What is it about?

Who names an element that has been discovered? Is it the discoverer, as argued by Paneth, or IUPAC? Discussed is, among others, einsteinium

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Why is it important?

After decades of fractious discourse between national science organisations , IUPAC has now a procedure for naming new elements.


Personally, I found the behaviour of the national organisations during "the transfermium wars" embarrassing. Fortunately, the present procedure for naming new elements, which I wrote on behalf of the IUPAC Commission on Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry (Pure Appl.Chem. 74 (5):787-791, 2002) and which was amended in 2016 (Pure Appl.Chem. 88 (4):401-405, 2016) works.

Professor Willem H. Koppenol
Swiss Federal Insitute of Technology (ETH)

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This page is a summary of: Paneth, IUPAC, and the Naming of Elements, Helvetica Chimica Acta, January 2005, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1002/hlca.200490300.
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