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After months of suspense, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has announced the proposed names for the four elements recently added to the periodic table.
Drum roll… introducing nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson.
IUPAC confirmed the new elements’ existences back in January 2016, and according to IUPAC rules, the groups responsible for the discoveries are each allowed to propose a name and symbol for their new element. However, there are a few rules: they can only be named after a mythological figure or concept, geographical place, scientist, element property, or a mineral or similar substance.
Element 113 is to be named nihonium (symbol Nh). The element was discovered by researchers at RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science located in Japan after they bombarded bismuth with zinc-70 nuclei in 2004 and 2012. Nihon is one of two ways to say “Japan” in Japanese, and it means “the Land of Rising Sun.” It will also be the first element with an East Asian name to appear on the periodic table.
The element with atomic number 115 has a proposed name of moscovium (symbol Mc), and for element 117, the name presented is tennessine (symbol Ts). After a collaboration between the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia and the Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories in the US, the elements were discovered in 2010. Both elements take their names from a geographical region.
Moscovium is named after the Russian capital city Moscow, which is also the home of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research. The experiments were conducted using the Dubna Gas-Filled Recoil Separator along with the heavy ion accelerator of the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions.
Tennessine is named as a tribute to the state of Tennessee, home of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where most superheavy element research is conducted in the US.
The same group also named element 118, organesson (symbol Og), in honor of Russian nuclear physicist and professor Yuri Oganessian who led the team that synthesized element 117. Oganessian’s achievements include the discovery of superheavy elements and significant advances in the nuclear physics of superheavy nuclei.
“Although these choices may perhaps be viewed by some as slightly self-indulgent, the names are completely in accordance with IUPAC rules,” said Jan Reedijk, president of IUPAC's inorganic-chemistry division, in a news release.
The names will now go through public scrutiny during a five-month long consultation process before IUPAC approves the final names. “It’s important for people around the world to review the names to make sure that they fit with all the different languages,” said Lynn Soby, IUPAC’s executive director, to Chemistry World. “Now the public and the scientific community can weigh in on things.”
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