Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Element 117

Have you all heard that there’s a petition to name the recently discovered element 117 “Octarine” in honor of Terry Pratchett?

Octarine is being counted as ‘a mythological concept’ under IUPAC rules, which state that elements must be named after “a mythological concept or character; a mineral, or similar substance; a place or geographical region; a property of the element; or a scientist”. The Discworld stories are certainly stories about gods and heroes, and 70 million books surely count for something.

Kind of a snazzy proposal, even though as far as I know Pratchett had no particular interest in chemistry.

Also, it is a way more esthetically pleasing name than, get this, “Livermorium,” which is what poor element 116 got stuck with. This is after the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which was involved in its discovery, but good heavens, no offense to what is doubtless a fine laboratory, but what a dreadful name.

Element 117 is interesting, actually. As I suppose elements are if you take a good look at them.

The linear accelerator at the GSI laboratory in Germany accelerated calcium ions to 10 percent the speed of light to create element 117 . . . Element 117’s existence gives scientists hope, however, that they are getting closer to discovering a rumored “island of stability” where nuclei with so-called magic numbers of protons and neutrons become long-lived. it says here in this Scientific American post.

Leading the way in confirming the existence of element 117 is GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany. Let me just note that “Helmholtzazine” is hardly better than “Livermorium.”

“Octarine” would be much better.

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1 Comment Element 117

  1. James Pailly

    Ugh. Livermorium is a rather unfortunate name. I heard one of the other new elements (113 I think) might be named after Japanium, since it was discovered by a Japanese research team.

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