Science: Element 98

Creating new heavy elements is a faint bit like working a pinball machine; it takes a nice judgment of speed. Last week a group of University of California scientists led by Professor Glenn Seaborg told how they created Element 98, which stands six steps up the periodic table (of chemical elements) from uranium, the heaviest natural element. They did it by shooting alpha particles (helium nuclei) at curium, another synthetic element, No. 96, created by a Seaborg group in 1945.

The Californians knew that the alpha particles would have to move at just the right speed. If they moved too slowly,...

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