Tuesday 14 June 2016

Nihonium + 3 = 118

Big news on the Periodic Table. on 8th June, IUPAC - the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry - announced 4 proposed names for recently discovered trans-Uranium elements.  In my days at school we had got as far as element 103 Lawrencium.  That was discovered independently and simultaneously and fairly controversially in 1965 by a team at Объединённый институт ядерных исследований in Дубна́  = Dubna just outside Moscow and one at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California. From about 1975, I stopped paying much attention to chemistry and so I'm a little surprised to hear that the naming ceremony applies to elements 113, 115, 117 and 118. That means that fully 15 new elements have been created (all the elements larger than 95 have to be created in laboratories) and characterised since left school. The names of the four elements are explained by Professor Martyn Poliakoff of Periodic Table of Videos

  • 113 Nihonium Nh - named for 日本 the Land of the Rising Sun Nihon because it was created in 2004 by a team at RIKEN the Japanese research institute.
  • 115 Muscovium Mc - the Russians and Americans had buried the hatchet in 2003 and a joint team created this element in 2003 at the JINR in Dubna.
  • 117 Tennessine Ts - was named for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The ending to to acknowledge it's column place in the table at the bottom of the halogens Fluorine chlorine, bromine, iodine, astatine. Indeed Ts was known as eka-astatine before it got it's current tribute name.  Before that it was prosaically called ununseptium.
  • 118 Oganesson Og - is named after Armenian nuclear physicist Յուրի Հովհաննիսյան or Юрий Цолакович Оганесян aka Yuri Oganessian. This is only the second time that an element has been named after a living person. Glenn Seaborg being the first to hold that honour. As with Tennessine, the ending shows that Og is a Nobel/inert Gas last of the series Neon Argon [prev] Krypton Xenon Radon [prev]; although there are now doubt as to whether it is a gas at room temperature like its lighter cousins.
Seaborg has probably done more than anyone to make headway into the wholly artificial world of trans-Uranium elements. Before he died, it was pointed out that you could send a letter to him by making a list of elements on the envelope.
Sb [106]
Lr [103] Lv [116]
Bk [97]
Cf [98]
Am [95]
But that would depend on the Post Office being scientifically literate, which Seaborg grew to believe was increasingly unlikely. In the Reagan years, he chaired the committee which released A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform which started with an overview of falling achievement, and widespread ignorance among American students; but also slated falling standards, grade-inflation and widespread ignorance among teachers. You cannot teach or learn science by being all vague on the details while hugging trees.

1 comment:

  1. There was a petition going around to name one of the new elements Octarine after the eighth colour in the rainbowvin honour of Terry Pratchett.