Hurfdurfium, anyone?
June 11, 2009 10:11 AM   Subscribe

The periodic table will soon have a new addition - the "super-heavy" element 112. More than a decade after experiments first produced a single atom of the element, a team of German scientists has been credited with its discovery. But before it can be added to the official list of elements, they have to come up with an official name (hopefully better than its current unofficial moniker Ununbium).
posted by unSane (80 comments total)

 
If they're putting it to an internet vote, which I hope they do, I'm suggesting Colbertium.
posted by graventy at 10:12 AM on June 11, 2009


Dudeium. Heavy, man.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:13 AM on June 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Unobtainium.

This way, the next time I see an ultra-exotic bicycle described as being built out of "unobtainium" I can assume it weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 kilos.
posted by ardgedee at 10:17 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


...and will sterilize the rider.
posted by ardgedee at 10:18 AM on June 11, 2009


Unobtainium! Come on!
posted by Skot at 10:18 AM on June 11, 2009


I was always annoyed by the elements at the end of the periodic table. Sure, technically they're these really awesome super-elements. But in reality, they can only exist inside a particle accelerator, and even then only for like a half-second. It's not like you're ever going to see a chunk of Ununbium in the Minerals Hall at the Natural History Museum.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:18 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tom Lehrer has to come out of retirement now.
posted by RavinDave at 10:18 AM on June 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


Son of a bitch.
posted by Skot at 10:19 AM on June 11, 2009


Deutschium.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 10:20 AM on June 11, 2009


I misread that as "you-noob-ium." I think it is time to take a break from World of Warcraft...
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:21 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmm ... Lehrerium.
posted by RavinDave at 10:22 AM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obese elements! The future truly is now!
posted by Never teh Bride at 10:23 AM on June 11, 2009


Adamantium
posted by empath at 10:25 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


MeatLoafium
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:26 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, all this research and only four atoms created?

May I suggest Teuerium as an appropriate name?
posted by Sova at 10:26 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yahwehnium - the God Element. Then they can all retire rich.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:27 AM on June 11, 2009


(or Mithril)
posted by empath at 10:28 AM on June 11, 2009


Maybe the reason we've seen so few atoms of this element is because it's ashamed of being labeled "super-heavy." How about we call it hesmybrotherium?

/dad joke
posted by otolith at 10:28 AM on June 11, 2009


I think we should stay away from -ium. How 'bout Smellogen? Or Zaxxon?
posted by Mister_A at 10:31 AM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am fully expecting a cigar with a band reading, "IT'S A SUPER-HEAVY ELEMENT."

It has not arrived yet.
posted by Danf at 10:31 AM on June 11, 2009


Tom Lehrer has to come out of retirement now.
posted by RavinDave at 10:18 AM on June 11 [3 favorites -] Favorite added! [!]


No, I think he's covered until news gets to Harvard...
posted by 445supermag at 10:34 AM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


(hopefully better than its current unofficial moniker Ununbium).

MetaTalk thread to discuss this blatant editorializing is here.
posted by DU at 10:34 AM on June 11, 2009



I was always annoyed by the elements at the end of the periodic table. Sure, technically they're these really awesome super-elements. But in reality, they can only exist inside a particle accelerator, and even then only for like a half-second. It's not like you're ever going to see a chunk of Ununbium in the Minerals Hall at the Natural History Museum.


I'm with you there. It's wonderful that they can do it, in a sort of Guinness Book of Chemistry/Physics Records sort of way. But seriously, the periodic table does not need to be extended to include elements that don't really exist in any sort of usable manner.
posted by explosion at 10:36 AM on June 11, 2009


Pavarottium?
posted by Cranberry at 10:37 AM on June 11, 2009


It's not like you're ever going to see a chunk of Ununbium in the Minerals Hall at the Natural History Museum.

