SOME ELEMENT NAMES ARE MORE BABYLONIAN THAN OTHERS, BUT WHICH ONES?
The year 2019 has been assigned by UNESCO as the Year of the Periodic Table of the Elements. This, and the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table, can finally be celebrated in the company of no less than 118 elements, all earlier vacancies in the system having been filled. Some reflections on the naming of elements are certainly in order.Roughly speaking, three groups of chemical elements can be distinguished. There are the ’old’ elements, such as gold, silver, copper, tin, and iron which have been known and used since prehistoric times. Then there are the ’newer’ elements which were discovered by chemists while chemistry was still a young and struggling science. Finally, the discovery of the ’newest’ elements took place in an environment characterized by its solid foundation on mature science, and by and large global conventions for the naming of new elements.