Nh Mc Ts Og - The New Element Names Are Out!
June 9, 2016 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 are one step closer to shedding those boring "Un-un-" placeholder names, as the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has announced the names of nihonium (Nh), moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts), and oganesson (Og), repectively. The names are provisional for the next six months for public review and comment.

Nihonium (a.k.a. element 113, ununtrium, eka-thallium) is the first element officially discovered in East Asia, thanks to co-discoverer Japanese research facility RIKEN (Nihon is one of the ways to say "Japan" in Japanese).

Moscovium (a.k.a. element 115, ununpentium, eka-bismuth) was discovered at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, an international research center in Russia, for whose capital it is named.

Tennessine (a.k.a. element 117, ununseptium, eka-astatine) was also discovered at JNIR, but the assistance of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee lent its name.

Oganesson (a.k.a. element 118, ununoctium, eka-radon) is only the second element named after a then-living scientist (after seaborgium), this time for Yuri Oganessian, the leader of the laboratory that has confirmed many of the most recently discovered elements.
posted by Etrigan (67 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Nihonium" disappoints everyone who was looking forward to J finally being on the periodic table (they were expecting "Japanium").

Poor J. At least he's got Q to keep him company.
posted by Plutor at 8:29 AM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh well, octarine is not to be.
posted by Rangi at 8:29 AM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Interesting to see some names that don't end in "ium", for a change.
posted by Anne Neville at 8:33 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


What would also be interested is hearing the accents of the respective cities pronounce IUPAC.

yewUH-pakUH? yuhpaK? YeeeuuPayhC?
posted by lalochezia at 8:37 AM on June 9, 2016


I was hoping they would name 113 after Lemmy. Oh well.
posted by Rob Rockets at 8:38 AM on June 9, 2016


Interesting to see some names that don't end in "ium", for a change.

Huh, I was going to say Oganesson sounds weird to me: all the "-on" elements are two syllables long, plus I would expect "-ium" for an element named after a person.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:42 AM on June 9, 2016


I see you, Nighonium Moscovium.
posted by Artw at 8:44 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


McElement.
posted by Nelson at 8:47 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hey, now it's 17 states that share their abbreviations with chemical elements! Go New Hampshire!
posted by barchan at 8:49 AM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Nice that they kept the naming scheme for noble gases; Dr. Poliakoff from the Periodic Table videos had thought this was where they'd break the pattern, once they'd picked an official name for 118.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:58 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nice that they kept the naming scheme for noble gases; Dr. Poliakoff from the Periodic Table videos had thought this was where they'd break the pattern, once they'd picked an official name.

The have a new video about the new names now.
posted by rpn at 9:01 AM on June 9, 2016


I never thought I would have an opinion on this sort of thing but "Tennessine" is just delightful.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:02 AM on June 9, 2016 [10 favorites]


Good for you, Tennessee, but remember, Californium (Cf atomic number 98) has been on the table for 65 years.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:12 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


> I never thought I would have an opinion on this sort of thing but "Tennessine" is just delightful.

Funny, I have exactly the opposite reaction; it's pretty much indistinguishable from "Tennesseean" in speech, and when I heard the NPR story about this I couldn't tell what it was supposed to be. Why not "Tennessium" or something?
posted by languagehat at 9:12 AM on June 9, 2016


Too close to Technetium?
posted by sukeban at 9:15 AM on June 9, 2016


It's a halogen! All the halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, astatine) end in -ine, so the new one should too.
posted by Small Dollar at 9:17 AM on June 9, 2016 [18 favorites]


117 is in column 17 (the halogens), so it gets an "-ine" suffix. If you look above it on a periodic table, there's fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, and astatine.

118 is in column 18 (the noble gases), so it gets an "-on," like neon, argon, xenon, krypton, and radon.
posted by theodolite at 9:18 AM on June 9, 2016 [10 favorites]


Funny, I have exactly the opposite reaction; it's pretty much indistinguishable from "Tennesseean" in speech, and when I heard the NPR story about this I couldn't tell what it was supposed to be.

You really couldn't tell from context whether they were talking about a rare halogen family element or someone from Tennessee?

