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Americium(named after the continent of America), Am, 95, is a completely synthetic metal, originally made by bombarding plutonium with neutron radiation.

Americium today is isolated chemically from nuclear reactor byproducts, along with curium and several other peculiar trans-uranium(elements after uranium) elements. It is one of the most common trans-uranium elements, because it is used as an alpha particle source in smoke detectors, where americium oxide is applied to gold foil, and then plated with gold to prevent it from escaping. It's half-life is about 500 years, and it's decay product is neptunium, which is also radioactive.

Originally, uranium was named after the planet uranus, and was thought to be the heaviest possible element. However, a short time later, someone synthesized neptunium(named after the plantet Neptune) artificially, proving this wrong. Then, someone else believed that they had made the absolute last element, so they named it after the last planet, plutonium(because back then pluto was still a planet). Once this was also proven not to be the last possible element, they gave up the planet names, so the next one was named after America, americium.

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