Controversy-Plagued Element 118, the Heaviest Atom Yet, Finally Discovered

Element 118 has been created in experiments conducted at the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions in Dubna, Russia by a collaboration of researchers from Russia’s Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Element 118, the heaviest element yet found, was produced through collisions that fused together Californium and Calcium atoms. Although element 118 is too unstable to detect directly, the presence of daughter elements resulting from the decay of element 118 gave clues to its fleeting existence.

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory previously reported the synthesis of element 118 in 1999, and later retracted their results when subsequent experiments failed to confirm their discovery. It was alleged that researcher Victor Ninov fabricated the experimental data that indicated the formation of element 118 atoms.

The (re)discovery was reported in the American Physical Society journal Physical Review C on October 9, 2006.

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