On Element Discoveries

Part of the SpringerBriefs in History of Science and Technology book series (BRIEFSHIST)


While there is little ambiguity in the definition of a chemical element, it is far from evident what it means to have discovered a new element and what the criteria for discovery are. In the post-World War II era recognition of new elements was the responsibility of IUPAC, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, which also had the final decision regarding names. The synthesis of still more transuranic elements and the corresponding priority claims resulted in the mid-1980s in the so-called Transfermium Working Group (TWG) established jointly by IUPAC and the physicists’ union IUPAP. However, the recommendations of TWG only created more controversies. Another and earlier discovery controversy concerned element 102, the priority of which was claimed by Swedish, American and Russian research groups. Despite an extended controversy, the originally proposed name, nobelium, was accepted by IUPAC.


Discovery Chemical elements Priority Controversies IUPAC Transfermium working group Nobelium 


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Niels Bohr ArchiveNiels Bohr InstituteCopenhagenDenmark

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