I'm not sure if this says more about you or people from Tennessee.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:22 AM on June 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


Tennessee may join the element names, but I bet the scientists there still can't write their whole address in elements like Glenn Seaborg could! (Seaborgium Lawrencium Berkelium Californium Americium)
posted by tavella at 9:24 AM on June 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


Note that there was a recent period of time when Ts would have been Tennessium and Og would have been Oganessium, but IUPAC wisely changed the rules back to allow for -ine for new halogens and -on for new noble gases.
posted by Etrigan at 9:25 AM on June 9, 2016


> It's a halogen! All the halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, astatine) end in -ine, so the new one should too.

OK, then they shouldn't have named it after Tennessee, dammit.

> You really couldn't tell from context whether they were talking about a rare halogen family element or someone from Tennessee?

Of course I knew they were talking about an element, but I couldn't tell how it was supposed to be spelled, and I'll bet neither could any other listeners who didn't already know. Words aren't supposed to be indecipherable mysteries.
posted by languagehat at 9:29 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Someone get Tom Lehrer on the phone stat.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:30 AM on June 9, 2016 [10 favorites]


Yo I meet this hot sexy baby in the periodic table and I was all, "Hey do you have 117 protons in your nucleus???" - cos you're the only ten I EVER seen".
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2016 [10 favorites]


McElement.

Elementy McElementFace
posted by trip and a half at 9:35 AM on June 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


Still no word on Unobtanium....
posted by I-baLL at 9:36 AM on June 9, 2016




it's pretty much indistinguishable from "Tennesseean" in speech,

To my British English ears, it's fairly obvious - tenn-ess-ee-an vs tenn-ess-een.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:38 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]




Maybe I've always pronounced "Tennesseean" wrong or maybe the two words are easier to mishear than I think, but to my ear "Tennesseean" is four syllables ("Tenn-uh-see-uhn") and "Tennessine" is three ("Te-NESS-ine").

posted by octobersurprise at 9:43 AM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I guess they could have called it Voluntine.
posted by LionIndex at 9:47 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Tho, "tennessine" sound like it should be an adjective: "The shadows lengthened in the crepuscular, tennessine light."
posted by octobersurprise at 9:51 AM on June 9, 2016 [15 favorites]


looking forward to J finally being on the periodic table

You can use J for Iodine I believe (for example if you are German)
posted by doiheartwentyone at 9:53 AM on June 9, 2016


Words aren't supposed to be indecipherable mysteries.

After about next week, this particular word is not likely to be spoken by anyone who doesn't already know what it is. Do you find yourself discussing copernicium or flerovium often enough to worry about how easy they are to pronounce?
posted by Etrigan at 9:53 AM on June 9, 2016


I keep picturing Sheldon Cooper disapproving of one of these and mounting a furious one-man write-in campaign.
posted by praemunire at 9:59 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


For anyone wondering - it's nihonium rather than nipponium because if an element has been given a proposed name before and subsequently disproven that name cannot be used again (nipponium was a disproven candidate for element 43 technetium ) . Similarly ghiorsium and hahnium can never be element names either
posted by BigCalm at 10:20 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oganesson is for sure the name of a glowing purple substance that gives people superpowers and/or turns them into giant monsters.
posted by straight at 10:36 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]



For anyone wondering - it's nihonium rather than nipponium because if an element has been given a proposed name before and subsequently disproven that name cannot be used again.


I was just reading the Wikipedia articles about the elements at the very top of the periodic table, and the IUPAC doesn't even want to use the abbreviations from proposed names that weren't accepted. Copernicium is Cn and not Cp because there was an argument before World War I about whether element 71 should be lutetium (Lu) or casseopeium (Cp), and even though lutetium won and no one has talked about casseopeium or used that abbreviation for more than 100 years, that minescule level of ambiguity is too much for the IUPAC.
posted by Copronymus at 10:41 AM on June 9, 2016


Nh Mc Ts Og

Isn't this a place in Irish folklore
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:48 AM on June 9, 2016 [25 favorites]


I was just reading the Wikipedia articles about the elements at the very top of the periodic table, and the IUPAC doesn't even want to use the abbreviations from proposed names that weren't accepted.

