Foundry Habitat Module B, Lunar Orbit, 7/13/38 T.A.D. – The asteroid mining industry continues to make waves, not only in the world’s economy but now in the very fabric of scientific understanding. Celestial Foundry, the pioneering corporation responsible for the groundbreaking Solaris Centrifugation mining technology, has announced the discovery of a previously unknown element within the asteroid samples: the as-yet unnamed element 121.
“The discovery was initially flagged as a sampling error during routine analysis of the crude output from our mining operations,” says Dr. Cindy Two-Flowers, Celestial Foundry’s Head of Material Science. “Jerry – that’s the technician who analyzed the sample – he could barely get the story out, he was so excited! We were assaying the iridium content of the sample. Instead we found this amazing element.”
The company has yet to gather enough of the new element to form a macro-scale sample, but scientists were able to analyze a minuscule amount collected during the destructive analysis. “We detected the presence of element 121 as a superheated gas during the high-energy analysis process,” explains Dr. Bill Bonavendi, a senior chemist at Celestial Foundry.
The discovery of this new element has sparked excitement in the scientific community because it appears to reside within the theorized “island of stability.” This concept in chemistry suggests that some superheavy elements may have relatively long lifetimes due to their unique nuclear structures, despite generally being believed to be short-lived. The island of stability is a region in the periodic table where these stable, superheavy elements are predicted to exist.
“The island of stability has long been a tantalizing concept for chemists,” says Dr. Aria Wu, a theoretical chemist at the University of California, Berkeley. “The discovery of this element, if it indeed resides within the island of stability, would be concrete proof that stable superheavy elements are possible in nature.”
Speculation is rife about the origins of this mysterious element, with leading researchers suggesting it might have been formed during high-mass, high-energy cosmic events, such as collisions between neutron stars. “The rarity of this element is most likely due to the extreme conditions necessary for its formation,” says Dr. Two-Flowers.
The excitement surrounding the discovery extends beyond Celestial Foundry’s research team, as the wider scientific community eagerly awaits the opportunity to study the element. “This could open up new avenues in material science, energy production, and space exploration,” notes Dr. Lila Chaudhary, a professor of astrophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Earth.
As for naming the new element, it is currently referred to by its atomic number, pending the official decision from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). Within the ranks of Celestial Foundry, several unofficial names have gained popularity, including Keplerium, Galileum, and Copernicum, all inspired by pioneering astronomers.
This correspondent, however, prefers another unofficial entry: Caelium, derived from the Latin word for sky or heaven.