That's certainly the case if no-one bothers to add it to the Periodic Table. Who knows what applications these elements will have with future technology?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:39 AM on June 11, 2009


Surprisium, so it can be the element of...
posted by snofoam at 10:42 AM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dudeium. Heavy, man.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:13 AM on June 11 [+] [!]


Eponystericium!
posted by unSane at 10:43 AM on June 11, 2009


A paper claiming that the periodic table (theoretically) goes up to 155. Also mentions the fact that 298114 (an element with 114 protons and 298-114=184 neutrons) would be really stable, so we should save unobtainium for that one.

Mithril is good.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:45 AM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Innominatium
posted by TedW at 10:51 AM on June 11, 2009


Badunkadunkium
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:53 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


yumyumium
posted by snofoam at 10:53 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


dilithium, or any of the other 323 elements from Star Trek
posted by DreamerFi at 10:54 AM on June 11, 2009


Jessamynium
posted by Danf at 10:54 AM on June 11, 2009


My periodic table goes up to 11. When do you really use anything higher than that anyway?
posted by DU at 10:55 AM on June 11, 2009


Upsidaisium. Cavorite.

Oh, wait -- heavy, you said.

(Quite a lot of mythical elements in that Wiki link, actually -- kind of fun.)
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:55 AM on June 11, 2009


I think they should call it "Jesus." The symbol J isn't currently used. And when we are asked if we've accepted Jesus into our lives, we can all say yes. No longer will anyone deny the existence of Jesus. It will end wars. Soldiers will lay down their guns, and pick up supercolliders.
posted by yeti at 11:05 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Only lasts a couple of seconds?

Iswearthatsneverhappenedbeforium
posted by backseatpilot at 11:06 AM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Let's really freak out the righties and call it Muslum.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:10 AM on June 11, 2009


Oh, the obvious jokes for the "super heavy element"

Oprahium

Atkinsium

Hurleyum

Jennycraigium

Doublesixdollarburgerium

but if they think an atomic number of 112 is "super heavy", then it's more like

Supermodelium

Interestingly, the EU is setting up 112 as a 'continent-wide' standard emergency phone number (like the USofA's 911 and UK's 999), which would make it

Emergencium

or for US TV fans, Shatnerium

A post-WWII publication with 112 in its title allows us to make the smartass name

Gripesabouthefrenchium

Well, I've got 112 problems, but this element ain't one.
posted by wendell at 11:12 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blackmetallium
posted by The World Famous at 11:13 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actual element names.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:19 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]







INVISIBLE ELEMENT
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:20 AM on June 11, 2009


As long as they reserve Elerium for element 115.

Check out this interactive chart of the nuclides for all your radioisotopic data needs.
posted by Electric Dragon at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


LiveAtTheOrphium
posted by horsewithnoname at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2009


Well, they could keep both the existing symbol and accuracy by calling it ununobtainium.
posted by dhartung at 11:25 AM on June 11, 2009


If it's "super-heavy", I propose "ledzepium".
posted by Joe Beese at 11:27 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Menamenanium
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 11:27 AM on June 11, 2009


Since 112 is the European standard phone number for emergency calls (equivalent to 911 in the US), why not Notrufium?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 11:29 AM on June 11, 2009


dodecacentium
posted by PenDevil at 11:32 AM on June 11, 2009


Anything that can be abbreviated with a simple "E" for the symbol. Do you know how hard it is to spell anything with element symbols because of that?
posted by Dr.Enormous at 11:33 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tohellwithum
posted by JaredSeth at 11:38 AM on June 11, 2009


Omnomnomium?
posted by marginaliana at 11:42 AM on June 11, 2009


Didn't everyone here grow up with Looney Tunes? Illudium, people!
posted by Space Kitty at 11:46 AM on June 11, 2009


Star Trek went overboard with the element naming.

