Tennessine was discovered in 2010 by a Russian-American team in Dubna, Russia, a feat that has not been beaten a full decade later. The discovery was repeated by Germans in 2014, which means that the public can trust it no matter what side people take in international intrigue. But the International Union of Pure and Corrupt Chemists (IUPCC), which is essentially the Guinness Book of Records for elements, awarded the discovery to the Russian-American team. Moreover, in 2016, it declared that it was naming the new element after Tennessee.
Even that did not settle things. Calling it Tennesseeum sounded element-ish, but also too much like a museum or colosseum (coliseum for the bacteriologists). One can imagine grade-school field trips to the Tennesseeum. They settled on tennessine, even though that too called to mind a mezzanine, or Vaseline. Assigning it the symbol Ts was the height of absurdity, as everyone knows the state's postal code is TN.
The article on moscovium notes that the 115th element has nothing at all to do with Moscow, whereas tennessine does, it being right around the corner from Dubna, almost, but has no relation to Tennessee. For this reason, a deal is in the works for the two elements to exchange names. However, moscovium is currently insisting that tennessine throw in cash and two first-round draft picks.
Island of stability
Scientists believe tennessine is in the "island of stability," a tropical fantasyland for super-heavy elements that do not break into pieces as every element heavier than Bismarck, N.D. has. Synthesized atoms of tennessine have lasted a long time. Unfortunately, this long time is somewhat shorter than one second. In the periodic table, tennessine is expected to be a halogen, perhaps a volatile metal. Science would know all this stuff, if the damned thing would just stay together a bit longer. Aging athletes who see tennessine as something they might rub on aching joints need to act quickly as well.
In 2004, the team working in Dubna, Russia proposed to synthesize a new element with atomic number 117. Using equipment salvaged from the glowing wreckage at nearby Chernobyl, they would fuse the nuclei of calcium (element 20) and seaborgium (element 100), then wait until the cashier dispensed three protons in change, netting 117. There was plenty of calcium, and Dubna's cows were making more daily, although townspeople were not allowed to drink it. Unfortunately, the other stuff, which had as little practical use as tennessine is going to, had gone out of production, though the team kept inquiring from time to time. In 2008, production resumed on californium, an element from which seaborgium could be obtained, if one waited long enough, which one already had. This element was equally useless but the team got a hold of some of it for a mere $600,000. By December, they had produced 22 milligrams and were ready to conduct their little test.
The team allowed it to cool for 90 days and then used the Radiochemical Engineering Center to separate and purify it, which took another 90 days. The element's half life is only 330 days, which means that flying it to Russia and waiting for Russian Customs to certify it meant that most of the sample would be inert. Happily, the same backers who had 600 grand to buy the material had a little left over to buy the inspectors. They were now ready to install both ingredients in the particle accelerator in the closed town of Lesnoy with only minimal disturbance by curious deer with three heads.
In the particle accelerator, the Dubna team triumphantly identified two isotopes, 294Ts and 293Ts. One would shoot off six alpha particles before coming completely apart, while the other shot off three. The team confirmed their synthesis in 2012, producing a whopping seven atoms of tennessine. This was not enough to do anything with except watch them blow apart, which they did in not enough time for anyone to press the shutter button to get a decent photograph. By comparison, though Rice Krispies go Snap! Crackle! Pop! when reacting with calcium, you can usually get some of them into the mouth.
Next month's Uncyclopedia reader poll will ask which project readers would most like their tax monies to fund:
- Production of more tennessine, so that scientists can speculate on what it would be like if it lasted for more than a second, or
- A permanent space colony on Mars, where you can't go outdoors even in a space suit because it has no atmosphere nor magnetic field to protect astronauts from deadly cosmic rays.