Nuclear Physics: The Heaviest Atom

Near the beginning of time, the universe almost certainly contained many elements heavier than uranium, the heaviest element that exists naturally on earth. Gradually these "transuranium" elements disappeared, decomposing by radioactive decay into lighter and more stable elements. During the past few decades, however, at least eleven transuranium elements and their isotopes have reappeared, thanks to the ingenuity of man. In their latest atomic synthesis, nuclear physicists have produced the heaviest atom known to man, a new isotope of the element mendelevium, which itself was first artificially created in 1965.


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