Transuranic Alchemy

Part of the SpringerBriefs in History of Science and Technology book series (BRIEFSHIST)


The history of superheavy elements (SHEs) cannot be cleanly separated from the earlier history of transuranic elements with atomic numbers smaller than 104. By the late 1960s elements up to this place in the periodic table, including lawrencium of Z = 103, had been discovered although in a few cases the discovery claims were controversial. In this period the group of Berkeley nuclear scientists faced the first serious competition from scientists in Dubna in the Soviet Union. The beginning of proper SHE research was in part inspired by theoretical predictions of a so-called island of stability which also stimulated much work on the possible existence of SHEs in nature. This line of work, culminating in the 1970s, did not result in positive evidence and yet the search for naturally occurring SHEs has continued to this very day. The chapter ends with brief remarks on scientists’ motivation for synthesising and examining the very heavy elements.


Transuranic elements Superheavy elements Island of stability Magic numbers Albert Ghiorso Georgii Flerov 


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Niels Bohr ArchiveNiels Bohr InstituteCopenhagenDenmark

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