Three New Elements Named

The new elements are Darmstadtium (Ds), Roentgenium (Rg), and Copernicium (Cn).

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Very neat ... and simultaneously amazing that such synthetic elements can actually be observed when their half-lives can be measured in seconds!
Thanks for posting that!
This reminds me of the years when the field of research for my doctorate and then PDF at Oxford and AERE, Harwell, was studying low temperature properties of the trans-uranium metals. The ones available then at research-quantity levels---1957 to 1963---were plutonium (atomic number 94) and neptunium (93). Their temperatures were taken down to 0.3 Kelvin (= -270 Celsius; -460 F). It was hoped that they might be superconductors, like thorium (90) and uranium (92) had proved to be.

I am very ignorant about all but the most basic concepts of chemistry, but I'm very curious, so I'm going to ask this question anyway. What is the significance of creating synthetic elements that don't last for any length of time?

The simple short answer is "to prove it can be done."

But more excitingly, the answer is that one can never tell what useful discoveries might result. 

Until the early 1940s the periodic table of elements ended with uranium. 

Experiments in the 1940s to 1960s led to the manufacture of laboratory quantities of neptunium and plutonium, and eventually americium (95), curium (96), berkelium (97) and californium (98), whose physical properties could be determined. Beyond that, it is true that higher actinide elements have proved to be unstable with very short half lives for most of their isotopes. 

Yeah, same reason people climb mountains.  Because they're there.




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