Published online: 1 December 2016
Science often develops most vigorously through challenging studies of extreme phenomena. Superheavy elements fall into such a category.
What is the heaviest element that can exist in Nature?
Driven by the continued search for an anticipated “island of stability” of superheavy atomic nuclei and the understanding of their underlying nuclear (in)stability and atomic structure hence chemical properties, the past decades have seen a tremendous progress in experimental ingenuity and theoretical methodology to study and characterize superheavy elements. Therefore, we are very grateful that the Nobel Foundation  approved and, jointly with the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation , provided the financial resources to organize and conduct the Nobel Symposium NS160, entitled Chemistry and Physics of Heavy and Superheavy Elements. These symposia “are devoted to areas of science where breakthroughs are occurring or deal with other topics of primary cultural or social significance” . About three symposia are held each year, roughly every fourth symposium promotes a topic in physics as primary research area, and from about every third symposium a contemporary Nobel Price is being awarded.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences 2016
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