1984 Hassium

The book of science

Tom Sharp

DarmstadtGottfried Münzenberg, Peter Armbruster, H. Folger, Sigurd Hofmann, Fritz Peter Heßberger, J. Keller, Klaus Poppensieker, Willibrord Reisdorf, Karl-Heinz Schmidt, H.-J. Schött, Matti Leino, R. Hingmann elements Hassium


In 1984, the team at Darmstadt synthesized three atoms of hassium-265 by bombarding lead-208 with iron-58 nuclei. The new atoms lasted only a moment then decayed into atoms of seaborgium-261.

Atomic number 108

Physicists talk about magic numbers at least for deformed nuclei, 108 for protons of deformed nuclei and 162 for neutrons of deformed nuclei, making the possibility that deformed hassium-270 has a magic stability, but sadly, all they really mean is that these numbers help fill all positions in the atomic shell, so that all its particles are in balance.

The parable of the amateur prospector

Prash Derf, renown automobile mechanic, became interested in rare elements toward the end of his life. He had always been a collector of unusual stones, and he had an intense interest in heavy ones, particularly if they shined or sparkled. One heavy stone in his garage glowed in the dark. It was difficult for Derf to ignore it. He kept thinking someone had left the light on. He took a chisel and broke off a few grains of it. He put these in an empty pickle jar into which he poured a cup of used battery acid. Derf read some science fiction, had been excited by the prospect of cold fusion, and believed in extraterrestial visits to Earth. He knew that unexpected discoveries could be made in the oddest places and could have big consequences for mankind. If he could have anything he wished, was anything too much to hope for? Wealth? World peace? Flying cars? An emerald gas evanesced from the pickle jar. Could this be volatile oxides of osmium? Derf thought he should name it L. Frank Baumium. But maybe it was primordial gasium. Put a gram of gasium in your car and you’ll never have to fill it up again. Derf felt an acrid taste in his throat. If he died of it, he would never know what killed him. But as it was, he opened his garage door and stood well back. After this near-death delusional experience, Prash Derf tested not another stone. His desire to discover new elements was over.

You cannot measure the melting point of a metal unless you can put two or more of them together long enough to heat them up. This has not been accomplished for hassium. However, some chemical properties have been confirmed by gas-phase experiments.

See also in The book of science:

Readings on wikipedia:

Other readings:

  • Hassium,” Elementymology & Elements Multidict, by Peter van der Krogt