Four superheavy elements get official names

Element 117 on periodic table
Element 117 was named tennessine in recognition of Tennessee’s contributions to its discovery. (ORNL Photo)

After months of review, the world’s authority on chemical names has approved the official labels for four extremely rare elements at the bottom of the periodic table.

This week’s decision from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, or IUPAC, will literally rewrite chemistry textbooks. Here are the names and symbols that chemists will have to keep in mind from now on. …

Find out about the names and their meanings on GeekWire.


Four new elements added to periodic table

Image: Element 117
A computer graphic shows how the collision of calcium ions and berkelium atoms produces atoms of Element 117. (Credit: University of California Television)

The scientific body in charge of chemistry’s periodic table has verified the discoveries of four elements – completing the seventh row of the century-old chart.

For now, the elements are known as ununtrium (Element 113), ununpentium (Element 115), ununseptium (Element 117) and ununoctium (Element 118). It’ll be up to the newly recognized discoverers to propose the officlal names. The numbers denote how many protons are in the element’s nucleus.

At least one of the elements was synthesized more than a decade ago, but it took years for the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, or IUPAC, to confirm the evidence.

“A particular difficulty in establishing these new elements is that they decay into hitherto unknown isotopes of slightly lighter elements that also need to be unequivocally identified,” Paul Karol, a Carnegie Mellon University chemist who chairs the panel in charge of sorting out the discovery claims, said in IUPAC’s Dec. 30 announcement.

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