Scientists claim to have discovered the super-heavy element 122. The team led by Amnon Marinov (see photo) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have reported that their mass spectrometer has detected something with an atomic mass around 292, in purified thorium. They believe this is most likely a nucleus with 122 protons and 170 neutrons. To date, elements up to 118 have been reported. If the above claim is substantiated, it would represent a major breakthrough in super heavy element (SHE) research. The full paper can be downloaded from arXiv.org. Prof. Marinov gave a presentation on this work at the special one day event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Karlsruhe Nuclide Chart in Kalrsruhe in Dec. 2008 (see our blog post on this event).
However, in a recently reported search for long-lived isomeric states in neutron-deficient thorium isotopes, Lachner et al., Phys. Rev. C 78, 064313 (2008), found no evidence for the existance of such isotopes, despite a much higher sensitivity used in the experiment.