back to article Discworld fans stake claim to element 117

Campaigning Terry Pratchett aficionados have followed the lead of Lemmy fans in demanding that one of the four new elements recently admitted to the periodic table be named in honour of their hero. Last week, we reported that an online petition is calling for either element 113, 115, 117 or 118 to be dubbed "Lemmium". Cue …

  1. Chris Miller

    May I be the 94th to suggest

    Bowieum and Ziggium

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      Re: May I be the 94th to suggest

      Beat me to it, and as the original Starman it's in with a good shot.

      There's enough elements that need naming, surely they can have one of each?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: May I be the 94th to suggest

      May I suggest Nimoynium, it's the logical choice Captain.

    3. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: May I be the 94th to suggest

      In the spirit of The Spiders from Mars

      Ladystardustium

    4. E 2

      Re: May I be the 94th to suggest

      Bowieum and Ziggium - these are better candidates than mediocre guitarists and writers.

  2. John G Imrie
    Happy

    Oook OOk! Eek!

    I think that sums it all up.

  3. pewpie

    "....asks that 117 be christened "'Octarine', with the proposed symbol Oc (pronounced 'ook')".

    No.. just.. no. (pronounced 'ooooohhnomissusiamthemostpretentiousoneintheroom')

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      Did pTerry ask for an element to be named in his honour? No he didn't, same with Lemmy (and I guess now Bowie). None of them have asked for an element to be named after them, this is something the fans of each of them has asked in order that they'll be remembered going forward. It's probably unlikely that any of them will be picked (after all names are chosen by the discovering scientists, but their views on the mythological status of the Discworld or Lemmy's contributions to Heavy Metals is unknown at this time).

      Personally I think each has it's merits (including the probably soon to be requested Bowium). As stated elsewhere Lemmy already has a star named after him and lets face it he was Heavy Metal (not to forget being a former member of the original space cadets, Hawkwind). pTerry created a rich mythos in his Discworld series, which at times needed several degrees in literature and the sciences in order to fully get the most out of. And for me Bowie was the original Starman, and you can't argue that he gave a certain Canadian astronaut one of the coolest sendoffs from the ISS possible with Space Oddity played in outer space.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Obviously all of these worthy individuals (and a host of others, like Mother Theresa, who have so far unaccountably been overlooked by the petitioning hordes) have a greater claim to the name than the scientists whose hard work actually resulted in the discovery of these elements...

  4. caffeine addict Silver badge

    I would have thought 118 was a better choice for the 8th colour, personally. But it's a bit pointless when (IIRC) the rules say the names above 100 all have to end in "ium". In which case "narritivium" sounds good to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Octarinium?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      The rules had better not say that. Walking down the group we have Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine, Iodine, Astatine and <this one>. The "ium" ending is traditional for metals and most of the trans-uranic elements to date have been metals, but 117 is a halogen and any self-respecting chemist would insist on a name ending in -ine.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I missing something?

    Wouldn't Octarine be more appropriate for element 118 ?

    or is 118 reserved for TelephoneDirectoryEnquirium ?

    1. TitterYeNot
      Coat

      Re: Am I missing something?

      "or is 118 reserved for TelephoneDirectoryEnquirium?"

      Unfortunately not, that name for element 118 has now been revoked and will be replaced with 'HowMuchThatWasJustOneMinuteYouMustBeBloodyJokingium'...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pity it won't happen, though. Same with the Lemmy one, as they don't fit the criteria for naming.

    "New elements can be named after a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or a scientist."

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Are you saying that Discwolrd doesn't have a mythological basis?

      It might be modern, but it's still myth:

      Myth - from the Greek word mythos (μύθος), which simply means "story".

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        >It might be modern, but it's still myth:

        >Myth - from the Greek word mythos (μύθος), which simply means "story".

        The same could be said of Bowie's alter egos as well!

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Just as a quick game, which musicians are also scientists?

      William Herschel, composer and astronomer.

      Brian May, who has played with Bowie on Queen's Under Pressure, has his PhD for zodiacal dust.... who else? Join in, folks!

      1. Killing Time

        Dr Brian Cox in his D Ream Days......

        1. Ol' Grumpy
          Coat

          "Dr Brian Cox in his D Ream Days......"

          We've only just forgiven him for that!

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Alien8n Silver badge

            Both are technically correct in his case, as he has earned his Doctorate, but is employed as a Professor.

        3. Killing Time

          Tom Scholz - pretty much the sole driver behind the American AOR band Boston. Engineer and inventor...

      2. Alan J. Wylie

        Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath

        The Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath project attempts to find people who have the smallest number of links to a paper published by mathematician Paul Erdős, a film with Kevin Bacon, and a performance with Black Sabbath

        http://erdosbaconsabbath.com/

        PTerry has a score of 4+2+3, Brian May's is 5+3+1. Richard Feynman's is 3+3+4.

