Monday, January 07, 2019

Thinking About the Next New Element

While researching the daily compilation of famous birthdays and historical events I publish on my Facebook page, I learned that on this date in 1939 a French physicist named Marguerite Perey discovered the element Francium, the last naturally-occurring element to be discovered. Every subsequently-discovered element has been identified using particle accelerators and nuclear reactions to add protons to elements that already exist.

I'm thinking about this in two ways.

First, Francium was discovered by a woman. At a time when we're pushing to get more women into STEM* careers, it's worth remembering that women have always been making their mark in science ... indeed, Mme Perey was a student of the great Marie Curie, the discoverer of the element Radium and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences (physics and chemistry).

Second, the name Francium was derived from the name of the country in which it was identified (France, of course). I'm not sure what the formal process is for determining the names of new elements, but I imagine that had it been discovered in present-day America, it would have been named Trumpium ... because who knows more about chemistry and physics** than Donald Trump? And who is better about putting his name on things in big letters?***

Which leads me to another thought ... what might be the properties of a new element named in honor of Donald Trump? Would it be completely inert or have wildly unpredictable properties? Would it be a dense solid or a gas whose properties are difficult to pin down? What color would it be? It would surely not exist in nature, but would arise from the breakdown of other, more stable elements; indeed, it would probably work as a powerful catalyst for the destruction of more useful compounds.

Any other ideas? It's elementary, after all.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


* Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

** And everything else, too ... just ask him.

*** Well, until they become a national embarrassment, like the Trump Shutdown. 

† I'm not going for the obvious comment.


Atomic Dog said...

The color of this possible gas would be orange, of course. And it would have the odour of hydrogen sulfide.

Mike said...

I think piles of poop emit tRumpium.

Cloudia said...

Very intelligent romp!

allenwoodhaven said...

Excellent! As for tRumptium, I guess it would be appear to be inert but would break down, dissolving when studied or exposed to sunlight.