Validation of new superheavy elements and IUPAC-IUPAP joint working group
Div. Math. Phys., Physics Department, LTH, Lund University, Sweden
a e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published online: 1 December 2016
The great chemist Glenn Seaborg has written a delightful little book “Man-made Transuranium Elements”, published in 1963, in which he points out that: “The former basic criterion for the discovery of a new element – namely, chemical identification and separation from all previously-known elements – had to be changed in the case of lawrencium (element 103). This also may be true for elements beyond lawrencium.” Indeed this is what has happened. The elements with Z ≥ 103 are produced in nuclear reactions and are detected by counters. The detectors have undergone substantial refinement. For example one uses multiwire proportional chambers [for which George Charpak received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physics] as well as solid state micro-strip detectors. In spite of this remarkable shift from chemistry to physics, the managerial staff of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) does not seem to be aware of what has been going on. The validation of superheavy elements should be done by physicists as the chemists lack the relevant competence as I will discuss here below. This article is about a collaboration between International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and its sister organization International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), to deal with discovery of superheavy elements beyond Z = 112. I spent a great deal of time on this issue. In my opinion, the collaboration turned out to be a failure. For the sake of science, which should be our most important concern (and not politics), the rules for the future collaborations, if any, should be accurately defined and respected. The validation of new elements should be done by people who have the relevant competence – the physicists.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences 2016
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