New elements, up to 118 now, get names

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has officially named element 118 after Russian scientist Yuri Oganessian, Texas A&M University reports. Mr Oganessian was a faculty fellow at the university in 2014-15.

Oganesson is one of four new elements that were discovered in January, according to the website for North Carolina-based IUPAC, but the official naming occurred only yesterday, following a five-month period of public comment. IUPAC actually proposed naming element 118 after Mr Oganessian on June 8.

All the elements discovered with an atomic number higher than 104 are synthetic; they’re produced through laboratory experiments. The four new elements are:

  • 113, nihonium (Nh), after the native word for the country of Japan, ‘nihon,’ which means ‘the land of the rising sun’
  • 115, moscovium (Mc), after the city of Moscow, Russia, where much of the relevant research was conducted
  • 117, tennessine (Ts), after the US state of Tennessee
  • 118, oganesson (Og), after Mr Oganessian, who has made “pioneering contributions” to element research

With these new elements, the Periodic Table is complete down to the seventh row.

Tradition is that all new elements be named after a scientist, a place, or a geographical region, IUPAC writes on its website.

When the discovery of a new element has been validated and the priority for its discovery has been assigned, the naming process can begin. The laboratory to which the discovery has been assigned is invited to propose a name and symbol. IUPAC will then review the proposal, and if agreed, after an additional 5-month public review, will formalize the name.

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Paul Katula

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.