The periodic table of elements is seen by millions of people every single day.

It's an iconic image and the tried-and-tested map of chemistry.


Also available in placemat, coffee mug, and shower curtain. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

It's in basically every science classroom in the world along with that skeleton that your teacher named Boney, Skinny, Jerry, or whatever.

"Class, we have a new student today. His name is Jimmy McRib." Photo by Douglas Grundy/Three Lions/Getty Images.

What you may not know is that the periodic table is incomplete.

Well, sort of. There's no real limit to the amount of chemical elements there can be. Elements are discovered and identified by the amount of protons in their nuclei. For example, hydrogen: one proton in its nucleus. Lithium: three protons in its nucleus. Iridium: 77 protons in its nucleus, and so on.

So far, we've been able to observe and name over 100 elements and organize them by that atomic number into the periodic table — with only a few blank spots in the seventh row.

113, 115, 117, and 118 (in grey) were left unidentified until now. 114 and 116 were added in 2011.

On Dec. 30, 2015, scientists from around the world could officially, finally, fill in those blank spots.

Elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 were officially discovered and assigned by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), a U.S.-based agency that oversees global chemical nomenclature, terminology, and measurement.

The seventh-row "superheavy" elements are the first to be added to the periodic table since 114 and 116 back in 2011.

Until now, they remained theoretical and were given placeholder names like 117's "ununseptium," which means "one-one-seven" in Latin.

The new elements can be discovered in particle accelerators similar to the famous Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images.

There's little you can do with these superheavy elements, as they don't occur in nature and are incredibly unstable, decaying faster than you can even think about blinking.

However, a popular theory among scientists is that the more we learn about superheavy elements, the closer we get to a so-called "island of stability" wherein large atoms don't immediately decay and can possibly become useful.

In the coming months, the four new elements will receive official names and instantly render every chemistry textbook out of date.

Elements 115, 117, and 118 were credited to and will be named by teams of Russian and American scientists.

Element 113, however, is its own underdog story.

In 2003, Japanese scientists at RIKEN began "bombarding a thin layer of bismuth with zinc ions traveling at about 10% the speed of light," you know, like you do.

The result of that experiment was a single, fleeting glimpse of an element with an atomic number of 113. They kept at it, and eventually created 113 several more times.

While it only lasted less than a thousandth of a second, it was enough for the IUPAC to give Japan its first naming rights to an element.

Kosuke Morita, the proud dad of element 113. Photo by Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images.

According to Kosuke Morita, Japan's RIKEN team leader, the honor of naming an element is "of greater value than an Olympic gold medal" for scientists.

Naming an element isn't like naming a bridge. When you name an element, you're putting your stamp on a fundamental and permanent building block of the universe. You've cemented your place in history.

I just hope Morita and his team come up with a better name for 113 than your science teacher did for that skeleton.

True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less

Yuri has a very important message for his co-workers.

While every person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is different, there are some common communication traits that everyone should understand. Many with ASD process language literally and have a hard time understanding body language, social cues, exaggeration and cultural cues.

This can lead to misunderstandings that result in people with ASD appearing to be rude when it wasn't their intent. If more neurotypical people (those without ASD) better understood these communication differences, it’d be much easier for everyone to get along.

A perfect example of this problem and how to fix it was shared by Yuri, a transmasc person who goes by he/they, who posts on TikTok about having ADHD and ASD. In a post that has more than 2.3 million views, Yuri claims he was “booked for a disciplinary meeting for being a bad communicator.”

Keep Reading Show less

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less

Prior to baby formula, breastfeeding was the norm, but that doesn't mean it always worked.

As if the past handful of years weren't challenging enough, the U.S. is currently dealing with a baby formula crisis.

Due to a perfect storm of supply chain issues, product recalls, labor shortages and inflation, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with formula demand and retailers are rationing supplies. As a result, families that rely on formula are scrambling to ensure that their babies get the food they need.

Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

That might seem logical, unless you understand how breastfeeding works and know a bit about infant mortality throughout human history.

Keep Reading Show less

Emily Calandrelli was stopped by TSA agents when she tried to bring her ice packs for pumped milk through airport security.

Traveling without your baby for the first time can be tough. And if you're breastfeeding, it can be even tougher, as you have to pump milk every few hours to keep your body producing enough, to avoid an enormous amount of discomfort and to prevent risk of infection.

But for Emily Calandrelli, taking a recent work trip away from her 10-week-old son was far more challenging than it needed to be.

Calandrelli is a mom of two, an aerospace engineer and the host of the Netflix kids' science show "Emily's Wonder Lab." She was recently taking her first work trip since welcoming her second child, which included a five-hour flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. Calandrelli is breastfeeding her son and had planned to pump just before boarding the plane. She brought ice packs to keep the milk from spoiling during the flight, but when she tried to go through airport security, the TSA agents refused to let her take some of her supplies.

Keep Reading Show less