From discovery to confirmation and naming, the path is rarely simple
It’s not every day an element gets added to the periodic
table. The last time it happened was 2016, when
four new elements became official.
For these elements, reaching the table was an epic quest spanning
more than a decade. It required rare radioactive ingredients, violent atom
smashing, painstaking detection, a mountain of paperwork and a fair amount of waiting
before the elements became undisputed champions. But in the end, the newcomers made
it into the canon that governs chemistry, filling out the periodic table’s
Today, scientists continue pushing
the table to its limits, as they hunt for the next elements. It’s too soon
to say when element 119 or 120 might enter the spotlight. But the International
Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and the International Union of Pure and
Applied Physics (IUPAC and IUPAP), which evaluate new element claims, have set
out key steps and guidelines for becoming an element. So we know a thing or two
about what it will take.
Follow the journey in the video below. It may be a long and arduous process, but when you break it down, getting a spot on the periodic table has all the excitement and drama of a reality TV singing competition.