Periodic table posters in science labs need to be updated. Scientists from Russia and the US have synthesized a super heavy radioactive element with atomic number 117. They have named it ununseptium or Uus, until the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry decides on a name.

Uus is the immediate decay product of the heaviest radioactive element 118, or ununoctium. Understanding its properties may take some time because Uus remains stable only for 78 milliseconds. The scientists said synthesizing the element is a major step towards discovering stable superheavy elements that could last for a very long time, even approaching billions of years. Except plutonium and neptunium, none of the elements beyond atomic number 92 (uranium) occur naturally.


Down To Earth, July 2010