The Geelong Advertiser
It might read like pidgin Latin from an Asterix comic but the first new element to be added to the Periodic Table _ chemistry's running list of the world's body parts _ has merit beyond its allusions to the classic dead language.
It's generally ascribed to that great thinker, anonymous, but also tentatively to one William DeBuvitz, a one-time US physics professor. A Google hunt will direct you to a multitude of websites and blogs with variations on the theme although they're generally faithful to one particular take. My favourite site's a purported Slovenian think tank whose mission is to promote free-market principles, limited government, individual freedom, free enterprises, rule of law, and individual initiative. There's quite a bit of that in Slovenia, if we remember rightly.
This great new element is said to have emerged some years back, following a fire in August 2000 at the apocryphal Los Alamos Laboratory where a secret bunker's security system was damaged. But we recall reports much earlier. DeBuvitz's version supposedly appeared in the January 1989 issue of The Physics Teacher . Maybe it did.
Anyway, this great element is said to be the heaviest element yet known to science. It's called governmentium (Gv) and enjoys something of a double life. In one form, it has a solitary neuron, 25 assistant neurons, 88 deputy neurons and 198 assistant deputy neurons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. In another, it has one neutron, 15 assistant neutrons, 35 deputy neutrons, 80 vice neutrons, 145 supervisory neutrons, 165 team leader neutrons and 225 consulting neutrons, giving it a devilish atomic mass of 666.
These 312 to 666 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are in turn surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.
Even a minute amount of governmentium can cause a reaction that might normally take less than a second to take from four days to four years to complete.
Governmentium has a normal half-life of two to six years; it does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which a portion of the assistant neurons and deputy neurons exchange places. In fact, governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganisation will cause more morons to become neurons, forming isodopes.
This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.
When catalysed with money, governmentium comes into a field truly its own. It morphs into administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.
Concentrations of governmentium have reportedly been found in locations such as houses of parliament and large corporations. It's especially drawn to universities. It can usually be found polluting the best appointed and best maintained buildings.
But a word of caution. Scientists warn that governmentium is known to be toxic and recommend plenty of alcoholic fluids followed by bed rest after even low levels of exposure.