I vote they call it Planckium. Max Planck needs more credit.
posted by kldickson at 11:47 AM on June 11, 2009


I will need a large quantity of element 112 for my orbital particle cannons. Think you can get that to me, runner? It's in a warehouse on the other site of the city. 750,000,000 creds for each gram.
posted by fuq at 11:50 AM on June 11, 2009


Burzumium.

(Hey, he just got out of prison!)
posted by klangklangston at 11:55 AM on June 11, 2009


I wonder what Bob Lazar thinks about all this.
posted by Relay at 11:56 AM on June 11, 2009


L33tium.
posted by Vindaloo at 11:57 AM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Teutonium
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 12:12 PM on June 11, 2009


wait, a brand new element is created in the early ears of the 21st century?


Guys, guys guys! It's gonna happen! It's finally finally gonna happen! Flying cars and moon men and dinosaurs and ray guns and superheroes and aliens and spaceships and everything! Just you wait!
posted by The Whelk at 12:32 PM on June 11, 2009


Atmospherium. Altho then you'll have skeletons trying to get their bony hands all over it.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:35 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sure, technically they're these really awesome super-elements. But in reality, they can only exist inside a particle accelerator, and even then only for like a half-second.

I'm more annoyed that people say that scientists "discovered" these elements. These elements were synthesized in an accelerator. I'd prefer a word like "created."
posted by deanc at 12:37 PM on June 11, 2009


Annoyeddeanium
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:02 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sure, technically they're these really awesome super-elements. But in reality, they can only exist inside a particle accelerator, and even then only for like a half-second.

I'm more annoyed that people say that scientists "discovered" these elements. These elements were synthesized in an accelerator. I'd prefer a word like "created."


These elements have probably existed at one time or another naturally, through supernovae, the Big Bang, or other astronomical stuff that I just don't know. Discovery is the correct term.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:25 PM on June 11, 2009


Taftium.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:04 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Neat. It's been a long time since element 112 was first produced; I'm curious what mix of new work and IUPAC politicking let it be "confirmed" enough to get a name. The confirmation might have been this experiment (less technical description) where two atoms of element 112 were found to make metal-metal bonds with a gold surface. This is the same interaction by which mercury dissolves gold, so the Table is apparently still Periodic at least as far as that.

It's actually not obvious that the periodic table should stay periodic for the heaviest elements. A famous example is plutonium which (I'm told) has a chemistry completely different from anything else. ("How is it different?" I ask. "Isn't the weather nice?" they answer. Sheesh.) Apparently documents recovered from the Nazi nuclear weapon effort refer to plutonium as "eka-samarium" and suggest its chemistry should not be that different from samarium, the element in the same position in the lanthanide series; this is taken as evidence that the Nazis were nowhere near producing a nuclear weapon in World War II.

The periodic table is periodic because of the way that electrons fill up "shells": a closed electron shell in an ordinary atom is basically an inert object that you can put more electrons on top of. In a superheavy atom the innermost electrons see a nucleus with an enormous positive charge. Their orbits are very tight (they spend a lot of time inside the nucleus) and very fast (they travel near the speed of light). This means the innermost electron shells are not the same in the heavy elements as in the light elements, and so there's much more variation between the lanthanides and the actinides than between the other transition metals.

I don't have an opinion about the name for element 112, but I'd like "unobtainium" to be reserved for 118.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 2:29 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jumbonium
posted by aaronetc at 2:47 PM on June 11, 2009


Uridium. Its time has come.
posted by scruss at 2:59 PM on June 11, 2009


MeFium
Adnauseum
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:24 PM on June 11, 2009


Hell yes to naming new substances after fictional substances! Of course I had to check if Wikipedia had a list of fictional substances, and of course it did. All of the following are good:

