Four New Element Names

14LaAc_periodic_table_IIbScience News and Research

What is black, white, occasionally color coded, and is something that changes frequently? Are you stumped? Welcome to the periodic table of elements, the cornerstone of chemistry. Biologists, chemists, and students alike use it for referencing all the chemical elements known to man. Containing everything from carbon to iron to even radium, the periodic table is one of the most elegantly informational and useful tools that humans have ever constructed.

In December of last year, the discovery of four new elements was officially recognized. These were elements 113, 115, 117, and 118. Note that these are man-made elements that last for a tiny fraction of a second, and also note that the atomic number of an element, such as 113, is the amount of protons in its nucleus. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) verified the discoveries, but the names of each element were yet to be announced. According to tradition, the scientist(s) that discover an element get to name it, and it is almost always named after the discoverer, his/her research institute, or his/her geographical location. Once names are proposed, the IUPAC reviews them for five months, and then hopefully approves.

Scientists at RIKEN in Wako, Japan, had the privilege of naming element 113. They decided to call it “nihonium”, after the Japanese word “Nihon”. This translates to “Land of the Rising Sun” in English, which is a nickname for Japan. The chemical symbol would then follow suit, as the scientists named it Nh.

“Moscovium” and its chemical symbol Mc are the names for element 115. Scientists from the Moscow region in Russia discovered the element in collaboration with researchers from the United States. The three collaborating institutes were the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and lastly the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Welcome to the table Moscovium!

Bearing the chemical symbol Ts, “Tennessine” is one of newest members to our beloved periodic table. It was previously known as element 117. Clearly, it was named after Tennessee, a state in the United States of America, and it was discovered and named by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory at Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee.

Lastly, we welcome element number 118, newly dubbed as “oganesson”, or Og, to the periodic table. It was named after the prestigious Russian physicist Yuri Oganessian.

Although it seems a laborious task, it must happen; the textbooks must change to account for the four new element names. As exciting as it may be, it comes with a price!

Author: Joe Schmid

Questions? Ask away at

Works Cited:

Conover, Emily. “Four Newest Elements on Periodic Table Get Names.” Science News. Society for Science & the Public, 8 June 2016. Web. 23 June 2016. <;.

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