Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Can a borrow a cup of copernicium?

Last month, I gave you the heads-up on the newly confirmed element 112. Now, we have a proposed name for it . . . Copernicium (Cp).

An eponym for the 16th-century Polish scholar Nicolaus Copernicus (pictured)—the guy widely known for his ground-breaking heliocentric view of cosmology—the new name is not yet official. Copernicium is the name proposed by the discoverers . . . and that usually becomes the official name unless somebody finds out it means something nasty in some human language somewhere.

This eponym thing is interesting. In human anatomy, we are shunning eponyms—in chemistry, it seems to be embraced. Hmmm. And get this . . . Nick Copernicus's name is in fact adopted from the name of element 29, copper (Cu). The name is the Latinized form of MikoĊ‚aj Kopernik—his surname having been based on his family's business (copper work).

So tuck that away in your trivia file, eh?

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