Archives of Ask A Scientist!
About "Ask A Scientist!"
On September 17th, 1998 the Ithaca Journal ran its first "Ask A Scientist!" article in which Professor Neil Ashcroft , who was then the director of CCMR, answered the question "What is Jupiter made of?" Since then, we have received over 1,000 questions from students and adults from all over the world. Select questions are answered weekly and published in the Ithaca Journal and on our web site. "Ask A Scientist!" reaches more than 21,000 Central New York residents through the Ithaca Journal and countless others around the world throught the "Ask a Scientist!" web site.
Across disciplines and across the state, from Nobel Prize winning scientist David Lee to notable science education advocate Bill Nye, researchers and scientists have been called on to respond to these questions. For more than seven years, kids - and a few adults - have been submitting their queries to find out the answer to life's everyday questions.
Element 107 was initially discovered in 1981 by a team of researchers in Darmstadt, Germany; I have not been able to confirm that your symbol of Ns ever represented this element, or what it stood for.
The following names were finally accepted in 1997: Element 105, Dubnium (named after the city of Dubna, Russia in which the element was discovered in 1970, symbol Db); Element 106, Seaborgium (named in honor of Glenn Seaborg, symbol Sg, discovered 1970); Element 107, Bohrium (named in honor of Neils Bohr, symbol Bh, discovered 1981); Element 108, Hassium (named after the German province of Hesse in which the element was discovered in 1984, symbol Hs), and Element 109, Meitnerium (named in honor of Lise Meitner, symbol Mt, discovered 1982). A New York Times article describing the naming of the recently discovered elements can be found at www.periodic.lanl.gov/naming.html
Element 110 (discovered November 1994), Element 111 (discovered December 1994), Element 112 (discovered February 1996), Element 114 (October 1997), and Element 116 and Element 118 (discovered June 1999) have been observed but have not yet been named. Elements 113, 115, and 117 have not been made yet, nor has any element with atomic number greater than 118.
These very heavy atoms do not occur naturally. It takes dozens of people years of effort to make them in the laboratory. And even then the process is slow. For example, the team making Element 118 did not make much at all – only 3 atoms over the course of eleven days! The atoms were made by crashing a beam of krypton atoms into lead atoms, and each atom lasted only one one-thousandth of a second.
References: the Chemical Rubber Company, Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 71st Edition (1990-1991) on Element 105, and the web-site of the American Institute of Physics and the American Physics Society on later elements.
- Why does my milkshake stay thick even when it warms up? Shouldn't it get thinner as it melts?
- How come deserts have sand instead of dirt and soil?
- Why do baseballs fly farther in Coors Field in Colorado?
- Why is element 43 made by man and none of the elements around it are?
- What about the atomic structure of a substance determines its color and/or luster?
- Why does light travel slower in different materials (glass, water, etc.)? Also, how have scientists slowed light to "walking speeds"?
- How do magnets work?
- If an object passes in front of a projector/point-source of light that illuminates a screen far away, it will cast a shadow on the screen. Now, if the object moves fast enough, and/or if the screen is far enough, the shadow will move much faster than the object, and at a certain speed of the object, the shadow will move faster than the speed of light. What would a bystander, or a camera, see?
- Why does the earth have more water than land?
- How do you clean bones you would like to use in a display?