Students, scientists and community members hang out on Livermorium Day

Jun. 2, 2014

Students, scientists and community members hang out on Livermorium Day

Anne M Stark, stark8@llnl.gov, 925-422-9799

Livermore students virtually got up close and personal with Lawrence Livermore scientists and Livermore Mayor John Marchand on the anniversary of Livermorium Day.

Established in 2013, Marchand decreed May 30 as Livermorium Day to recognize the naming of element 116, which was named after the City Livermore and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

During a Google Hangout, a type of online videoconference, students from Christensen Middle School and Granada High School had the opportunity to quiz LLNL scientists Narek Gharibyan and Mark Stoyer on the discovery of Livermorium, the periodic table and careers in science and engineering. Mayor Marchand, a chemist by training, also responded to questions. Members of the community also participated at the Livermore Public Library.

The naming of element 116 as Livermorium "is a career highlight for me," Marchand said.

Students asked questions such as how long did it take to discover element 116, what do we know about it and are there any applications.

"Element 116 lasts less than a second, but we can see what its behavior is and its chemical properties," Gharibyan said. And though there are no applications for Livermorium yet, it could be something useful in the future. For example, upon the discovery of the element Americium, scientists didn't know at the time that it would eventually be used in smoke detectors.

A Granada High School student asked about the island of stability, the elusive area of the periodic table where newly discovered elements would become more stable.

"We don't know where that point is," Stoyer said. "We have to ask ourselves where the end of the periodic table is."

Livermorium is the most recently named heavy element to sit on the periodic table. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) on May 31, 2012 officially approved new names for elements 114 and 116, the latest heavy elements to be added to the periodic table.

Scientists of the Lawrence Livermore Dubna collaboration proposed the names as Flerovium for element 114, with the symbol Fl, and Livermorium for element 116, with the symbol Lv, late last year.

Scientists at LLNL have been involved in heavy element research since the Laboratory's inception in 1952 and have been collaborators in the discovery of six elements -- 113,114,115,116,117 and 118.

Later in the day, a celebration was held at Livermorium Plaza, which is serendipitously located at 116 South Livermore Ave. Marchand unveiled three conceptual Livermorium artworks. Later this year, council members will choose one of the three designs for a piece of art to be displayed at Livermorium Plaza.

"This is truly a great accomplishment in the field of science but also as part of the community," said Glenn Fox, LLNL's associate director of Physical and Life Sciences.