Sunday, June 21, 2009

Discovery of element 112

More at PeriodicVideos

Element 112, Ununbium, has been discovered just recently!

I think it's a great breakthrough for Chemistry but a great downturn for etymology.

Apparently, they fired atoms of Zinc-30 and Lead-82 at each other in a particle accelerator and they happened to fuse to form an atom with a nucleon number of 112. I think the atom lasted for a fraction of a second and then decayed. Its short life still concludes its existence. I think this is great for chemistry because now one can create an atom, which may be rare, by colliding two other atoms whose nucleon numbers add up to the nucleon number of the rare one.

As much as a breakthrough it is, I do feel the naming system by IUPAC is quite odd. Let me share my thoughts.I always wondered why there were strange names like these in the periodic table, with such periodicity too; there being 5 elements named in this "Unun..." manner. This video explains it. Un refers to 1 and bi refers to 2. So basically Ununbium refers to 1-1-2 or element 112. It is just a number name without historical significance. Not exactly etymological, is it?

I wonder why are they named after their numbers, why not naming it after great scientists who have yet to be honoured?

An amusing thought just came to my mind. Imagine everybody were to be named after our birthday date in the same manner as the new elements! There would probably be a couple of million or more people with the same name. Moreover, imagine how long they'd be! Someone born on the 1st of January, 1993, would be named, Unununnannantrium. Imagine pronouncing that!

Well, I hope the scientists at IUPAC will reconsider their nomenclature.


  1. Obviously, you are very interested in the subject! Do you intend to discover an element yourself? In 10 years, it'll be time to stop wondering how and try it yourself (= im sure you'll do it! I will try to give an explanation to why scientists use numbers for nomenclature. Good question tho! Ask mr. prem haha

  2. Nice blog Atreya...Guess u couldn't update it cos of lack of time...too much hw right! But very cool and interesting information....:)