Location, location, location

According to the rules of the international Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), a new element can be named after a mythological concept or character (including an astronomical object), a mineral or similar substance, a place or geographical region, a property of the element, or a scientist.

These three elements, numbers 115, 116 and 117, all discovered this century, are named after locations. Their discoveries were collaborative efforts by scientists based at two or more of: the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna in the Moscow region of Russia; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, USA; and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, USA.

Element 115 is named Moscovium and the symbol I have used is that of the Moscow Metro, famous for its ornate underground stations. I said at the outset that this would be a periodic table devoid of letters and already I’ve used the Greek alphabet for cadmium. My excuse this time is that there are three other elements named after the location and scientists of the JINR so I will need all the Russian symbols I can manage.

Element 116 is Livermorium and the motif is the logo of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Again a letter is incorporated, but perhaps not quite so obviously so, and neither this nor moscovium are the complete element symbol – they are Lv and Mc respectively.

Element 117 is Tennessine – named after the state and taking the -ine ending in common with the rest of the halogens of Group 7. Represented by oak leaves for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, this is definitely one of my favourites so far.

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