Last October 22, at 9:29 a.m., a bell rang in the main office of Yuri Oganessian’s lab in Dubna, north of Moscow. In a cramped warren partitioned by bookshelves and whiteboards, 12 nuclear physicists sat at desks stacked high with papers or strewn with snacks. Across the hall, a rebuilt but venerable cyclotron was flinging calcium atoms against a bit of foil at 67 million miles an hour. The chime of the little bell signaled that one of those collisions had worked: A new atom was born. At that moment it was the only atom of element 117 on Earth, and only the 19th ever to exist. The others had also been made in this lab, and all had quickly vanished. After a fraction of a second, this one was gone too.
Dubna, which sits on the Volga River, was carved out of a forest as a new city of science after World War II. Georgy Flerov, who had helped launch the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons research, founded the laboratory that Oganessian later took over. Early in the war Flerov had noticed that the flow of articles about radioactive elements from American and German scientists had suddenly stopped. He suspected they were building atomic bombs, and he wrote to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in April 1942. Stalin charged Russian physicists with building a bomb too. For his part Flerov was rewarded with a car, a dacha, and, most significant, the lab in Dubna. There he focused on the hunt for new elements.
Everything you know and love on Earth, and everything you don’t, is built of elements—the different types of atoms. They’re billions of years old, most of them, scattered into space by the big bang or exploding stars, then incorporated into the newborn Earth, then endlessly recycled as they moved from rock to bacteria, president, or squirrel. In the late 1800s another Russian, Dmitry Mendeleyev, tried to make sense of them all, grouping them by mass and other attributes in his periodic table. Later scientists traced Mendeleyev’s order to the structure of atoms. Each element got a number: the number of protons in its atomic nucleus.From the May issue of National Geographic magazine
While waves of arctic air will continue to pour across the Great Lakes and New England this weekend, milder air will surge farther northward early this week.
The cold reprieve unfolding across the United States will not last long with waves of chilly air set to invade many parts of the country in the days leading up to Christmas.
Urduja, known globally as Kai-tak, will continue to unleash life-threatening flooding rain and mudslides as it slowly crosses the Philippines into Monday.
Winds will again kick up and become strong, raising the risk of rapidly spreading wildfires in Southern California through Sunday as firefighters continue to battle the historic Thomas Fire.
After an unseasonably quiet start to December in the northwestern United States, a significant storm will set its sights on the region spanning Tuesday to Wednesday.
Southern Vietnam and the Malay Peninsula are being put on alert for potential impacts from Tropical Storm Kai-tak later next week after it finishes lashing the Philippines.
Keningston Palace has announced that Prince Harry will marry Meghan Markle on 19 May 2018 at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.