Some elements you never heard of were given new names this week. Elements 113, 115, 117 and 118, were named nihonium, moscovium, tennessine and oganesson respectively. These elements were all synthesized in carefully designed experiments using sophisticated particle accelerators.
You’ll never see them on food labels or traded as commodity metals. In fact, they are so short lived they last just long enough for scientists to confirm they briefly existed.
Does that mean the miraculous metals of science fiction are impossble? Will there ever be a Vibranium of Captain America’s shield or the Duranium and Tritanium of Star Trek’s Enterprise? Will science find a way to make something like them? First, a brief survey of the elements we know and how they came to be.