After a five month public review, the chemical element Ununtrium with the atomic number of 113 will be re-named “nihonium” due to the Japanese team that managed to create it in the laboratory.
The element itself is highly radioactive and has a half-life of only 20 seconds. As a result, this element doesn’t occur naturally and has to be synthesized in a laboratory.
A team of scientists at the Riken institute led by Professor Kosuke Morita of Kyushu University managed to do this by colliding zinc ions (30 protons) with bismuth (83 protons), the resultant element comprises of 113 protons and after creating it within the laboratory on at least three occasions, the team secured naming rights last year.
The reason why this is interesting in not only a scientific way but also pop-culturally, is that the famous super robot Mazinger Z uses a mysterious element called “japanium” in its construction.
In the Mazinger Z manga and anime, a meteorite collides with Mount Fuji in Japan. Depositing large amounts of a strange new element, a mining expedition led by Professor Juzo Kabuto discovers the new element and it is named after the country it was found in, hence japanium.
This element is also later used in the creation of Super Alloy Z, which is then used to construct the incredibly durable super robot Mazinger Z. Another aspect to japanium is that it can give off Photonic Energy, which bears some similarity to how radioactive elements breakdown.
While it is unlikely Go Nagai was thinking of Ununtrium, now nihonium, when he was writing Mazinger Z. The naming of this new element after Japan, much like with nihonium for this element, is something that manga and anime fans here have obviously picked up on.
The reality is that nihonium is too unstable an element to be used in the way it was in Mazinger Z and that in turn means a world without actual rocket punching super robots, which is a little saddening if I am honest.
At the very least though, Professor Morita and his team at the Riken institute have done excellent work and I am happy to see that they were able to get the element renamed.
As for Mazinger Z, it will be making an appearance in the upcoming Super Robot Wars V for PS4 and Vita next year.
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