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Four New Elements Discovered!

January 6th, 2016

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There was a big announcement in the field of science this week — the discovery of four new elements being added to the periodic table. That’s a big deal!

Chemistry and the Periodic Table of Elements aren’t usually taught until later grades but here are the super basics.

Everything that you can see, touch, and breathe in the Universe — even you! — is made up of tiny atoms. They’re so small that half a million atoms could line up across a single human hair, according to Basher Science: Chemistry . That’s small!

Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. Different atoms have different amounts of these protons, neutrons and electrons which helps tell us what kind of element it is.

An element is a substance at its most basic. It can’t be broken down any further. And each element has its own personality or characteristic.

There are just over 100 different elements (that we know of right now) and they combine in different and nearly endless ways to make up everything in the Universe.

Hydrogen, for example, is an element. So is oxygen. When you combine two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen … tada, you get water. H20.

A Russian scientist named Mendeleev (pronounced: men-deh-lay-ev), who has a fascinating story of his own, figured all of this out and organized the elements into a chart — The Periodic Table of Elements.

He even knew, in 1869, that there would be more elements discovered. And we’re still adding them nearly 150 years later! This is the first time in 5 years that any have been added.

What’s unique about the four that were just approved by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry is that they are all “synthetic” … meaning that they don’t occur in nature as far as we know. Scientists made them in a laboratory. And even when they did, they lasted for literally for less than a second. But they were created and observed so they exist!

The new elements don’t have official names yet. And the discoveries were made by scientists in the USA , Russia , and for the first time in Japan .

The elements are numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118. And, excitingly, it completes the seventh row of the Periodic Table.

Maybe there will be more discovered by the time you learn Chemistry. And maybe you’ll be one of the scientists to discover another element!

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