Four Elements Move Closer To Their Permanent Place On Periodic Table

Since very late December, we’ve known four elements known by the atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118 would complete the seventh row of the periodic table. Now, we know the proposed and, now probationary, names that they have been assigned. If you’re at all like me, you’ll now have to replace the periodic table shower curtain you bought from ThinkGeek after seeing it on “The Big Bang Theory” if only so I’m not berated by Dr. Sheldon Cooper for inaccuracies.

Elements Periodic Table

Five month probationary period for the newly named man-made elements

For now, nihonium (Nh), moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts) and oganesson (Og) are what you should used for 113, 115, 117 and 118 respectively.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, or IUPAC recognized the four elements that do not occur in nature on December 30, 2015. Following normal procedures the IUPAC asked the discoverers of each to name the elements with the understanding that they should translate to major languages easy and absolutely must end with “-ium,” “-ine,” or “-on” depending on their properties and group to which they belong.

There is little reason to believe that the names announced today won’t remain as each follows the practice of naming elements after something from myth including astronomical objects, a place or region on a map, a scientist, a property of the element, or a mineral or something similar to the element itself.

And now a public review of the names begins, expiring on November 8, 2016 before the names are made official. If you, for some reason that I can’t see, have strong feelings about the new names the IUPAC encourage you to share your thought, feedback or general physicist craziness here.

In addition to these newly named elements, scientists and researchers alike are working on the the eighth row as well as the consolidation of heavier elements including copernicum and how they are identified; when they are done those that do the work will have their own opportunity to name them with the same public review that this lot is undergoing.

Why these names?

Each of these four were created in labs and their place on the table was as temporary as their names given their quick decay rate and the difficulty in reproducing them.

In order, 113, now nihonium is a nod to a means by which to refer to “Japan” in Japanese and has the distinction of being the first element discovered in an Asian country. Specifically, the element was discovered by a group at the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science and led by professor Kosuke Morita. In order to “make” their element, and its subsequent discovery, began with “bombarding a thin layer of bismuth with zinc ions traveling at about 10% the speed of light.”

A Russian-American team at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California discovered the other three making their named debut on the chart this week.

Clearly, 115 and 117 are nods to their “place of origin” or at least the location of the labs where they were created.

Oganesson is a tip of the hat to professor Yuri Oganessian whose work with and discovery of super heavy elements was groundbreaking.

“Although these choices may perhaps be viewed by some as slightly self-indulgent, the names are completely in accordance with IUPAC rules,” a statement from Jan Reedijk, president of IUPAC’s inorganic chemistry division read. “In fact, I see it as thrilling to recognize that international collaborations were at the core of these discoveries and that these new names also make the discoveries somewhat tangible.”