When we talked with element 112’s discoverer, Sigurd Hofmann, on the significance of making a permanent mark on the periodic table, he told us he wanted a moniker that recognized a famous scientist while avoiding the flag-waving nationalism normally associated with the process. Today, Hofmann and his team made their decision public.
Good bye element 112 and ununbium, its placeholder name. Hello “Copernicium.”
By choosing to honor the father of the heliocentric solar system, element 112 discovery team leader Sigurd Hofmann wanted to avoid the divisive names selected for past elements, salute an influential scientist who didn’t receive any accolades in his own lifetime, and highlight the link between astronomy and Hofmann’s own field of nuclear chemistry.