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General Info
Atomic Symbol Atomic symbol::Fm
Atomic Number Atomic number::100
Atomic Weight Atomic weight::257 g/mol
Chemical series Actinides
Appearance color-unknown
Group, Period, Block none, 7th, f-block
Electron configuration [Rn] 5f14
Electrons per shell 2 8, 18, 32, 32, 8
Electron shell fermium.png
CAS number CAS number::7440-72-4
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density Density::Unknown g/ml
Melting point Melting point::1800K
Boiling point Boiling point::Unknown
Isotopes of Fermium
iso NA half-life DT DE (MeV) DP
is stable with neutrons.
All properties are for STP unless otherwise stated.

Fermium(Fm), is a synthetic chemical element that was discovered in the fallout of the first hydrogen bomb detonation. It is a very radioactive element that is a rare alkali earth metal. Existing only in macroscopic amounts gives this element no uses, except for scientific research and understanding. Fermium is the one hundredth element in the periodic table (atomic number 100) and has no derived compounds, and no known density or appearance.


Fermium is a synthetic element and does not occur in nature - no known oceanic or crustal abundance. Fermium is in the actinides period and is a metal at room temperature.[1]. Fermium is a radioactive element which means it spontaneously gives off penetrating rays[2]. These rays can be extremely harmful if someone is exposed for a period of time, especially since Fermium has a strong radioactivity. It is the heaviest element that can be formed by neutron bombardment of lighter elements, and hence the last element that can be prepared in macroscopic quantities, although fermium metal has not yet been prepared [3]. Fermium currently only appears to have an oxidization state of +3. [4]


Enrico Fermi/origin of the name Fermium

In 1952, a team of scientists led by Albert Ghiorso discovered Fermium while studying radioactive debris produced by the that "Ivy Mike" nuclear test of a fusion device. The element was named after Enrico Fermi, a highly successful Italian scientist who previouly worked on the Manhattan project. The hydrogen device that produced Fermium was designed by Richard Garwin, a student of Enrico Fermi.[3] Garwin designed the "Mike" shot, which is the nuclear device or hydrogen bomb used in operation "Ivy". In the debris of this nuclear test, Albert Ghiorso led a team of scientists who discovered Fermium and Einsteinium. The Fermium produced in the nuclear blast had an atomic mass of 255 and only lasted twenty hours. The most stable isotope, with an atomic mass of 257, lasts just over 100.5 days.

The "Ivy Mike" experiment was only the first experiment to create Fermium. Fermium can also be created by performing many nuclear reactions like the bombardment of lighter actinides with neutrons in a nuclear reactor. Fermium-257 is the heaviest isotope that is obtained via neutron capture.[3] In addition, a group from the Nobel Institute of Physics in Stockholm bombarded 238U with 16O ions, and isolated a 30-min alpha-emitter, which they ascribed to 250Fm[5]


Fermium has only produced in extremely small portions and even the most stable of isotopes has a half life of 101.5 days. Fermium is a synthetic and radioactive element that is hard to produce, and does not have any usable isotopes that exist for very long. Currently, Fermium has no compounds that are known. Rare elements such as Fermium that have large electron shells are harder to put into a compound then others and since it has not been thoroughly tested enough to where scientists can find a compound or use for Fermium, it remains useless [6] . Although, once the Fermium has decayed enough , it turns to Californium which has many uses. However because of these problems, beyond scientific research, Fermium has no uses. [7]

Ivy Mike

The mushroom cloud of the "Ivy Mike" hydrogen bomb

"Ivy Mike" is the name of the united states operation in which the first hydrogen bomb was detonated by the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in 1952. The fallout of the explosion spread out over a large coral atoll of 40 islands in the Pacific Ocean called Enewetak Atoll. This is where the American scientists discovered Fermium, and other elements in the debris. Fermium was not the only element discovered, Einsteinium was also discovered during the test. Einsteinium was the ninety ninth element discovered and since the Ivy Mike test was such a good breakthrough it was only a matter of time before Fermium was discovered. The test was a success and the world entered the thermonuclear era, which is the age of nuclear technology. At the time, the hydrogen bomb was the biggest explosive device conceived and this project proved that such a bomb could be produced. The bomb itself produced a ten megaton blast and the fireball was approximately 3.5 miles. The event was filmed, ground zero was carefully investigated, and while they were investigating the surrounding area, they discovered the ninety-ninth and one hundredth element. This massive destructive force was a large leap in war, chemistry, and science [8].


  1. Gagnon, Steven. The Element Fermium. Jefferson Labs. Accessed November 3, 2011
  2. Cox, Heather E, Thomas E. Porch, and John S. Wetzel. Chemistry for Christian Schools. Greenville, S.C: Bob Jones University Press, 2000. page 502. Print.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Fermium. Wikepedia. Accessed October 20, 2011
  4. Author unknown, Fermium,,, November 17, 2011
  5. (Author unknown, Fermium,,, November 17, 2011)
  6. Author unknown, Fermium Compounds, web elements,, November 17, 2011
  7. Gagnon,Steven,The Element Fermium, Jefferson Labs,,3 November,2011
  8. Ivy Mike. Wikipedia. Accessed November 1, 2011. Author unknown.