By Michael Banks
Last year, we asked physicsworld.com readers to submit their best names for element 112, which was discovered in 1996 by Sigurd Hofmann and his group at the Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI in Darmstadt, Germany.
The responses ranged from Unobtanium, Collossium and Planckium to Fibonaccium (which was my favourite).
Now, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC, which develops standards for naming new elements and compounds, may be looking for a name for element 114 after researchers at GSI observed 13 atoms of Ununquadium.
Ununquadium was first synthesized in 1999 when Sergey Dimitriev and his team at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, claimed to have produced a handful of atoms.
IUPAC states that the production of any new element must be independently verified at another lab first before it can be officially recognized. That happened at the GSI lab last month as well as at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US, which produced two atoms of element 114 in September last year.
IUPAC has not yet officially recognized the element, but when it does it will invite the team in Dubna to submit a name. IUPAC will then publish the name on its website, giving scientists and the public six months to scrutinize and comment on it.
After all the suggestions Hofmann received last year for element 112 he submitted Copernicium, in honour of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. The IUPAC then approved the name and gave it the symbol Cn.
So, physicsworld.com readers, what are your suggestions for element 114?