The year has got off to a great start in the chemistry world, as researchers from the U.S., Russia, and Japan formally add not one but four new elements to the periodic table, completing the seventh row.
So who are these superheavy newcomers? The new elements, 113, 115, 117 and 118, all took their place with their fellow row seven inhabitants, but we’ll have to wait for catchier names—the scientists who synthesised them will now get to suggest what they should be called, before the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) formally names them.
Already ideas are pouring in; a petition to name element 117 “octarine” (with the symbol ‘Oc’) after the fictional color of magic from the late Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels has gained over 40,000 signatures. Elsewhere, the name “lemmium”, as a tribute to Motörhead’s Lemmy, has been mooted as an appropriate name for a super heavy metal…
Before these four, the most recent new elements were added in 2011—numbers 114 and 116, which eventually took their places as flerovium and livermorium, named for the research institutes where the work was carried out.
Other than the names, we will have to wait to find out the characteristics and properties of these heavy, short-lived elements, and the challenge will now be to look to elements 119 and beyond… so watch this space!