        More at http://timeblimp.com/?page_id=195

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath

          Eeeeek

          Well a friend of mine played with Bill Ward for a while! Can manage links like this to Accept, Iron Maiden and many others as well

      3. Alien8n Silver badge

        Sir Patrick Moore. His glockenspiel was genius.

        (Moorium anyone, that'll take us to 4 elements)

      4. Dr. Ellen

        Richard Feynman might count as a scientist who was also a musician. In "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" he mentions his exploits playing frying-pan in a Samba band in Brazil.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Feynman was well known for playing bongos.

          Einstein, who of course already has an element named after him, was also an amateur violin player. During one attempted duet, Einstein's musician friend declared in exasperation "My God Albert, can't you count?!"

      5. RDW

        Alexander Borodin is most famous today as a composer (you will recognise the tune of his Polovtsian Dances from 'Prince Igor'), but at his day job he was a world-class research chemist - he co-discovered the Aldol Addition, which features in every organic chemistry textbook. I can't think of anyone else who has significantly added to 'the canon' of both science and music, though there are plenty of scientists who are also skilled musicians, and professional musicians with a science or maths background.

        1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge
          Coat

          My 12th grade physics teacher sang Barbershop Quartet. Does that count?

          Knickerbockerium has a nice ring to it.

      6. BongoJoe

        Erm, John Travolta (possibly a singer) is a Christian Scientist.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Hmmm, Travoltium.... urghhh

      7. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Not Brian May, the Queen lead singer - Freddy Mer ... Er, delete

        1. Alien8n Silver badge

          Thinking about it I used to work with a musician and producer years ago, he co-wrote and produced Paul Raymond's (ex UFO) Man On A Mission album. His day job was as a technician at semiconductor factory. Pretty sure the only things he discovered though were broken mosfets...

          1. Killing Time

            In the interest of accuracy, Paul Raymond is still with UFO, recording and touring. Saw them last year and was listening to their 2015 released album on the way into work this morning funnily enough.

            1. Alien8n Silver badge

              That's good to hear, probably means my mate is out of work (musically) then (he was touring with Paul around 1999-2001).

              (A quick check and he's still been working with Paul, most recently Paul's 2013 album. Website here: http://www.ans-graphics.com )

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End

    Octarine, associated with all things eight-ish, but the petitioners decided to go with 117 instead of 118 ?

    1. Avalanche

      Re: A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End

      Better to be off by 109 than off by 110 ;)

    2. no-one in particular

      Re: A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End

      The eight-ish connection is a fair point, but the petitioners did put some thought into it; from the article:

      > According to Disc mythology, octarine is visible only to wizards and cats, and is generally described as a sort of greenish-yellow purple colour, which seems perfect for what will probably be the final halogen in the periodic table

      So we have the right sort of colour and the name fits in well: flourine, chlorine, iodine ... octarine

      1. nil0

        Re: A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End

        > flourine

        A key element of bread.

        1. no-one in particular

          Re: A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End

          >> flourine

          > A key element of bread.

          It's lunchtime, I kept hearing my sarnie calling

    3. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

      Re: A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End

      "Octarine, associated with all things eight-ish, but the petitioners decided to go with 117 instead of 118 ?"

      Because 117 is a halogen, and therefore can end with "ine" instead of "ium"

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Because 117 is a halogen...

        118 probably ought to end in -on for similar reasons. Skipping over helium, we have neon, argon, krypton, xenon, radon and <118>.

        1. Swarthy Silver badge

          Re: Because 117 is a halogen...

          ...neon, argon, krypton, xenon, radon and <118>.

          Octiron. - I wonder if (a hypothetical, stable isotope of) 118 would have a high freezing temperature and form a very dark, almost infra-, black amorphous structure.

      2. Sooty

        Re: A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End

        It makes perfect sense to go with this one although it would probably be 117a

  8. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Scientist's tribute to Terry Pratchett

    Physicist Len Fisher pays tribute to Pratchett's scientific observations.

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/2016-01-02/7051062 link to webpage where MP3 can be downloaded from.

    Example:

    It’s very hard to talk quantum using a language originally designed to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is.'

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Scientist's tribute to Terry Pratchett

      "It’s very hard to talk quantum using a language originally designed to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is.'"

      Always one of my favourites, just behind....

      "It is hard to convey five-dimensional ideas in a language evolved to scream defiance at the monkeys in the next tree”

      ― Terry Pratchett, Darwin's Watch: The Science of Discworld III: A Novel

      '

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Scientist's tribute to Terry Pratchett

        mathematics?