Hence Tennessine being Ts rather than Tn (tungsten/wolfram).
posted by Etrigan at 10:52 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


So this may be an insanely dumb question, but in looking at the Periodic Table now that it is all filled out, is this the "last" of the elements, or is there potentially a whole nother row of synthetic elements that would fit in at the bottom of the Table?
posted by Rock Steady at 10:58 AM on June 9, 2016


Oh well, octarine is not to be.

We could use octarine for one of these, it being a colour, not a chemical element. For a magical Discworld element I suggest octiron. Or, since element 118 is in the same group as the noble gases, the seldom-mentioned magical gas octagen.
posted by qntm at 11:02 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


is this the "last" of the elements, or is there potentially a whole nother row of synthetic elements that would fit in at the bottom of the Table?

There might be more.
posted by Etrigan at 11:04 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I assume there is some theoretical limit to element size, but I've seen discussion of a new island of stability out in the 160s, so there's plenty more rows that could be.
posted by tavella at 11:06 AM on June 9, 2016


Maybe I've always pronounced "Tennesseean" wrong or maybe the two words are easier to mishear than I think, but to my ear "Tennesseean" is four syllables ("Tenn-uh-see-uhn") and "Tennessine" is three ("Te-NESS-ine").
posted by octobersurprise


As an actual Tennesseean, you are correct. It's pronounced with a defined "see-uhn." Tennessine has one fewer syllable.
posted by workerant at 11:07 AM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


118 is in column 18 (the noble gases), so it gets an "-on," like neon, argon, xenon, krypton, and radon.

Hmm, I wonder what color it would glow if we put it inside a fluorescent tube?

Oganesson is for sure the name of a glowing purple substance that gives people superpowers and/or turns them into giant monsters.

OK, this.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:14 AM on June 9, 2016


Oganesson sounds like a drug name- "Ask your doctor if Oganesson is right for you".
posted by Anne Neville at 11:21 AM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I guess every other new element that has been named in my lifetime does end in -ium. It's been a while since a new halogen (astatine, in 1940) or noble gas (radon, 1898) has been discovered.
posted by Anne Neville at 11:33 AM on June 9, 2016


It's a bit of a shame that Oganesson is a noble gas (and so gets a name ending with -on) because Armenian surnames (typically ending in -ian 'child of') are perfect for naming -ium elements after. Kevorkium! Kardashium! Bogosium! Sarkisium! Zildjium!
posted by The Tensor at 11:37 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


> Maybe I've always pronounced "Tennesseean" wrong or maybe the two words are easier to mishear than I think, but to my ear "Tennesseean" is four syllables ("Tenn-uh-see-uhn") and "Tennessine" is three ("Te-NESS-ine").

Theoretically, yes. In the flow of speech, not so much. And yes, it's not a term likely to come up much in speech, and in fact I may never hear it again, but I reserve my Matt-given Plate-of-Beans right to be grumpy about it anyway.
posted by languagehat at 11:45 AM on June 9, 2016


Am I the only one who wants to see Tennessine's boudoir pics?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:57 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Alfred, Lord Tennessine?
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 12:10 PM on June 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


I propose that the next element found be called 'Surprise'.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:22 PM on June 9, 2016


Theoretically, yes. In the flow of speech, not so much. And yes, it's not a term likely to come up much in speech, and in fact I may never hear it again, but I reserve my Matt-given Plate-of-Beans right to be grumpy about it anyway.

If it makes you feel better, I'm pretty sure you could make a good case for pronouncing it so that it rhymes with American English "iodine."
posted by biogeo at 1:26 PM on June 9, 2016


The Oganesson sounds like a shadowy, evil race of aliens that have been manipulating human evolution for millennia, until Captain Janeway randomly flies too close to their Delta Quadrant planet and puts them in their place.
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:27 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Nihonium still sounds like a cop-out to me. Might I suggest "Minovskium"?
posted by fifthrider at 1:28 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nice, Tennessee has an element named after it! In your face Kentucky!
posted by dov3 at 1:35 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oganesson sounds like a drug name- "Ask your doctor if Oganesson is right for you".

