Thanks to recent discoveries, the periodic table is now a little more complete.

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In the coming months, the four new elements will receive official names and instantly render every chemistry textbook out of date.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

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.