THE BLOG
03/29/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

January 28th: Creation of Element 114 (1999)

Is it any wonder that scientists are fascinated by Element 114, Ununquadium? This Superheavy element's creation had been years in the making. As one scientist pointed out, "people have been dreaming of superheavy elements since the 1960s." Fine, but I thought we'd all been dreaming about showing up to French class and finding out today is the final, but then you remember you haven't been to school all semester. The leader of the experiment, Heino Nitsche, was so excited at his discovery that he ran around shrieking "God is dead" until someone explained to him that come on, your names are spelled completely differently.

Ununquadium is a very stable element, unlike Lithium, which is known to fly off the handle at the mere mention of its messy bedroom. But when you consider Lithium's use in cool things like batteries, rocket ships, and 19th century gout treatments, it is understandable that it has a bit of an ego.

Ununquadium is classified with the metallic metals. Its symbol is Uuq, and its atomic weight is 289. 289 what I have no idea -- look, we can't all be professor Heino Nitsche.

If you find this kind of thing interesting, you will be interested to know that Element 114 actually has no real name. It is called "Ununuqadium," from the Latin "un" for one, "quad" for four, and "um" for when you're not really sure what to say. This is the science version of your parents being too "busy" to pick out a name, so your birth certificate reads Baby Girl or Baby Boy or, if you were kind of strange looking, simply Baby.

So far, scientists have observed about 80 decays of Ununquadium atoms, but there have probably been more, because Element 114 does have a life when scientists aren't around, you know.