    2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Scientist's tribute to Terry Pratchett

      I miss coped the reference, and when I did a search, autocorrect shifted pTerry to Pratt net in the ABC search engine. First return was titled

      Tony Abbott's self-indulgent and damaging farewell radio tour

      Hilarious

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Scientist's tribute to Terry Pratchett

        Btw - thoroughly recommend the podcast.

  9. Graham Dresch

    Scientists..

    Alexander Borodin - Chemist ( and Composer )

  10. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Hear hear.

    This post contains letters. Deal with it.

  11. Grikath

    Not too sure about Octarine. 117 hasn't got the Eight connection implied in the word...

    If you're going with sir PTerry, Narrativium would have been a better choice, in my opinion.

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Actually, according to the wiki, Narativium is the basic buildingblock of 'reality'.

      ---

      The Disc's nature is fundamentally teleological; its basic composition is determined by what it is ultimately meant to be. This primary element, out of which all others spring, is known as narrativium, the elemental substance of Story. Nothing on the Disc can exist without a Story first existing to mold its destiny and determine its form.

      ----

      So, it's probably pretty abundant and all that.

      Octarine is the light of Magic, and can only be observed by wizards(and cats, of course), much like 117 can only be observed(indirectly) by todays scientists with powerful tools.(and also, probably by cats... )

    2. Dr. Ellen

      And if they find a new element that decays slower than the others in its neighborhood, Chelonium.

    3. JDX Gold badge

      re:117 hasn't got the Eight connection implied in the word

      However the halogens are the 17th column in the PT, and 7+1 is a far better way of referring to 8 as proper fans will know. 7b is also OK.

  12. Shaha Alam

    call it TNETENNBA

    Please, someone call something TNETENNBA. it should be a legitimate name for something.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: call it TNETENNBA

      TNETENNBA is a perfectly cromulent word.

  13. Aleph0

    In Discworld, wasn't Octarine just a colour? The eighth in the spectrum, that only magic-proficient people could see... The element was called Octiron IIRC.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good point

      "Octironium" , then ?

    2. Soruk

      > The element was called Octiron IIRC.

      That would work for 118 - like the other Noble gases (exc helium) they end in -on

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shurely ...

    ... pTerry could lay claim to all 4 ... as the four world elements - sorry, elephants - that carry the discworld on their backs ... Tubul, Jerakeen, Berilia and Great T'Phon.

  15. Chris G Silver badge

    Call me twisted

    But I like the sound of Morpokium.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Dr Brian Cox in his D Ream Days......"

    It's Professor not Dr - and it's pronounced 'Briiiiiaan' as in Amaaaazing.

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      Both are technically correct in his case, as he has earned his Doctorate, but is employed as a Professor.

      (copy and pasted from the original reply, at least have the guts to stand by your original posting)

  17. The First Dave Silver badge

    Can I be the first to say: "Get a life!"

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Of course you can. And the first to have the piss taken out of them

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Get a life

      As in "hanging out in the interwebs, posting in forums?" Riiight...

  18. web_bod
    Coffee/keyboard

    Enough with all the petitions already

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Petition fatigue

      You should start a petition demanding an end to these petitions.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Petition fatigue

        Man: However, I would just like to add a complaint about shows that have too many complaints in them as they get very tedious for the average viewer.

        Another Man: I'd like to complain about people who hold things up by complaining about people complaining. It's about time something was done about it. [sixteen-ton weight falls on him]

      2. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Down with this sort of Thing!

        Steady on Now!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Petition fatigue

        "You should start a petition demanding an end to these petitions."

        I would have done, but I would have been a member of the Militant Apathy Society at University, had I been bothered to fill in the form, so it would be contrary to my core beliefs, if I could be bothered to have any.

        1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: Re: Petition fatigue

          You complete inertia is commendable. Carry on.

          1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
            Megaphone

            Re: Petition fatigue

            Or as several hundred people once said

            "GET ON WITH IT"

      4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Petition fatigue

        Is this a medical condition?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    115

    Sorry, 115 is already Elerium.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: 115

      Larium and Bandium - elements that exist only on the evenings at weekends?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keep your powder dry?

    They're already working on 119, 120 and no doubt beyond that.

  21. Ben Bonsall

    Octiron, surely. Octarine is a colour, Octiron is a metal.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      That would be a problem for non-metallic elements like halogens then.

      However we may be going too far here.

      1. Kugutsu

        Given its position on the periodic table, it could be argued that it is a metal, as the traditional metal/non-metal divide passes above it. A semi-metal/metalloid at very least...

        Whichever way you want to swing it, I'd be happy to have either, Octarine if its determined to be a halogen or Octiron if its a metal, on the new version of the periodic table. A fitting tribute, given Sir Terry's involvement in spreading the word about science.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "it could be argued that it is a metal, as the traditional metal/non-metal divide passes above it. A semi-metal/metalloid at very least..."

