Heavy element

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The Independent Online
German scientists have produced the world's heaviest element, which has an atomic number of 110 and exists for less than a thousandth of a second.

The presence of element 110, which has yet to be named, was discovered when the apparatus detected the emission of helium nuclei as it decayed after days of bombarding lead atoms with nickel in the Unilac particle accelerator at Darmstadt, southern Germany.

The heaviest element occurring in nature is uranium, with an atomic number of 92.

Other, heavier elements were present when the Earth was formed more than 4 billion years ago, but they have decayed away since.

Scientists from Russia, Slovakia and Finland collaborated with Peter Armbruster, a German physicist credited with leading teams that produced three other heavy new elements at the centre between 1981 and 1984.

The element has an atomic weight of 269 and is related chemically to nickel, palladium and platinum