Elementymology & Elements Multidict
In the story, element 120 was the start of a series of elements which were the reverse of unstable. Once synthesized, element 120 absorbed protons and neutrons from its enviroment and became element 121. 121 behaved similarly. The series of reactions continued until element 240 was created. element 240 split into two atoms of element 120.
The half life of the entire process was such that the human race had about a century to find a way to stop the reaction or expell all the problem elements into outer space.
The human race never managed to save themselves. The best they could do was create some almost human robots and send them into space. Their technology could not produce a Star Ship capable of supporting humans long enough to reach another solar system.
The robots were complex enough to build additional robots and had most human technology available to them. After much time & minor mistakes in building new robots to replace those worn out, the robots evolved into a complex civilization with some creation myths. They no longer had any knowledge of a biological creature who built the first robot. The minor errors acted in a fashion analogous to biological evolution.
Finally, some robot scientists synthesized DNA-like protoplasm, but saw no use for it. They poured it into his sink and it eventually reached the ocean. The implication was that biological evolution would start from that protoplasm.
It is just a fantasy, but perhaps should be suggested shutting down attempts to synthesize further trans-uranic elements.
From posts by "Dinosaur" on Sciforums.com. Who knows the author and title of this story?
There is a book by Karl Herbert Scheer, Ordnungszahl 120, published in 1957. A Dutch translation Atoomgetal 120 is from 1979 and French translation Élément 120 from 1977.
Maybe this is the book in question.
Germany summary from a Newsletter (no longer available):
"Auf der Rückseite des Mondes finden kernphysikalische Experimente
statt. Dabei wird ein neues Transuran entdeckt, das die »Ordnungszahl
120« erhält. Als es zusammen mit den Herstellungsunterlagen aus dem
Mondlabor verschwindet, wird Captain Thor Konnat, der Agent ZBV,
eingesetzt. Er soll das Element wiederfinden, um die Menschheit vor
einer Katastrophe zu bewahren."
This seems to be a different story.
© Peter van der Krogt