          Easy to find out, just get a lump of it and hit it with a hammer. If it flattens it's a metal, if it shatters it's a metalloid, and if it's a halogen the hammer gets oxidised.

          You bring the lump of 117ium, I'll bring the hammer. And a lead suit.

    2. Aleph0

      If only had it been element 118, it would have fallen in the column of the noble gases – whose names all end in -on – so Octiron would have fitted right in, under Xenon and Radon...

  22. Teddy the Bear

    Nice idea...

    Would be awesome. Would definitely honour Sir pTerry's memory - I do prefer the idea of narrativium though...

  23. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Coat

    Tedium

    Though for me it would be more couldnotgiveashitium.

    Tribalisium would seem most appropriate seeing various factions pushing to get what they want. Perhaps we'll see a competing surge for jayellessium, downtonabbium or thegreatbritishbakeoffium.

    We might even have deadprincessium if the Daily Express seize upon a notable 20th anniversary coming up. Perhaps ukipium to be more topical, though I think corbynium has a better ring to it

    I am hoping those who get to do the actual naming don't bow to pressure and choose whatever they want. Even if everyone else does hate it.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Tedium

      you do realise that people getting on with their jobs and life has been illegal since the invention of social media?

      No, cancel that, since the invention of management.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Tedium

      Looks like you have discovered Downvotium...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mythical, you say ?

    113=Berilium

    115=Tubulium

    117=TPhonium

    118=Jerakeenium

    1. Soruk

      Re: Mythical, you say ?

      > 113=Berilium

      Nope. Too confusing with Beryllium (Be), element no.4.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mythical, you say ? -Nope. Too confusing with Beryllium (Be), element no.4.

        There's a whole lot of lanthanides suggest that isn't a problem.

        Terbium, Erbium, Thulium, Ytterbium, Lutetium, Lanthanum...even their own mothers can't tell them apart.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Mythical, you say ? -Nope. Too confusing with Beryllium (Be), element no.4.

          There's a whole lot of lanthanides suggest that isn't a problem.

          Terbium, Erbium, Thulium, Ytterbium, Lutetium, Lanthanum...even their own mothers can't tell them apart.

          Terbium and Yttrium are named after Ytterby, Sweden, of course. Ytterbium is named after the compound it was isolated from, ytterba, as was the custom at the time. Ytterbia was named after Ytterby, Sweden. Erbium was named after Ytterby, Sweden, by Mossander.

          Each of these elements is also commonly called "Bruce".

          Thulium, on the other hand, is obviously named after Iceland and could never be confused with any other element, as its name has nothing to do with Ytterby.

          In Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, Hugh Aldersey-Williams has a nice section on the Ytterby mine and Swedish elemental chemistry.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about

    Using the "Star Trek" naming convention, ie elements heavier than uranium which are metastable ie have half lives longer than a month (cough Island of Stability /cough) are named di or tri depending on which vertical column of the Periodic Table they sit in.

  26. Old Handle

    Maybe they should save Octarine for the halogen in the eighth row, (whatever number that works out to, with the unbinilliumides in there.) Names will probably have gotten sillier by then too, so it'll be an easier sell. Or alternatively, prove neutronium (element o) exists and move everything else down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or alternatively, prove neutronium (element o) exists and move everything else down.

      When you get an electron to orbit a neutron tell the IUPAC, they'll be very excited.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Or alternatively, prove neutronium (element o) exists and move everything else down.

        When you get an electron to orbit a neutron tell the IUPAC, they'll be very excited.

        All I have is the lighter isotope, with no neutron. Will that do?

  27. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken
    Mushroom

    Re: periodic table

    One of the 'what ifs' in Randall 'xkcd' Munroe's brilliant 'What If' explores the possibility of making a model of the periodic table out of the real stuff, i.e. putting a sample of each element in a shelve in the same arrangement as in the table of elements. Interesting. (Hint: see icon.)

    1. YumDogfood

      Re: periodic table

      http://griffithobservatory.org/exhibits/hallofthesky_elements.html

      I noticed that some of the more "interesting" elements were absent, though the little containers existed to fill in the gaps. Its a fun day out, the views outside (Hollywierd sign, the city spread out below) are impressive, and... the parking is free (yes, wierd for Los Angeles.)

  28. Soap Distant

    Should be called MrsCakium.

    SD

  29. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Coat

    This petition...

    ...is a million-to-one shot

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: This petition...

      Great! Magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.

  30. Winkypop Silver badge
    Coat

    Optional

    I have no opinium in this debate.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Optional

      No Opium?

      What a shame. I know a guy down at the pub who could do you a deal....

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