Periodic table

Exploring the superheavy elements at the end of the periodic table

May 22, 2019

new heavy metals research

The addition of four new elements added to the periodic table in 2016 was only the beginning. Now chemists and physicists are starting the hard work of determining the physicochemical properties of these short-lived and incredibly rare species. And that often involves atom-at-a-time chemistry.

The Element Named After Berkeley

September 17, 2019


Glenn Seaborg was born too late to have spawned Cal’s spirit cry. It’s coincidence, surely, that his name is an anagram for “Go Bears!” And, although he was definitely a Bears fan and was Chancellor when Cal last made it to the Rose Bowl in 1959, he was never in Oski’s league as a campus celebrity. While others led rallies, he had to settle for spearheading decades of trailblazing nuclear science, endowing UC Berkeley with bragging rights to the discovery of a record 16 new elements. Now, though, the 1951 Nobelist is making a bid to play in the social media space.

The histories hidden in the periodic table

December 31, 2019

periodic table

The story of the fifteenth element began in Hamburg, in 1669. The unsuccessful glassblower and alchemist Hennig Brandt was trying to find the philosopher’s stone, a mythical substance that could turn base metals into gold. Instead, he distilled something new. It was foamy and, depending on the preparation, yellow or black. He called it “cold fire,” because it glowed in the dark. Interested parties took a look; some felt that they were in the presence of a miracle. “If anyone had rubbed himself all over with it,” one observer noted, “his whole figure would have shone, as once did that of Moses when he came down from Mt. Sinai.”

The Periodic Table Is Turning 150. Please Clap!

October 2, 2019

Periodic table

Berkeley chemist John Arnold fell under the table’s spell while still a high school student in Lancashire, England. For Arnold, now a professor and undergraduate dean of the College of Chemistry, Mendeleev’s creation has a magic about it. “It really is, I think, one of the greatest scientific accomplishments of all time,” Arnold says. “We can relate things that happen in our lives every day to that one simple, two-dimensional picture.”

Stellar reactions in a galaxy not so far, far away

July 2, 2019

Dawn ShaughnessyDawn Shaughnessy leads the Nuclear and Radiochemistry Group of the Physics and Life Sciences Directorate at Lawrence Berkeley Livermore Lab and uses the National Ignition Facility to generate some of the most extreme conditions in our solar system for high energy density experiments.