Naming elements after scientists: an account of a controversy

Abstract

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).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Anon: Scientific events: moseleyum and the names of elements. Science 61, 510 (1925)

    Google Scholar 

  2. Anon: Discovery of the transfermium elements. Chem. Int. 16, 16–17 (1994)

    Google Scholar 

  3. Anon: Naming the transfermium elements. Chem. Int. 17, 3–5 (1995)

  4. Anon: IUPAC proposes names for transfermium elements. Chem. Int. 19, 68–69 (1997)

  5. Anon: Seaborgium: element 106 named in honor of Glenn T. Seaborg, LBL’s Associate Director at large. LBL Research Review, August 1994, available at: http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Research-Review/Magazine/1994/seaborgium-mag.html Cited 9 March 2007

  6. Bosenquet, C., Keeley, C.: Note on a search for the missing element no. 43. Phil. Mag. Ser. 6 48, 154–157 (1924)

    Google Scholar 

  7. Brown, S.S.: History of IUPAC 1988–1999, IUPAC (2001)

  8. Dagani, R.: Heavy-element nomenclature: ACS panel rejects names chosen by IUPAC. Chem. Eng. News. 72, 8 (21 November 1994a)

  9. Dagani, R.: Shuffling of heavy-element names by IUPAC panel provokes outcries. Chem. Eng. News. 72, 8 (5 December 1994b)

  10. Fennell, R.W.: History of IUPAC 1919–1987. Blackwell Science (1994)

  11. Fernelius, W.C., Loening, K., Adams, R.M.: Notes on nomenclature: names for elements. J. Chem. Educ. 52, 583–584 (1975)

    Google Scholar 

  12. Freemantle, M.: Heavy-element name saga ends. Chem. Eng. News. 75, 9–10 (8 September 1997)

  13. Freemantle, M., Dagani, R.: Heaviest elements named: IUPAC rejects ‘seaborgium’ for element 106. Chem. Eng. News. 72, 4–5 (10 October 1994)

  14. Hamer, R.: Moseleyum. Science 61, 208–209 (1925)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Heilbron, J.L.: H. G. J. Moseley. University of California Press, Berkeley (1974)

    Google Scholar 

  16. Huheey, J.E.: Heavy-element nomenclature. Chem. Eng. News. 73, 4 (16 January 1995)

    Google Scholar 

  17. Kaesz, H.: The synthesis and naming of elements 110 and beyond. Chem. Int. 24(2), http://www.iupac.org/publications/ci/2002/2402/elements110.html Cited 23 September 2007

  18. Koppenol, W.: H. Paneth, IUPAC, and the naming of elements. Helvetica Chimica Acta 88, 95–99 (2005)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Masson, I.: Letter to the editor. Nature 137, 545 (1925)

    Google Scholar 

  20. Paneth, F.A.: The making of the missing chemical elements. Nature 159, 8–10 (1947)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Seaborg, G.T., Seaborg, E.: Adventures in the atomic age: from Watts to Washington, p. 254. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York (2001),

    Google Scholar 

  22. Tripathi, S.K.: Heavy-element nomenclature. Chem. Eng. News 73, 5 (16 January 1995)

  23. van der Krogt, P.: Elementymology & elements multidict: names that did not make it. http://www.elements.vanderkrogt.net/didnot_index.html Cited 9 March 2007

  24. Weeks, M.E., Leicester, H.M.: Discovery of the chemical elements (7th ed.). J. Chem. Educ., pp. 820–823. Easton, PA (1968), together with the cited references 16 and 24, p. 828

  25. Zamaraev, K.I.: IUPAC recommendations on names and symbols of transfermium elements. Chem. Int. 18, 34 (1996)

    Google Scholar 

  26. Zingales, R.: From masurium to trinacrium: the troubled story of element 43. J. Chem. Educ. 82, 221–227 (2005)

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Geoff Rayner-Canham.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rayner-Canham, G., Zheng, Z. Naming elements after scientists: an account of a controversy. Found Chem 10, 13–18 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10698-007-9042-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Periodic table
  • Nomenclature
  • Elements
  • Moseleyum
  • Curium
  • Seaborgium