Monday, October 5, 2009

The name ‘copernicium’ has been suggested for the chemical element with atomic number 112

In a recent interview with Nachrichten aus der Chemie [1], physicist Sigurd Hofmann of the Center for Heavy Ion Research (GSI Helmholtz-Zentrum für Schwerionenforschung) in Darmstadt, Germany, whose international group (a total of 21 scientists) discovered and produced (a few atoms of) the element 112 in 1996, explains, why they proposed the name copernicium. He says that many names of theoretical as well as experimental physicists, who did outstanding work in atomic and nuclear physics, have already been taken and are present in the Periodic Table of Elements: for example, Nils Bohr with bohrium (element 107 with symbol Bh), Lise Meitner with meitnerium (element 109 with symbol Mt), or Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen with roentgenium (element 111 with symbol Rg). Hofman continues that this time his group wanted to go further back in history. They came across Nicolaus Copernicus, who, at the end of the middle ages and the beginning of modern times, significantly influenced the way in which we see the world (universe) today.
Symbols Cn and Cp have been proposed for element 112, assuming copernicium is going to become its name. A decision by IUPAC, which would finalize the acceptance of copernicium as the systematic element name, can be expected in 2010. Until then, the temporary name ununbium with the three-letter symbol Uub continues to be the name for this transition metal, for which isotopes with half-lifes (half-lives) in the seconds and milliseconds range have been synthesized. If synthesized in substance amount, ununbium is predicted to be liquid at room temperature, exhibiting similarity with mercury (element 80 with symbol Hg). Mercury is also known as quicksilver and shares—in the element coordination of the Periodic Table— a diagonal relationship with silver. Since the chemical element gold (Au) and ununbium also show such a diagonal relation, quickgold makes an analogical name alternative for element 112—just for the unlikely case that copernicium does not come through.

[1] Element 112: Ich trage einen großen Namen. Nachrichten aus der Chemie September 2009, Volume 57, page 851.
[2] ‘Copernicium’ Proposed As Name For Newly Discovered Element 122 (Science Daily) .
[3] Welcome ‘Copernicium,’ our Newest Element (Universe Today).
[4] Periodic Table of Elements including element 112 (Table annotations in German, symbols of chemical elements international)
[5] R. Eichler, W. Brüchle, R. Buda, S. Bürger, R. Dressler, Ch. E. Düllmann, J. Dvorak, K. Eberhardt, B. Eichler, C. M. Folden III, H. W. Gäggeler, K. E. Gregorich, F. Haenssler, D. C. Hoffman, H. Hummerich, E. Jäger, J. V. Kratz, B. Kuczewski, D. Liebe, D. Nayak, Nitsche, D. Piguet, Z. Qin, U. Rieth, M. Schädel, B. Schausten, E. Schimpf, A. Semchenkov, S. Soverna, R. Sudowe, N. Trautmann, P. Thörle, A. Türler, B. Wierczinski, N. Wiehl, P. A. Wilk, G. Wirth, A. B. Yakushev and A. von Zweidorf: Attempts to chemically investigate element 112. Radiochim. Acta 2006, 94, 181-191. DOI: 10.1524/ract.2006.94.4.181.
[6] R. C. Barber, H. W. Gäggeler; P. J. Karol, H. Nakahara, E. Vardaci and E. Vogt: Discovery of the Element with Atomic Number 112 (IUPAC Technical Report). Pure Appl. Chem. 2009, 81 (7), 1331-1343.
DOI: 10.1351/PAC-REP-08-03-05.

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