Posted on November 9, 2016
Like any other living thing, I do better when the carbon and oxygen around me isn't breaking down into other elements and leaking radiation in the process.
Almost all of the oxygen and carbon on Earth are stable isotopes, but Oxygen 15 and Carbon 14 and other radioactive isotopes do exist in trace amounts. Oxygen 15 breaks down very quickly – after just a bit more than 2 minutes, half of the 15-O atoms will convert themselves to fluorine or nitrogen. Carbon 14 is more weakly radioactive; it takes about 5,730 years for half of these atoms to convert themselves to stable Nitrogen 14 atoms.
Today we celebrate an element that is much more of a “flash in the pan,” even, than Oxygen 15: darmstadtium.
On this date in 1994, a research group in Germany created the first known darmstadtium in the Institute for Heavy Ion Research. That institute is located in Darmstadt – hence the name!
And the longest-existing darmstadtium isotope doesn't last for thousands of years or even a couple of minutes – its half life is only 9 to 11 seconds! That means that, just 10 (or so) seconds after being created, about half of the darmstadtium atoms have decayed into lighter elements.
Most isotopes of darmstadtium break down in mere milliseconds.
Darmstadtium has the symbol Ds and the atomic number 110. It always has 110 protons, and various isotopes have from 150 to 170 neutrons (the more neutrons, the more stable the darmstadtium atom, for the most part).
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