The basic principle of creating super-heavy atoms is simple: smash the atoms of one element into those of another and their protons will add up to create a new element. Titanium's 22 protons will join berkelium's 97 to create an atom with 119 protons, one atom of element 119. Most of the time, though, the atoms will collide and shatter or partially destroy each other. But rarely, "less than once a month," the protons will collide to create a complete atom. Detecting such a rare occurrence is a challenge. "You will have to detect this one atom on a metal plate where more than 100,000 superfluous events are occurring each second," Omtvedt said. The only way to detect the new atom is to observe the radioactive radiation it emits when it decays. There will be no evidence of the new element until it's already gone.