The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has proposed names for the four newest elements which were announced in January. The proposed names for elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 are Nihonium (Nh), Moscovium (Mc), Tennessine (Ts) and Oganesson (Og) respectively.

Until now, these elements had been known by the Latin words for their atomic numbers and had the temporary working names – Ununtrium (Uut), Ununpentium (Uup), Ununseptium (Uus), and Ununoctium (Uuo). Well, let’s not forget that all these elements are artificial and were created by smashing together lighter nuclei into each other and tracking the following decay of the radioactive superheavy elements.

According to IUPAC, the discoverers get to pick the name of the elements they discovered. And, keeping with IUPAC’s tradition for naming, the elements 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.

Periodic table which includes the four newest elements with their temporary working names – Ununtrium (Uut), Ununpentium (Uup), Ununseptium (Uus), and Ununoctium (Uuo)

Elements 113 was discovered at the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator Science, so it is named Nihonium – the Japanese name for Japan, Nihon. Elements 115 was found at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, so it is named Moscovium – after Moscow.

Elements 117, Tennessine is named after the US State of Tennessee, where Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Vanderbilt University is based. And, Oganesson is named after a Russian nuclear physicists Yuri Oganessian, for his work on superheavy elements. According to report by LaboratoryNews, Yuri Oganessian is credited with three confirmed element discoveries and eleven inventions, and is the only second person, after Glen Seaborg, to have named an element after their names while still alive.

“It is a pleasure to see that specific places and names (country, state, city, and scientist) related to the new elements is recognized in these four names. Although these choices may perhaps be viewed by some as slightly self-indulgent, the names are completely in accordance with IUPAC rules”, said Jan Reedijk, President of the IUPAC Inorganic Chemistry Division. “In fact, I see it as thrilling to recognize that international collaborations were at the core of these discoveries and that these new names also make the discoveries somewhat tangible.”

Now, the names will be put up for public review for five months prior to formal approval by the IUPAC council. ‘It’s important for people around the world to review the names to make sure that they fit with all the different languages,’ said Lynn Soby, Iupac’s executive director, in a statement at the Royal Chemistry Society. ‘Now the public and the scientific community can weigh in on things.’

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