Adamantium (Wolverine's skeleton)
Vibranium (Captain America's shield)
Tiberium (Command & Conquer resource)
Dilithium (Star Trek)
Mithril (Tolkein)
Illudium Q-36 (Marvin the Martian)
Immateria (Final Fantasy)
Diamondium (Futurama)
Diamondillium (Futurama)
Phlogiston (the past)
Spice Melange (Dune)
Amazonium (Wonder Woman's bracelets)
Scrith (Ringworld)
Turbidium (Total Recall)
Octiron (Discworld)
Dalekanium (Daleks!)
Eitr (Norse mythology)
Yautjavium (The Predator's armor)
Orichalcum (Atlantean currency, according to Plato)

I think I vote for orichalcum, followed by tiberium.
posted by painquale at 3:30 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Know what pisses me off, huh? You know what
What really gets me mad in this life?
It's the goddamn periodic table of elements.
They've got 109 or so naturally occuring elements.
Then they've got 10 or 11 of these
Non-naturally occuring man-made elements.
They give them names like Einsteinium,
Californium, and Nobelium.
And what I want to know is
If they're man-made
Just how the hell can they be elements, huh?
posted by JoanArkham at 3:47 PM on June 11, 2009


Doooooooomantium
posted by medeine at 4:03 PM on June 11, 2009


I was always annoyed by the elements at the end of the periodic table. Sure, technically they're these really awesome super-elements. But in reality, they can only exist inside a particle accelerator, and even then only for like a half-second.

You're actually annoyed by this? Why? Is #112 to blame for the circumstances of her birth? Is she not born innocent? Do we judge, condemn, and scorn #112 for being different than most other elements? Have a heart, Afroblanco. Sure, she doesn't have to luxury of being born in a huge community of billion and billions of her own, laying about in a mineral deposit deep in a mountain, or blowing about in the upper atmosphere. She isn't crucial to life as we know it, like oxygen, nitrogen and so many others. She will never know what it's like to feel the sunlight on her nucleus, as the breeze blows through orbitting electrons. For #112, her life is lonely, dark, and so very brief. In that short span of time she might, like so many of us, long to know who she is and meet others like her, but she'll never have that chance. Her life is over almost as quickly as it begins. Do not turn your back on #112, but embrace her, cherish and celebrate her.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:24 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


And what I want to know is
If they're man-made
Just how the hell can they be elements, huh?


The short answer: it's all in how the subatomic particles are put together. In the stable elements (i.e. the ones found customarily on the planet), the subatomic particles all happen to be long-lasting configurations. Physicists work toward putting the subatomic particles together in these unstable configurations as proof of concept, as a way of testing ideas about how those subatomic building blocks work, interact, etc.

The long answer: go directly to chemistry 101, do not pass go, do not collect 200. Pay attention in class, do your homework, and be sure to ask your teacher.
posted by Sublimity at 5:41 PM on June 11, 2009


These elements occur naturally, they're just vanishingly rare. Man has never created anything in a particle accelerator that hasn't been created millions of times before somewhere in the cosmos.
posted by ryanrs at 8:53 PM on June 11, 2009


tastium
posted by mulligan at 9:01 PM on June 11, 2009


One of the reasons scientists are interested in this sort of research is the idea of an island of stability at the higher range of the table. These theoretical elements have properties that could lead to breakthroughs in a number of fields. I believe 112 is the shore of that island but I admit I am not thoroughly informed on the matter.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:56 PM on June 11, 2009


i want to live on the island of stability...i hear there's not so many earthquakes...

do neutron stars count as super-heavy nuclei? that would be like element 112-kajillion...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:27 PM on June 11, 2009


People who are interested in the bulk behavior of nuclear matter sometimes consider a neutron star a superheavy nucleus. The physics is pretty different: the binding energy comes from gravity, rather than from the strong force; all of the electrons are inside the star, where all an atom's electrons are outside its nucleus; the neutrons are degenerate but the protons are basically free particles. Trying to use the same set of interactions to describe a nucleus and a neutron star is a trendy thing to do.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 2:38 AM on June 12, 2009


Don't tell me, tell the Dead Milkmen. :)

(Forgot the link...)
posted by JoanArkham at 4:58 AM on June 12, 2009


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