Last New Elements Finally Named!

If you follow elements news, you already know that elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 now finally have absolutely final approved (by IUPAC) names. There is really no scientific significance to this announcement: The elements were all discovered years ago, and anything to be learned from them has already been learned (or at least is not dependent on what they are named). It was only the names that people were still arguing about.

So the real significance of the recent announcement is that we all (by which I mean all people who are in the business of printing periodic tables) finally don't have to worry about printing a new version ever again! After 140+ years of annoyingly having new elements added to it every few years as they were discovered and named, it is now complete, filled-in, finished, done, and never going to be changed ever again, period.

Unless someone starts discovering elements beyond 118, which would require a whole new row to be added to the design, completely messing everything up in an unimaginably annoying way. Please, if you are a scientist working on post-118 elements, please just stop. Go home, hug your kids, and find a new line of work. Global warming is a big problem, maybe you could work on that instead?

I'm kidding, of course, feel free to keep discovered new elements, because there's no way anyone is going to add space for them in the periodic table's standard layout. We'll just add a footnote somewhere in small type. That's what happened last time (in the mid-1900s) when the first element in a new row was discovered. It wasn't until that row was half-full that people finally proposed to actually start printing the table with that row included (thanks Glen Seaborg).

There is virtually no chance of enough elements beyond 118 being discovered to justify a new row. My secret belief is that the only reason people try to create these supremely impractical elements is so that they will get to name them. Once the researchers realize that the printers aren't actually going to give them new slots in the periodic table, interest in the enterprise will fall off.

For those of you with now-obsolete periodic tables from me, you can either (1) ignore it since who really cares, (2) wait until I print new versions, or (3) use this page to download images of the new element tiles to print and paste onto your poster. The only product you can actually currently buy from me that's been updated is the wonderfully soft and up-to-date Periodic Table Quilt (which you should get someone for x-mas anyway). Others will get updated as I and/or my publisher do new print runs over the coming months.