New Chemical Element Named For Tennessee

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Turning the Table
  • Turning the Table

The periodic table of elements has four new entries, and one of them bears the name of the Volunteer State. Element 117 was discovered in 2010 by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR), a collaboration between Russian and American scientists who are trying to create ever-heavier elements. 117 was tentatively named “ununseptium”, but today the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry announced that its official name will henceforth be “Tennessine”. Since the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research discovered two different elements at the same time, the Russian team was allowed to name element 115 “Moscovium”, and the American team, based in Oak Ridge, was given rights to name 117 Tennessine. Its chemical symbol is Ts. The “-ine” suffix indicates it is a part of the group of elements known as halogens. 
Like most elements that far down the periodic table, Tennessine is extremely unstable, with a half-life of less than one second. Nevertheless, the JINR researchers believe its existence proves the longstanding theoretical concept of the “island of stability”, a predicted set of superheavy atomic nuclei whose configurations would lead to much longer-lived elements.

The two other elements named today are 113 Nihonium, which was named for Japan where it was discovered, and 118 Oganesson, which was named for its discoverer Yuri Oganessian.

Here’s a delightful video with more information on this late breaking chemistry news. 




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