January 16 - Today in Science History


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(source) In 1953, a sample amounting to about 200 atoms of fermium (Fm, atomic number 100) was first discovered by ion-exchange chromatography and identified at the University of California, Berkeley. Like einsteinium, fermium was first isolated from the debris of the Nov 1952 test of the hydrogen-bomb (called the “Mike” event, conducted at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Ocean). Samples of debris were collected by drone aircraft flying through the cloud. For security reasons, it was kept secret until 1955 [See Phys. Rev., 99,1048 (1955)]. Because it is so short-lived, scientists doubt that enough fermium will ever be obtained to be weighed. Fermium was the eighth transuranium element of the actinide series to be discovered, and was named in honour of Enrico Fermi.

In celebration of my 100th post, I present Element 100, Fermium. Why? Fermium was first discovered in the fallout of the very first Hydrogen Bomb test ever conducted, and its very existence on Earth (outside of a lab) relies on the most destructive weapon ever built by man. Food for thought…

More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermium