What’s even more exciting than four new elements being discovered and added to the periodic table? Finding out what the elements with atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118 will be named. Very soon we will have our answers, according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).
I came across two contenders jockeying for position. An article in The Guardian notes that a petition to name one of the new elements “octarine”, in honor of the late author Terry Pratchett’s colour of magic, has gained momentum.
Pratchett, who died in March 2015, writes in his first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, that octarine is “the King Colour, of which all the lesser colours are merely partial and wishy-washy reflections. It was octarine, the colour of magic. It was alive and glowing and vibrant and it was the undisputed pigment of the imagination, because wherever it appeared it was a sign that mere matter was a servant of the powers of the magical mind. It was enchantment itself. But Rincewind always thought it looked a sort of greenish-purple.”
As of Jan. 13, octarine has nearly 45,000 supporters. You can add your signature to the petition here.
Another contender is Lemmium named after the late Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister. An article from NPR states that according to the IUPAC's guidelines, elements "can be named after a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or a scientist." Lemmy's fans say that he fulfills one, and possibly all, of those requirements.
A prominent scientist has added his support to the campaign, with physicist Brian Cox tweeting, "this one surely must be right."
Surely, it must. As of Jan. 13, Lemmium has 145,000 supporters. Lemmy might have been Killed By Death on Dec. 28 at the age of 70, but his name might live on in the halls of science forever. To lend your support to Lemmy, sign here.
The elements will be officially named by the teams that discovered them, but it’s fun to feel a part of the process. I think nothing would be cooler than having elements named for magic and Motörhead.
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing’s senior digital editor and a Lemmium supporter. You can find Motörhead as well as Mozart on her iPod. Send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.