24. deadlockvictim

    On the naming of elements

    I don't see why it has to end in -ium nor why it should be English.

    Them being fond of their emperor, they'll probably name it after his reign — something like Heiseishinsoshi ( roughly, and probably poorly, translated as 'new element (discovered in the reign of the) Heisei (emperor) ).

    Given the Japanese penchant for kawaiiiii, I'd like a name like 'omoiko' (heavy little child).

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: On the naming of elements

      Not sure where you get "heavy little child" omoi is heavy and ko is child.. surely if you were going for kawaii you would call it puyopuyo-ium or debu-ium (both on the fat/heavy theme).

      1. deadlockvictim

        muzukashi naaaa?

        Esteemed Replier» Not sure where you get "heavy little child" omoi is heavy and ko is child.. surely if you were going for kawaii you would call it puyopuyo-ium or debu-ium (both on the fat/heavy theme).

        Danierusan konnichi ha

        Strictly speaking, I should've put brackets around the word 'little' and left it at 'heavy (little) child'. The Japanese do sometimes use word '-ko' * (meaning 'child') as a diminuative. Adverbs and adjectives like 'puyopuyo' tend to stand alone rather than in compounds. I could've also used the ending '-chan' but neither 'omochan' nor 'puyopuyochan' sound as good as 'omoiko'.

        Mata ne

        * Perhaps related ( for I am no scholar on Japanese etymology) is the fact one of the Japanese prefixes for small is 'ko-'. This is a different kanji — 'small', rather than 'child', but then, in Japan, the kunyomi (original Japanese reading) are older than the kanji.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the Japanese discover the Island of Stability

    Will the Chinese claim it?

  26. Lars Silver badge

    Reliable sources

    Reliable sources whisper that Apple has been granted a patent for producing a phone using some "new" material.

    So you got the picture now. Best of all, they whisper, is that the phone will magically transform into a Samsung unworkable phone filled with Apple patents.

    Of course you newer know with reliable sources

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The predicted "island of stability" is around 122 according to Marinov.

    He claimed back in 2006 to have found evidence of a stable isotope with Z = 122 in natural thorium, but so far others searching for it have drawn a blank.

    I theorised back in 2010 that elements heavier than Z=104 could maintain stability at very low temperatures, by phonon pair exchange within a superconducting lattice of lighter elements.

    Essentially the superheavy nuclei maintain stability by exchanging their nuclear vibrations that normally tear the nucleus apart with lighter nuclei by phonon pair transfer through a superconducting lattice.

    At very low (ie cryogenic) temperatures the half life of these elements could be in the 100M year range.. !

    Someone needs to try this experiment, a simple way to prove their existence would be to heat up a rock sample containing heavy elements such as barium and thorium, and look for a sudden jump in neutron and/or gamma emissions.

    May explain gamma ray flashes originating from high up in the atmosphere, as the particles heat up they "go normal" and the superheavies rapidly decay emitting gammas in the process.

    AC/DC 6EQUJ5.

    1. Lord Raa

      Re: Actually

      I was under the impression that temperature did not affect radioactive decay rates.

      Though, in theory anything at near absolute zero could have a longer half-life, but radioactive elements would make such an experiment difficult.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Dumb Question

    [but genuine]

    Is there actually any purpose to this kind of research, beyond it being an academic exercise and providing a bit of mutual back-slapping for the scientific community?

    From my layman's point of view, it seems akin to cutting a woman and a dolphin in half, sewing the top half of the woman to the bottom half of the dolphin and declaring that "behold" you've created a new form of life —even though it's not anything that can survive for more than a nanosecond, or will ever be found in nature.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dumb Question

      It's not a dumb question.

      There's a theory that atomic nuclei contain shells of particles akin to the shells of electrons which convey their chemical properties. As the shells in the nucleus fill up the atom should become more stable and will have a longer halflife than those with only partially filled shells.

      This is why it is believed that heavier elements round about 120 will start showing longer half lives and form an 'island of stability'. Some of these elements might have half lives measured in years or even millions of years, so they might have some use.

      There's also an interesting chemical question that these new elements should obey the rules of the Groups to which they belong. For instance element 117 (provisionally ununseptium) belongs to Group 17 - the halogens; whilst 118 (temporarily called ununoctium) *should* belong to Group 18 in the periodic table - the Noble gases. If these elements don't obey the rules predicted by their position in the Periodic Table then our understanding of the elements will need to be revised. And that is Nobel Prize territory.

      1. LINCARD1000
        Thumb Up

        Re: Dumb Question

        Thanks for the concise, easy to understand explanation, Mike. I'd been wondering the same thing myself - why bother outside of the "because I can" explanation (and I am very pro pure-science research). That's actually quite a fascinating question; whether or not these 'superheavy' elements would behave as per their table grouping, if they could be produced in a stable form that didn't immediately self-destruct.

  29. David Eddleman

    I propose...


    And for isotopes? Naquadria.

  30. nuked

    I hear Apple are already preparing a patent...

    1. David Pollard

      I hear Apple are already preparing a patent..

      Spherical shells are the new version of rounded corners.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not already discovered?

    I understand Wikipedia isn't the master source of knowledge, but it claims this element was discovered in 2004?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ooo my head feels funny?!

  33. Rukario



    I'd love to see what happens if they discover 121.

  34. Martin Huizing

    I dare them...

    naming it after that island China claims to be theirs!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Um dude..

    You are gonna so get sueballed, Naquadah (tm) is trademarked by MGM/Fox.

    I suggest "Legalium" or "Scumbaglawyerium"...

  36. Delbert


    after all he is not getting a Nobel prize any time soon.........

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing the obvious

    Clearly the element needs to be named Jumbonium. I bid $200,001, Bob.

  38. MartinC

    So wtf did they call it then?



    Or maybe Kamakazium, on account of how it immediately fissioned itself out of existance.

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