IUPAC welcomes Copernicium to the fold

Element number 112 has officially been named Copernicium, 14 years after it was first created in Germany. Several famous scientists have been honoured by having elements named after them, and the latest is Nicolaus Copernicus, best known for discovering that the Earth rotates around the Sun. The team at Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (Center for Heavy Ion Research) in Darmstadt, proposed the name citing the lack of recognition Copernicus received in his own lifetime, and the importance of the solar system model as an analogy for the Bohr model of atomic structure. GSI have also been responsible for the creation of Meitnerium, Hassium, Darmstadtium, Roentgenium and Bohrium.

The symbol for Copernicium is Cn, chosen over the initial proposal of Cp because element 71, lutetium used to be known as Cassiopeium (Cp). A secondary reason may have been the common usage of the symbol Cp to represent the common ligand cyclopentadiene.

Principal investigator, Sigurd Hofman, according to Wikipedia prefers the pronunciation of Copernicium with a soft second ‘c’, in line with the pronunciation of Americium. I suspect he feels, as do I, that it rolls off the tongue much more fluidly this way.

If you are intested, the short IUPAC Provisional Recommendation report is available here.

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Happy Darwin Day!

Today, February 12th is Darwin Day, this year celebrating Darwin’s 201st birthday. I suggest you celebrate by patting a beagle, taking a sandwalk or descending down some stairs or a hill, making small changes along the way…

Darwin Day is an initiative run by the American Humanist Association and is all about,

promoting public education about science and encourages the celebration of Science and Humanity throughout the global community.

A far better reason to celebrate this weekend than the vapid, hurl-fest that is Valentine’s Day.


‘Inspiring Australia’ – the future of science communication in Australia

A-Ha! This little story has popped up on ABC News. It would seem that the opinion article by finance minister Lindsay Tanner mentioned in my previous post has done a little pre-empting of this press release. I should have known it wasn’t simple reminiscing of a lost Julius Sumner-Millerised childhood…

 Today marks the release of the Inspiring Australia report, led by australia’s national science and tecnhlogy centre, Questacon. The >100 page report, which is available for download here, attempts to outline the future of science communication in Australia in order to increase the public’s awareness of, and engagement with, research and development undertaken in our country.

The report suggests that the sciences must be made to seem directly applicable to people’s everyday lives. And whilst we do see these stories from time to time (things like “you wouldn’t have a mobile phone or computer if it weren’t for science!”), the reality is that research scientists do work that is hard to understand and it isn’t applicable to everyday life. The reason you need a minimum 4 year degree plus most likely a doctorate to do research is because it’s HARD and if anyone could do it, then it would have been done already.

I really want to write more about this but I am running out of time. I will keep an eye out for further reporting of this story on the news tonight. I doubt the commercial channels will cover it, and if it will be reported at all it will most likely be on the ABC, either in the 7PM news bulletin or possibly The 7:30 Report. Stay tuned.