Thursday 9 June 2016


The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) just presented four new names for hitherto unnamed elements—three for places: Japan, Tennessee and Moscow plus one in honour of Russian-Armenian physicist Yuri Tsolakovich Oganessian, responsible for discovering the heaviest elements on the periodic table.
Submitted for consideration for the public and the scientific community until November, these designations have not been finalized, and writing for The Verge, Elizabeth Lopatto has a few alternate proposals. Rather than Nihonium (Nh, which sounds rather bleak and nihilistic) for Ununtrium (eka-thallium or Element 113), Lopatto suggests Maneki-nekonium as most representative of Japanese culture, and introduces us to a new concept in the mono no aware (物の哀れ), an empathy for impermanence, like appreciating the fleeting beauty of cherry-blossoms and as poetic as Virgil’s characterization lacrimæ rerum—the tears of things, and an apt name as these new elements are all expected to be pretty unstable. Other ideas for Moscovium (Mc) include Kareninium (for Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina) and Honktonkine for Tennessine (Ts). What are your ideas? I cannot believe that another the latest naming-convention, science is allowing the public any input.