Recent Foolery in the Periodic Table Page: 75
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Atomic Properties of the Elements
AUTtHOR'S NOTE: In our "Rediscovery of the
Elements" project, some of us have had the good for-
tune to visit Al Ghiorso (recently deceased), who is
the 2003 Guinness World Record "winner"of the
maximum number of elements discovered by one
person. During that interview in Berkeley, Al
Ghiorso confided to us that recently-claimed
Element 118 was in error - and even was a fraud,
originated by Victor Ninov, who had left a trail of
faked data all the way from G.S.I. (Gesellschaft fur
Schwerionenforschung, Institute for Heavy-Ion
Research), Darmstadt, Germany. More recently,
even more chicanery has come to light. We reprint
here word received April 1 from Libyan Academy of
Science regarding this disturbing development.
19 'sc 20 s.
37 s 38 cs
55 s 56 's
6 Cs Ba
C rA9" I v1
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
IIIB IVB VB VIB VIIB r-- VIII- IB 118
21 '0, 22 'F 23 p 24 's, 25 's,: 26 '0,
Sc Ti V Cr Mn Fe
39 D, 40 r 42 43 's,, 44 'P
Y Zr Mo Tc Ru
73 ' 74 76
Ta W Os
Rf Db Hs
t La Ce Nd
89 'n 90 91 - 92 93
Ac Th Pa U Np
45 "F I
29 s , 30 s,
i",c I .
47 s 4
79 580 5
N.o-.d ,,k.0t e d St,,dad oend Teh..Cor 18
Physics Standard Reference 2
Laboratory Data Group He
13 14 15 16 17 41
IIIA VA VA VIA VIA
5 '6 7 s;8 .9 P 10
B C N O F Ne
13 15 16 17 P 18
Al P S CI Ar
31 32 33 34 35 , 36
Ga Ge As Se Br Kr
9 '50 51 's 52 53 54
In Sn Sb Te I Xe
81 82 -83 s 84 86 s
TI Pb Bi Po Rn
94 u 95s
m a aw-kp" For a description of the data, viit physkcs.nist.gov/data
Recent Foolery in the Periodic Table
by James L. Marshall, Beta Eta 1971 and Virginia R. Marshall, Beta Eta 2003 (originally appeared in the April 2003 Southwest Retort)
n a stunning series of revelations that spread through the periodic
table like a wildfire through Colorado, several chemical elements have
been withdrawn as evidence mounts that the experiments reporting
their discovery have been faked.
It started last spring with elements 118 and 116, whose"discovery" in
1998 at Berkeley had been reported in Physical Review Letters. But when
other labs could not reproduce the results, internal investigation revealed
that the lead author on the paper might have manufactured the evidence,
and the paper was withdrawn, taking the two elements with it.
Subsequently, it was alleged that the same person had faked earlier exper-
iments reporting the discovery of elements 110 and 112 at the GSI labora-
tory in Germany [N.B. These have been discussed in detail in"Fraud in the
Physical Sciences,"C&E News, 2002, 80(44), 31-33].
That was just the beginning. For years the Particle Data Group at
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory has been keeping close tabs on the proper-
ties of elementary particles, but stimulated by these events they turned
their attention to the chemical elements. In a report issued last week, they
conclude that there is no basis for believing in seven of the transuranic ele-
ments, which have atomic numbers beyond 92, and fully 18 of the so-
called naturally occurring elements probably don't exist either.
Particularly hard hit have been the rare earth elements. "They don't fit
very well into the periodic table anyway," said the anonymous spokesper-
son."Nobody will really miss them." He added that it should have been a
clue when two elements were given closely related names.
"Things like holmium (Ho) and hafnium (Hf). Or yttrium (Y) and ytter-
bium (Yb). What are the odds of two such crazy names arising indepen-
dently? The second was just a'copycat' discovery by someone trying to cash
in on the glory. When you look at the data, they're all faked, but no one
thought to investigate before.Yb or notYb? That is the question. And now
we have the answer."
Even some well-known elements are threatened with extinction.
Potentially the most serious is silicon, only recently thought to be one of
the most abundant of all the elements on Earth."Imagine what this will do
to the semiconductor industry when they find out that they named their
valley after a fictional element. Silicon comes from silly con, which just
means ridiculous fraud."
But if silicon and the other elements don't exist, what is the true com-
position of all the materials thought to contain them? The Berkeley group
believes it knows. "Most likely they're all different forms of carbon," the
spokesperson said."Everybody has heard about buckyballs and nanotubes.
Carbon can be made to take on an entire array of different forms. A lot of
what we thought of as different elements are probably just more and more
intricate forms of carbon. And carbon is one element that we're sure exists,
at least that's what they told me this morning."
ANOTHER GE NOTE: In the spirit of open source humor, I am here coining
the term "retro-mendeleevian process"-that is, to put the holes back into the
The periodic table image is modified from the one available at NIST:
R.A. Dragoset, A. Musgrove, C.W. Clark, and W.C. Martin
Embraced and adopted from The Southwest Retort, and printed in part with
permission. The story more originally appeared in 2002, in APS Physics, as
"Investigation Pokes Holes in the Periodic Table" by Martin Bridge:
WINTER 2011/THE HEXAGON
NIST SP 96 (September 2003)
T__ 1_ T__ T__ 1
1 ^ I IL_
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Marshall, James L., 1940- & Marshall, Virginia R. Recent Foolery in the Periodic Table, article, Winter 2011; Indianapolis, Indiana. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc111263/m1/1/: accessed February 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.