Oganessian et al Discover New Element (Z=117)

On April 9, Yuri Tsolakovich Oganessian and his team of Russian and American physicists published a paper discussing their discovery of element number 117 in “Physical Review Letters.”

Yuri Oganessian

The team led by Oganessian of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, discovered the still unnamed element by colliding together calcium-48 (an isotope made of 20 protons and 28 neutrons) with berkelium-249 (which has 97 protons and 152 neutrons). The result of the fusion reactions was the creation of two isotopes—293117 and 294117—of an element with 117 protons. One isotope had 176 neutrons, and the other had 177. “After experiment on the synthesis [of] element 118, this is the second time when we [were able to produce] atomic nuclei with mass number 294,” Oganessian told the Armenian Weekly.

Number 117 is a superheavy element. Such superheavies tend to decay fast, almost immediately. They do not exist in nature, and are created by colliding lighter elements together through particle accelerators. In fact, only the first 92 elements on the periodic table are natural. The first artificial elements were discovered in 1940-41—neptunium and plutonium—and by the end of the century a total of 17 artificial elements were discovered. Many researchers think that these superheavy elements could reach an “island of stability”; in other words, as their mass increases they could become more stable and have longer lifetimes. A press report issued by Oganessian’s team explains, “The decay properties of the isotopes of element 117 and its daughter products…are a direct experimental evidence of the existence of the ‘islands of stability’ of superheavy nuclei.”

For now the newly discovered element, which is positioned between elements 116 and 118 on the periodic table, is referred to as Ununseptium, which means 117 in Latin. It will receive an official name once the discovery is confirmed elsewhere. The name could pay homage to a laboratory or person involved in the discovery. Element 105, for example, was named Dubnium by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry in honor of the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions (FLNR) located in Dubna, Russia.

The cover of Physical Review Letters featuring Oganessian's discovery

The Weekly asked Oganessian if he has any advice for the Armenian youth going into the scientific field. “I would wish to say [to] my young colleagues that scientific work is a hard labor,” said Oganessian.  “Once you have chosen this way, let you be not depressed by the problem of eternal search, let you be not saddened by setbacks, and let you never lose self-confidence. Some time or other, the fruits of your effort will be called for and your name will be referred to with gratitude by your successors.”

Experimental physicist Yuri Oganessian, who will turn 77 on April 14, is well known for his work on the physics of the atomic nucleus and nuclear reactions, and experiments on the synthesis and investigations on the properties of new elements on the periodic table. He was born in 1933 in Rostov/Don in the then-Soviet Union. After graduating from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute in 1956, he joined the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna where he became head of the accelerator start-adjusting group, and then director and scientific leader of FLNR. After defending his theses in 1970, he became a professor and a Full Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). He has formulated the basic principles of synthesis of transfermium elements in the reactions of cold fusion, and with the help of his colleagues, conducted experiments on the synthesis of elements with Z=100-108. Between 1999 and 2006, these reactions resulted in the discovery of elements with Z=113-116, and 118, which is the largest atomic number discovered so far. He is also head of the “Experimental Methods in Nuclear Physics” branch chair of the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, and chairman of the Dissertation Council in Dubna.

Oganessian’s work has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including the USSR State Prize (1975), the I.V. Kurchatov Prize (USSR AS, 1989), the G.N. Flerov Prize (JINR, 1993), the A. von Humboldt Prize (Germany, 1995), the L. Meitner Prize (European Physical Society, 2000), and the MAIK Nauka/Interperiodika Prize (2001). He has also earned a number of governmental awards, such as the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, the Order for Service to the Fatherland fourth degree (1999), the Order for Service to the Fatherland third degree (2003), and the Order of Friendship of Peoples. He has been on the editorial boards of the Journal of Physics, Nuclear Physics News International, Il Nuovo Cimento, Physics of Elementary Particles and Atomic Nuclei, and Particle Accelerators. He is a member of the Scientific Councils of GANIL (France) and RIKEN (Japan), and has been elected a foreign member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (1995), honorary doctor of the Goethe University (Frankfurt/Main, Germany, 2002), and the University of Messina (Italy, 2002).

Oganessian has provided the Armenian Weekly with a detailed description of the experiment that led to the discovery of heaviest element with atomic number 117.

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian was the editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2014 to 2016. She served as assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2010 to 2014. Her writings focus on human rights, politics, poverty, and environmental and gender issues. She has reported from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabagh, Javakhk and Turkey. She earned her B.A. degree in Political Science and English and her M.A. in Conflict Resolution from the University of Massachusetts (Boston).
Nanore Barsoumian

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  1. My heart fills with pride when I read of an Armenian with such prestige and education… I am proud of Mr Oganessian…

    May God protect you and may you discover many more Elements


  2.   Thanks Armenian Weekly for covering a science aspect of our Armenian people. With no doubt Dr. Oganessian is a brilliant figure in the research of atomic physics. However, my heart graves with a lot of pain, when we cover a story about one scientist, whereas in the heart of Armenia thousands of brilliant figures are entirely neglected. There is almost nothing mentioned about for example, Paris Haruni, Margarian, and an entirely new generation of mathematicians, computer scientist, physicists, archeologist, as well as other disciplines of science and art. Thousands of our scientist are in so desperate situations that they are doing some low paying side jobs (e.g. taxi driving, selling tomatoes, etc.) to keep up with their daily life.

  3. You are missing the point!! Dr. Oganessian is to be commended for his breakthrough discovery, which will sure to be beneficial for all mankind (although he didn’t do it all by himself…he was in constant contact with his fellow physicist colleagues)! No where does he say that this was for Armenia and the dashnak Armenian diaspora!! Why must all of you always have to try and put a political spin on everything? It would be like Dr. Mehmet Oz saying that every single new surgical technique that he discovered was for Turkey and Turks! All discoveries are for the advancement of all mankind!! Please stop trying to make everything political…the world’s clearly had enough of your dashnak antics by this time!! 

