New Scientific Element Named For Tennessee

Posted at 11:52 AM, Jun 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-08 23:30:39-04

One of four newly-discovered elements has been provisionally named in honor of Tennessee, thanks in part to a Vanderbilt University professor. 

The name, Tennessine, has been assigned to a new element with atomic number 117. Researchers said the name was provisional – pending certification in the next five months.

The name was chosen by Vanderbilt Physics Professor, Dr. Joseph Hamilton, who played a key role in the discovery of the element. Vanderbilt Professor Dr. A.V. Ramayya also assisted in the work.  

The discovery was made through collaboration with Vanderbilt University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee.

The four new elements with atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118 fill in the bottom row of the periodic table. They help legitimize a 50-year-old scientific theory called the "Island of Stability" that predicts heavier elements with increased stabilities and longer shelf-lives.

Dr. Hamilton said the practical use of the new elements can be anything from the building blocks of new, more compact energy sources to a world of new discoveries for future scientists.

Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander released the following statement in praise of the name:

“Today’s announcement that ‘Tennessine’ is the proposed name of a newly discovered element is a testament to the remarkable Tennessee talent that led to the discovery. The contributions of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee working with Vanderbilt University and other international collaborators remind us of the extraordinary scientific brainpower and technological capabilities in our state.”