The Elusive End of the Periodic Table: Why Chase It?

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A Frontiers in Science Lecture to celebrate 2019, the International Year of the Periodic Table

For more than half a century, dedicated and eager groups of scientists have contrived ways to introduce heavier and heavier elements into the universe. Their efforts finally completed the seventh row of the famous—if poorly understood—periodic table of the chemical elements. 

Now all 118 elements have names, even though most spontaneously decay more quickly than you can say “Oganesson” or “Livermorium.” 

What now?  Continue?  Try to start another row?  Why?  To what end, and at what cost? 

This talk will explore the economic, societal, and scientific benefits and drawbacks inherent in this pursuit.

About the Speaker

Monica Halka is an experimental physicist whose research focused on the interaction of light with atoms. 

She has coauthored a set of six volumes on the periodic table, which examines historical, astrophysical, and practical observations about each of the chemical elements.

She serves as associate director of the Honors Program at Georgia Tech, where she teaches courses in optics, energy science, and the nuclear age, among others.

About Frontiers in Science Lectures
Lectures in this series are intended to inform, engage, and inspire students, faculty, staff, and the public on developments, breakthroughs, and topics of general interest in the sciences and mathematics. Lecturers tailor their talks for nonexpert audiences.

About the Periodic Table Frontiers in Science Lecture Series
Throughout 2019, the College of Sciences will bring prominent researchers from Georgia Tech and beyond to expound on little-discussed aspects of chemical elements:

  • Feb. 6, James Sowell, How the Universe Made the Elements in the Periodic Table
  • March 5, Michael Filler, Celebrating Silicon: Its Success, Hidden History, and Next Act
  • April 2, John Baez, University of California, Riverside, Mathematical Mysteries of the Periodic Table 
  • April 18, Sam Kean, Author, The Periodic Table: A Treasure Trove of Passion, Adventure, Betrayal, and Obsession 
  • Sept. 12, Monica Halka, The Elusive End of the Periodic Table: Why Chase It
  • October 31, Taka Ito, Turning Sour, Bloated, and Out of Breath: Ocean Chemistry under Global Warming 
  • Nov. 12, Margaret Kosal, The Geopolitics of Rare and Not-So-Rare Elements
Closest public parking for the April 2 lecture is Visitors Area 4, Ferst Street and Atlantic Drive, http://pts.gatech.edu/visitors#l3  
Refreshments are served, and periodic table t-shirts are given away, after every lecture


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:A. Maureen Rouhi
  • Created:05/03/2019
  • Modified By:A. Maureen Rouhi
  • Modified:07/10/2019