List of people whose names are used in chemical element names
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Below is the list of people whose names are used in chemical element names. Of the 118 chemical elements, 19 are connected with the names of 20 people. 15 elements were named to honor 16 scientists. Four other elements have indirect connection to the names of non-scientists. On top of this, a 21st person, a 17th scientist, has an implied connection to a 20th element. Only gadolinium and samarium occur in nature (along with gallium). The rest are synthetic.
The following 19 elements are connected to the names of people. Seaborg and Oganessian were the only two who were alive at the time of being honored with having elements named after them. The four non-scientists in this table are connected with elements that were not named to honor the individual directly, but rather were named for a place or thing which in turn had been named for these people. Samarium was named for the mineral samarskite from which it was isolated. Americium, berkelium and livermorium were named after places that had been named for them. The cities of Berkeley, California and Livermore, California are the locations of the University of California Radiation Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, respectively.
|62||Samarium||Sm||1879||the mineral samarskite||Mining engineer||1803–1870||Russian|
|64||Gadolinium||Gd||1886||the mineral gadolinite||Scientist||1760–1852||Finnish|
|95||Americium||Am||1944||the continents of the Americas||Explorer||1454–1512||Italian|
|97||Berkelium||Bk||1949||the city Berkeley, California||Philosopher||1685–1753||Irish|
|116||Livermorium||Lv||2000||the city Livermore, California and
the Lawrence Livermore Lab
Other element names have been proposed but failed to gain official international recognition. These include columbium (Cb), hahnium (Ha), joliotium (Jl), and kurchatovium (Ku), names connected to Christopher Columbus, Otto Hahn, Irène Joliot-Curie, and Igor Kurchatov (more at the article on element naming controversies).
Also, mythological entities have had a significant impact on the naming of elements. Helium, titanium, selenium, palladium, promethium, cerium, europium, mercury, thorium, uranium, neptunium and plutonium are all given names connected to mythological deities. With these five, that connection is indirect:
- helium: named for the Sun where it was discovered, being associated with the deity Helios,
- Iridium: named for the Greek goddess Iris,
- tellurium: named for the Roman goddess of the earth, Tellus Mater,
- niobium: named for Niobe, a character of Greek mythology
- vanadium, named for Vanadis, another name for Norse goddess Freyja
- selenium: named for the Moon being associated with the deity Selene,
- palladium: named for the then-recently discovered asteroid Pallas which had been named for the deity Pallas Athena,
- cerium: named for the then-recently discovered asteroid Ceres which had been named for the deity Ceres,
- europium: named for the continent that had been named after the deity Europa.
Titanium is unique in the list above in that it refers to a group of deities rather than any particular individual. So Helios, Selene, Pallas, and Prometheus actually have two elements named in their honor.
And for elements given a name connected with a group, there is also xenon, named for the Greek word ξένον (xenon), neuter singular form of ξένος (xenos), meaning 'foreign(er)', 'strange(r)', or 'guest'. Its discoverer William Ramsay intended this name to be an indication of the qualities of this element in analogy to the generic group of people.
- List of scientists whose names are used as SI units
- List of scientists whose names are used as non SI units
- List of scientists whose names are used in physical constants
- List of places used in the names of chemical elements
- List of chemical element name etymologies
- Naming of elements
- List of chemical elements
- Kevin A. Boudreaux. "Derivations of the Names and Symbols of the Elements". Angelo State University.
- There is an implied connection between Livermorium and Ernest Lawrence since the element is named for the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.
- Anonymous (1904). Daniel Coit Gilman; Harry Thurston Peck; Frank Moore Colby, eds. The New International Encyclopædia. Dodd, Mead and Company. p. 906.
- Staff (1991). The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories. Merriam-Webster, Inc. p. 513. ISBN 0-87779-603-3.