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What is Bohrium?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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Bohrium is a chemical element classified in the transactinide group on the periodic table of elements. Little is known about this element, as it can only be produced synthetically, and it is very short lived; the longest-lived isotope has a half life of around 22 seconds. Due to the expense involved in producing bohrium and the element's short life, no commercial uses have been developed for this element, although it is sometimes utilized in scientific research.

This element is produced by bombarding other elements such as bismuth. Using very precise scientific equipment, researchers can identify even minimal traces of bohrium isotopes, and learn a bit about their properties before they decay. Like other transactinide elements, bohrium is radioactive, and it is presumed to be metallic. Bohrium is also sometimes referred to as a transuranic element, meaning that it has an atomic number higher than that of uranium. Transuranic elements share a number of traits, including radioactivity and extreme instability which makes them difficult to study.

This element is identified with the symbol Bh, and it has an atomic number of 107. It is believed that bohrium shares a number of traits with rhenium, another metallic chemical element. You may also see bohrium referred to as unnilseptium, a temporary name given to the element by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry during a naming dispute.

Researchers in Russia claimed to have isolated the element in 1976; their efforts were confirmed by P. Armbuster and G. Munzenber at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung in West Germany in 1981. The German researchers were given the credit for discovery of the element, which they initially named nielsbohrium, after Niels Henrik David Bohr. Ultimately, this name was determined to be a bit awkward, and the element came to be known as bohrium, although researchers in Dubna, Russia also proposed “nielsbohrium” as a name for element 105, which was later named dubnium.

This element is potentially dangerous to human health, since it is radioactive, but it exists so briefly and in such small traces that its radioactivity is not a major concern. Ordinary people are unlikely to encounter bohrium, and the scientists who work with it use a number of precautions to minimize exposure to radiation. Researchers hope that continued study of this element may yield a more stable isotope, and perhaps reveal more about it.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All The Science researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon29837 — On Apr 09, 2009

Bohrium, the most boring element know to man. Its very shy and doesn't like to hang around. You have to bombard it with Bismuth just to coax it to show up for a few seconds. It doesn't have any uses and nobody likes it. There's not much to be said about Booohrium.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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