September 9, 1958

CALIFORNIUM: Geneva, 5 – There was great interest today in an announcement that American scientists had succeeded in acquiring a quantity – that is large enought to be weighed – of the new rare, metallic chemical element, californium, with the atomic number 97 (Ed. note: now 98, and known by the symbol Cf). This quantity is 6/100 of a millionth of a gram and costs at least one million dollars. The scientists isolated and quadrupled a quantity of the element 96, called berkelium. The project took six whole years. The element is highly explosive, emits neutrons and if acquired in sufficient quantities could be used to make a super-bomb. It is estimated that within two years, half of the quantity of californium will be broken up and dissipate in the form of radioactivity. According to the announcement, prior to the atomic age only 92 elements were known. Now there are 102 and a 103rd is being researched. It is hoped that up to 108 elements will be discovered. These new elements however, will be so radioactive that they will disappear almost immediately. Californium is known as isotope californium-252 and has another related element, californium-254, which scientists believe is formed in supernovas, those giant explosions of disappearing, distant stars.

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