At the time we're making this video, December 2016,
it is probably a unique time for the periodic table in any of your lifetimes
because the name of four different elements,
nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson,
have all been announced simultaneously, and it is extremely unlikely that this will happen again,
four elements at once, for very long time, if ever.
Now, oganesson, element 118, is special for a number of different reasons.
The first thing which makes it very special
is that it is the last element on the Mendeleev
form of the periodic table. It completes a row.
The second point is that it is only the second element that has been named after living scientist.
and the third point is that it is a noble gas, and so will have particularly interesting properties.
And fourthly, and the thing which I find most interesting, is that there was a case of scientific fraud or
at least, scientific irregularity earlier on when a lab claimed to have discovered this element
and then had to retract, that is, say they were wrong.
So this element, oganesson, has been named in honor
of the very famous nuclear chemist or perhaps physicist
in Russia, Yuri Tsolakovich (Tsolakovich means "son of Tsolak") Oganessian
He is a pioneer and very long-time researcher in Dubna, the research center to the north of Moscow.
The only other element that was named after a living scientist was seaborguim,
named after Glenn T. Seaborg,
who was the discoverer of plutonium and several other elements.
There is a slight difference because oganesson
does not have quite the whole of Oganessian's surname in it,
but I think this is a trivial difference.
And it has often been said that having an element named after you
is much better than winning a Nobel Prize
because Nobel Prize winners get forgotten pretty quickly,
whereas your name is on the wall of nearly every schoolroom in the world.
Well, at least every science lab in the world, so it's a terrific memorial.
There's a bit of argument whether Einstein was told on his deathbed
that an element was going to be named after him,
but the formal naming was after his death,
and anyway, he didn't discover or contribute to the discovery of the element
so I don't think that counts.
I have not yet met Yuri Tsolakovich,
but I hope that we will meet in 2017,
and if we do there will be plenty of videos to mark it.
I think it is a terrific name, and I fully support it.
It is interesting because the name ends in "on," O-N,
which is the ending that is used for the names of all the noble gasses
except helium, which does end with "I-U-M."
The interesting thing is that as these gasses get heavier,
they are going to be much less volatile.
that is, they are going to be harder, if you like, for them to take off,
like it's harder for a jumbo jet to take off than for a glider.
If anything the evidence for element 118 is more secure
than for most other elements in this region of the periodic table,
and there is a reason why people want to be absolutely sure,
because in the late 1990s there was a claim from America
that element 118 had been synthesized.
You have to understand that the output from an experiment
is huge quantities of data from a detector, stored in a computer,
and then you have data analysis programs that look for the results of
decays of these different elements.
And all being well, you might discover 1 or 2 or 3 decays, but not very many.
What appears to have happened in this case is that one of the researchers,
a Bulgarian physicist called Ninov appears to have
in some way either changed the data or changed the algorithm
so it appeared that element 118 had been discovered.
After two or three years, it was decided that the experiments could not be duplicated.
Other labs tried to do it and couldn't find any trace from their particular recipe.
And also, even looking at the original data,
people couldn't reproduce the analysis, and so the original paper was withdrawn.
I think this is an enormously important lesson to all of you who are doing science.
You should enjoy the results you get,
and you should not try and fiddle the results,
or massage the data to try and make them better.
Because first of all, if you're found out it will destroy your reputation,
but most important of all, the joy of doing science is to understand nature;
to understand how matter behaves.
And if you cheat, you don't understand anything,
so it removes all the joy and excitement of doing science.
The other reason that people have got so excited about element 118,
oganesson, is that it completes the Mendeleev periodic table.
You have a nice complete row, and it looks as if it's finished.
And several people already asked me is there gonna be any more,
element 119, element 120?
And quite conveniently, my answer is on this Japanese tea towel,
where you can see, if you draw the periodic table like this,
it's not actually finished at 118 because
119 and 120 are there on the right-hand side.
So... Brady -- But either way we could...
Even if we use the traditional Mendeleev-style one,
We could just start a new row, couldn't we?
Prof. Poliakoff -- Yes, of course we could start a new row.
The advantage of this format is that it shows us
that there's nothing special about 118 being the last one,
and it gives us encouragement to keep going.
You could, of course, say in the Mendeleev format,
"Well, you know, it's complete. We're never gonna be able to do it."
Whereas if you look here you can see it's quite reasonable.
I very much hope that in the next year or so,
that the first glimmers of a result for 119 --
or more probably 120, because if you look at the history of the periodic table,
the even elements seem to be discovered before the odd ones --
I think there is a real chance that we will keep going.
And nobody will be more excited than I am!
Well, perhaps Yuri Tsolakovich Oganessian may be EVEN more excited.
Brady - ...five years in the job! Can you imagine what that must be like?
Prof. Poliakoff - Yeah Brady - That's nothing, because the longest-serving
Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society
is that man behind us, a very famous scientist. This is Thomas Young.
Prof. Poliakoff - And my great hero, because he was such a good Foreign Secretary.
Brady - Now Professor, clearly I don't have to introduce you to Keith, because here's a little secret, viewers...