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metalresearcher
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[*] posted on 18-8-2017 at 09:54
Strange element names and codes


Some elements have strange or confusing names.

- Bohrium (107) which is confusing with Boron (5).
- Erbium (68) which is very similar to Terbium (65) and in a lesser extent to Ytterbium (70).

And codes (symbols):

- Sodium should have So and not Na
- Potassium should have something like Ps and not a 'K'.
These names (Natrium, Kalium) are only used in a few languages like German.

- Tungsten should have T or Tu and not 'W' as 'Wolfram' is the name in a few languages only.

What are your ideas ?




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Texium
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[*] posted on 18-8-2017 at 10:01


Ideas? Meh. It would be a lot more confusing to change anything at this point.



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metalresearcher
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[*] posted on 18-8-2017 at 10:36


Quote: Originally posted by zts16  
Ideas? Meh. It would be a lot more confusing to change anything at this point.

That's true.
We are so used to these names or symbols, but I am just wondering why IUPAC chose these names.




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[*] posted on 18-8-2017 at 11:14


Erbium, terbium yttrium and ytterbium are all named after the same place Ytterby.
That's why they have similar names. Nothing to do with IUPAC.

Context will usually make sure Boron and Bohrium won't get mixed up.
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[*] posted on 18-8-2017 at 11:26


Natrium, kalium and wolfraam are perfectly correlated with their abbreviation in my language, which is not german.

Let's talk about changing the abbreviations for silver, gold and lead instead.

Some names and thus abbreviations have such a long legacy that they simply cannot be changed. Argentum, Aurum and plumbum are names which have long since fallen out of use but will not be changed anytime soon.
[Edited on 18-8-2017 by Sigmatropic]

[Edited on 18-8-2017 by Sigmatropic]
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[*] posted on 18-8-2017 at 11:43


While it may be a bit impractical to those just learning the elements and their symbols,
I'd say it actually also adds a bit of charm and 'personality' to the elements and the periodic table. It reflects some of the fascinating history of the discovery of the elements, including all the disputes, mistakes and simultaneous independent discoveries.




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[*] posted on 18-8-2017 at 12:02


Suggesting a change is like saying the the UK will change to driving on the Right hand side of the road.
It might be a good idea; but it's never going to happen.
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[*] posted on 18-8-2017 at 15:27


Honestly, changing element symbols will be a PITA. For example, if silver has a symbol starting with S, it would become the 9th (10th?) element to have a symbol starting with S. That would be a pain. As phlogiston said, it adds a bit of charm, and it actually makes it easier for it to be memorized (well, to me :)).
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[*] posted on 18-8-2017 at 16:19


and besides it is fun to go to the apothecaries and ask for random stuff in its original name.

Some call them new age health stores, but it is adorable to look at their confused faces and blank stares, like when I went to a water bar (Sadly yes they are/where a thing) and ask for DiHydrogen Monoxide :)
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[*] posted on 18-8-2017 at 17:39


Many of them comes from Latin, like Hidroganum [Hg] , Aurum [Au], Argentum [Ag], Plumbum [Pb], Stannum [Sn], Stibium [Sb].

Sodium is "Nātrijs" in Latvian (Na) and potassium is "Kālijs" in Latvian (K), so it is spot on for me. But it distracted me when I was learning these names in English.

Terbium, Ytterbium, Yttrium, Erbium elements were found in Sweden and lazily were called after one place they found them in Ytterby. elements are not coming from English alone.





[Edited on 19-8-2017 by TheMrbunGee]




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CharlieA
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thumbdown.gif posted on 19-8-2017 at 17:41


All these names for elements, etc., which are strange to the uninitiated, have been around for centuries (literally), and are not about to be changed now. I would suggest you read a book on the history of the elements, especially about their discovery and naming.
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[*] posted on 19-8-2017 at 22:10


Quote: Originally posted by metalresearcher  

- Tungsten should have T or Tu and not 'W' as 'Wolfram' is the name in a few languages only.


What the hell are you talking about, nearly every language uses Wolfram instead of Tungsten.

Do your research before you make statements like this.
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[*] posted on 20-8-2017 at 16:33


I think that this thread is making mountains out of mole hills, and also shows a lack of respect for the history of chemistry. I believe Neme is saying that the human language being used to discuss chemistry is irrelevant and the symbols for the elements are more or less universal to all languages. To paraphrase: a 2 in any language is just a 2.:D
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[*] posted on 20-8-2017 at 17:06


Making them all english based would also be a huge slap in the face, not just to their history, but to other languages. We could change all the element's symbols to reflect how it is pronounced in our language, In one accent, none the less:
I knew someone who pronounced sodium "sadium" (sad-ium, not sade-ium)
But if we did, why wouldn't all the other languages do the same? Then international chemistry would get a lot harder, as everyone communicating would be using different abbreviations.
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[*] posted on 20-8-2017 at 17:08


The names and symbols including the apparent mismatches are rich in important information.

The fact that Y, Yb, Tm and Er all have the same etymology informs us about rare earths -- that they are similar in properties and are often found together and are difficult to separate.

The fact that Na, K, Pb, Cu, Ag, Au, Hg and Sb derive from Latin and do not match their English names tells us that these metals were recognised and in most cases isolated very early on in the history of Chemistry. This tells us something about their significance -- that they are unreactive metals, or that they are abundant or that they are extremely important in the systems that chemists were analysing back when Latin was the lingua franca in the scientific world.

The fact that Cu, Sc, Ga, Ge, Sr, Fr, Po, Eu, Lu, Am, Bk, Db, Hs, Ds, Nh, Mc, Lv, and Ts are all based on place names indicates that Science transcends cultural and regional bounds. The increasing frequency of such elements in recent discoveries informs us of an important trend.

We could also talk about planetary bodies, mythology and scientists and discover important information about who was active in Science, what was capturing the imagination and what was being discovered at the time.


Replacing Na with So would not only be confusing and would not only make a mess of all existent scientific literature, it would mean turning our backs on a big chunk of what is of importance in our discipline.
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[*] posted on 20-8-2017 at 21:34


I'm not having this discussion with anyone that can't spell Al properly.



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[*] posted on 20-8-2017 at 21:43


Yep. Gotta agree with the consensus here. Naming rights for elements were heavily contested by various countries during the 19th century, and names and symbols were almost as much about politics as science, if not more. Polonium, for instance, was named by Marie Curie, after her homeland, Poland, which wasn't an independent country at the time. The US was late to the game, but thanks to the Manhattan Project, we got to name americium, berkelium, lawrencium, californium, and probably a few more radioactive-only elements. Denying these discoverers their naming rights would be a slap in the face.

Magnesium, manganese, magnetite, and magnets were all named after the Greek province of Magnesia. I just thought that was a cool fact.

Like others have said, Latin names often denote that these elements were known to the ancients in some form. Remember, the first chemists were metallurgists and miners, and a lot of chemistry terminology derives from metallurgy and mining terminology. "Carbon" is just the Latin word for "coal", for example. And "carbohydrates" were thought to be related to mineral hydrates, since on heating, they released water and formed carbon.

It would be nice if they could give single-letter symbols to the most commonly-encountered elements, or specifically to non-metals, since that would make the various functional group abbreviations in organic chemistry more obviously not elements. It's not like I regularly confuse "acetyl" with "actinium" or anything, but a jar labeled "AcCl" could end up in the wrong lab and do some serious damage. Of course, even my tentative proposed rule change would not solve this problem, so disregard what I said. The periodic table is fine how it is.

[Edited on 8/21/17 by Melgar]




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