Nuclear physicists use known elements to create new ones. We want to understand the structure of matter, and thus to understand the development of the universe. At the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI), we use a particle accelerator to make two atomic nuclei collide at a speed of 30,000 kilometers per second. The fusion of these two nuclei creates a new, previously unknown element that we filter out using a separator and then investigate. The process of detecting these new elements is complicated. They are unstable, and they decay within a fraction of a second. That’s why I have to precisely calculate the energy with which the atomic nuclei are accelerated and adjust our instruments accordingly. We discovered three new elements in the 1980s, but after that we had to do ten years of development work to refine our detection method. In case you’re wondering if I ever lost my patience, my answer is “absolutely not”! We always had a lot to do, and we had set our sights on a clearly defined goal: being able to indisputably detect the next element. Our work was eventually successful.