And keep in mind it's not covered by your insurance, and one pill is USD$42.
posted by Bringer Tom at 1:48 PM on June 9, 2016


> is this the "last" of the elements, or is there potentially a whole nother row of synthetic elements that would fit in at the bottom of the Table?

Yes, there can be more, but they'll be incredibly unstable, and decay in femtoseconds - there are further theorised "islands of stability" but it may be that we cannot reach these at least with the particle accelerators we have now. Beyond a certain point (either 137 or 173 protons) , the innermost (s-shell) electrons would theoretically be travelling faster than the speed of light. Something has to give at this point.

What might be more interesting is Superatoms where after arranging say, aluminium into a particular configuration, it behaves like a noble gas. In another configuration, a halogen. Should these belong in their own periodic table?

Probably my favourite science book of the last few years has been The Disappearing Spoon which is a truly wonderful romp through the periodic table - highly recommended!
posted by BigCalm at 1:54 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Better than livermorium, which just sounds dreadful.
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:00 PM on June 9, 2016


Better than livermorium, which just sounds dreadful.

It's not so bad spread thinly on little pieces of toast.
posted by 1adam12 at 3:25 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


nihonium is NIHonium to me (Not Invented Here)

And I'm shortly out to enjoy the last rays of tennessine light of evening. Which, with Oak Ridge just a ways that-a-way over the hills, could indeed be read two ways.
posted by joeyh at 3:57 PM on June 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


What might be more interesting is Superatoms where after arranging say, aluminium into a particular configuration, it behaves like a noble gas.

Or transparent, maybe?
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 4:34 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Livermorium is that feeling of sweaty anxiety you get when 580 is packed solid due to road work on the Altamont Pass in the middle of July and you're trying to get to Manteca before 7 PM.
posted by clorox at 4:58 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


it's nihonium rather than nipponium because if an element has been given a proposed name before and subsequently disproven that name cannot be used again

Interesting, although Nihon seems way more common these days than Nippon anyway, though both are technically correct transliterations/pronunciations. (In the most straightforward context of "the country Japan", I almost always hear Nihon (にほん), but you'll see lots of names of things with にっぽん as part of the name).
posted by thefoxgod at 5:37 PM on June 9, 2016


I was hoping they would name 113 after Lemmy. Oh well.

The pleasure is to play, it makes no difference what you say
posted by flabdablet at 6:08 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Words aren't supposed to be indecipherable mysteries

Well, not to you languagehat, but now you know how the other half lives.
posted by quinndexter at 11:40 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I had hoped that 115 would be called Elerium just as a fun link back to some of the more entertaining "science" theories of the '80s.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:58 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Funny, I have exactly the opposite reaction; it's pretty much indistinguishable from "Tennesseean" in speech, and when I heard the NPR story about this I couldn't tell what it was supposed to be. Why not "Tennessium" or something?
[...]
Words aren't supposed to be indecipherable mysteries

Hello! Friendly neighborhood chemist here. I get what you're coming from, but there are two major reasons I can think of to prefer "Tennessine" to "Tennessium:
1. "Tennessine" immediately marks the element as being a halogen, by the parallels to its sibling elements (as a few people have already mentioned.) "Tennessium" contains less information.
2. Weirdly enough, the problem you see with Tennessine vs. Tennesseean might actually be worse with "Tennessium". Because if you pronounce it "Teh-NESS-i-um", it sounds like a slightly over-nasalized pronunciation of "Technetium" ("tek-ne-si-um"), another element. And yeah, as with Tennessine/Tennesseean, the difference is usually going to be clear in context--but the confusion/annoyance potential for two different elements (even two very different ones!) is markedly higher than for an element and a demonym.

(You may protest, who would pronounce it "teh-NESS-ium" as opposed to "tenn-ness-i-um", but the stressed syllable before the -ium is a habit that gets ingrained quickly--nearly everyone pronunces Bk as "Ber-KEE-li-um", not "BERK-el-i-um")
posted by Krom Tatman at 10:35 AM on June 10, 2016


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