Elemental discoveries have been a recurring theme during my more than 20 years as a science writer, not least because that was the name of my first column on the web back in 1995/6. It’s apt then, that IUPAC and IUPAP have finally given official names to the three elements discovered during that period – elements 110, 111 and 112 have been named darmstadtium (Ds, discovered 1994), roentgenium (Rg, also first observed in 1994) and copernicium (Cn, found in 1996) respectively.
The adoption of these names will mean revisions to the Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements once more, but there is an ongoing debate regarding the future of the Periodic Table per se. Some chemists believe that the PT is more than a mnemonic that it has some kind of fundamental structure that we are yet to determine and that with continued modifications it can evolve from Mendeleev’s original structure into something that provides even greater insights into the true nature of the chemical elements and their relationships with one another. Others are simply more concerned with making a PT that has greater value as an educational tool.
Two of the main protagonists in the debate, which has spread across the web are Eric Scerri and Philip Stewart. I recently interviewed Scerri and Stewart for the ChemistryViews site to find out a little bit more about them as people and why they are so drawn to the periodic debate.
Bradley, D. (2011). Periodic Debate ChemViews DOI: 10.1002/chemv.201000093