Until the Dubna experiments all artificial superheavy nuclei had half-lives that were measured in milliseconds. However, the most stable nuclei on the island of stability are predicted to have half-lives of years. The first isotope of element 114 to be discovered - the one with 175 neutrons - has a half-life of 30 seconds, while its lighter sibling has a half-life of 5 seconds. Elements 116 and 118 are much less stable, decaying in milliseconds.

The first isotope of element 114 was created by colliding plutonium-244 and calcium-48 nuclei. Creating enough of these isotopes for the experiments was difficult because plutonium is highly toxic and radioactive, while calcuim-48 is extremely rare. There is also only a very small probability that superheavy elements will be created and then survive in the collisions. In the first set of experiments at Dubna, only one event out of a total of 5.2 x 1018 events over 34 days resulted in element 114. The lighter isotope was produced by colliding calcium-48 and plutonium-242. During this run some 7.5 x 1018 calcium ions were directed at the plutonium target over a period of 32 days, and 4 events were detected.