The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry released an announcement yesterday confirming the existence of elements 114 and 116. Researchers collaborating from Lawrence-Livermore in California and Dubna in Russia had announced their discoveries in 2004 and 2006, but only now has the IUPAC determined that their results meet the criteria to be considered new elements.
While still in their unconfirmed status, the elements were referred to as Ununquaduim (1-1-4-ium) and Ununhexium (1-1-6-ium), but now the researchers will be applying for official names to be given. Over the last few decades the trend has been to name new elements after pioneers in nuclear physics (Meitnerium, Mendelevium, Bohrium) or important research centers (Dubnium, Lawrencium, Darmstadtium). #112 was dubbed Copernicium, so perhaps we’ll see a Gallileum or Newtonium.
This confirmation means there will be gaps in the periodic table at 113 and 115, as there have not yet been enough observations of Ununtrium and Ununpentium to meet the IUPAC’s criteria.
Interestingly, 114 (or more specifically, isotope Uuq-298) is theorized to be a potential ‘island of stability’, with a half-life significantly longer than elements and isotopes surrounding it. So far, the most stable example observed has had a half-life of 2.6 seconds, although an possible isomer (an isotope of the same weight and structure, but with nucleons in a higher-energy state) may have a half-life of just over a minute. In comparison, the most stable observed example of 116 is Uuh-293, with a half-life of just 60 milliseconds.
Update (2012 Oct 9): Elements 114 and 116 have been given the names Flerovium (after Russian scientist Georgy Flyorov) and Livermorium (after the Lawrnce Livermore National Laboratory in California), respectively. The names were officially decided on earlier this year.