Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 13-18

First online:

Naming elements after scientists: an account of a controversy

  • Geoff Rayner-CanhamAffiliated withChemistry Department, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University Email author 
  • , Zheng ZhengAffiliated withChemistry Department, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University

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Over the last two hundred years, there have been many occasions where the name of a newly-discovered element has provoked controversy and dissent but in modern times, the naming of elements after scientists has proved to be particularly contentious. Here we recount the threads of this story, predominantly through discourses in the popular scientific journals, the first major discussion on naming an element after a scientist (Moseley); the first definitive naming after a scientist (Curie); and the first naming after a living scientist (Seaborg).


Periodic table Nomenclature Elements Moseleyum Curium Seaborgium