  4. Bravo Dr. Haro,

    Well said.

    Haro jan, if I am not mistaken.. this Robert guy is a Turk (the other half brother of another Turk Ahmet who is putting his nonsense comments on every Armenian forum.. well at least that is the joke about them)..  If this is the right Robert and I have a feeling he is, he is obsessed with Dashnaks and every single paragraph he writes, he mentions Dashnaks.. One would think Robert is in love with them..Sir, get used to the fact that many brilliant scientists, intellects,  physicists, archeologist, are Armenians.. and you will see more and more of us…


  5. Armenian Weekly is indeed collaborating with the commenter Mr. Roberts. I had more lines in both of my comments, and the Weekly is sensoring and altering the meaning of my comments. I will need to contact one of the Armenian Weekly representative and talk about this. A continuation of such behavior will be publisized by me on several influential websites and blogs.
    Armenian Weekly, DO NOT CUT MY COMMENTS!!!! I had nothing abusive as Mr. Robert’s to be delibrately cut in my comments. All comments have been screen-shot and kept on my file. Please be careful here…

  6. A portion of Robert’s comments were deleted because he denied the Armenian Genocide. The relevant portion in Haro Mherian’s post was also removed so that it does not seem as if he is putting words in Robert’s mouth.
    Mr. Mherian, instead of realizing that the comment was edited for his own sake, is threatening the Armenian Weekly for “censoring” his comment and accusing the Weekly of “collaborating with Robert”!

  7. Mr. Mherian, yes, go ahead and attack the Weekly, a respected institution, and then accuse the Weekly with collaborating with Turks! I am surprised the Weekly even published your insulting and threatening comment. I wonder if anybody here owes an apology…

  8. Hello Armenian Weekly Admin,

    As long as I have you posting here, i would like to request the following:

    I have noticed that many comments never reaches to my inbox.  I only get to read them once I log into the forum to read the one comments I receive.  Is this a bug or is this intentional? I hope to assume it is a bug. 

    I would like to request that any comment to the forums that I have subcribed to be sent to my personal inbox.

    Thank you very much…


  9. Dear Gayane,
    You are supposed to receive all comments following your post if you have selected on the “notify me” option. Thank you for pointing out the problem you were having. We will forward your comment to the webmaster.
    Weekly Admin Team

  10. Armenian Weekly, thank you for clarification, but your answer does not address the situation of my first comment. There was a poetic and scientific line in my first comment that you cut. The line was very educative and very much related with this article. By cutting this part of comment, you have arose in me the doubt that your moderator has not read this article itself.
    On the other hand, yes, you did the right thing by not putting on web the part of Mr Robert’s comment where the word Genocide was in quotes and a clear statement of denial of the Genocide. However, all commenters of this article receive an email from you that had this comment intact. Therefore, your efforts have been annihilated by your poor comment messaging software system. The weakness of your technology is no excuse for being hijacked by a propaganda machine. Either eliminate your comment system all together or be careful in becoming an incubator for Turks and Turkish Propaganda.

  11.   Narine, I may apologize to you and all commenters here. But if my apology defies the truth, then it will destroy my essence. I am a mathematician, true mathematicians don’t lie. An apology is cheap to give, I can give as many as you want, but please don’t make me lie by apologizing. Finally, Armenian Weakly did publish my comment, which has absolutely no insult at all (unless if the truth is an insult to you). They publish my comment, because they realized the enveloping problem, and decided that it’s better to stick to the truth. This, I do appreciate and accept, but that does not mean, as a warning system, I should be put to silence. If they want to do just that, they can always turn the commenting section off, and I would be better off doing my daily work without being distracted with any article on world. Live carelessly, when the entire body of Armenian scientists and intellectuals are being eliminated by silence, because they dare to protest for the weaknesses of our “respected” News ports and papers.
    Narine, I understand your pain when you see such situation, but only feeling the pain is not enough, you should teach them a lesson if you can do so. That makes the organization healthy and powerful, and not just “fear of respect” silence.

  12. Admin,

    I see that you’ve yet once again censored and deleted my posts! Your actions simply defy any words. I must be a huge threat to you all on the Board to warrant such actions! The last time I saw this type of cowardice was with the Vichey French government ( who were nothing more than puppets for the Germans in occupied France)!! Let me ask you all one question…Have none of you even have a semblance of an ethical soul? Or did you throw that into the trash with your conscience?!!  

  13. Armenian Weakly, As you can see, your action did not resolve the hijacking of your comments section as an incubator for Turkish propaganda. The warning I gave was a measured and well calculated procedure, but your moderator took upon her/him to belittle a strike of a mathematician’s paw. Thanks for your defeatalist action!!!!
    Maybe, it is time that we listen to our mathematicians and scientists…

    Can’t you get it: Erase all of Robert’s comments from this page, since he proved himself a Genocide denialist in the segment that you did not post! That’s how you resolve abuse, not by just cutting a piece. DENIALISM IS A CRIME!!!!

  14. Robert,

    What you have to say is not even half way intelligent.. so why are you upset about having your comments cut?  I agree with Haro.. Weekly should have deleted all your comments all together.. at least they would have done a great deed for all of us who have to endure your stupidity…

    Anyway… to resolve this matter fair and square… lets make sure to omit only comments that include but not limited to profanity, and Robert and his likes.. ok maybe not.. otherwise we won’t have the joy of reading nonsense and be able to poitn it out to them..

    Respecting one’s opinion and allowing them to express how they see it fit (again without profanity)  is the greatest rights we have in the United States… We are not leaving  in Turkey..


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