Naming elements after scientists: an account of a controversy


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).

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Correspondence to Geoff Rayner-Canham.

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Rayner-Canham, G., Zheng, Z. Naming elements after scientists: an account of a controversy. Found Chem 10, 13–18 (2008).

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