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Element 106 takes the name seaborgium.

Of the elements with large atomic numbers, uranium remains the highest to occur naturally. Those with higher atomic numbers merit the title "transuranium" and are created by scientists using particle accelerators.

Soon, the transuranium element 106 will officially bear the name of the chemist who paved the way for its discovery, scientists announced at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego this week.

Element 106 will be called seaborgium, denoted Sg, in honor of Glenn T. Seaborg, who shared the 1951 Nobel Prize with Edwin M. McMillan for the discovery of plutonium and nine other transuranium elements. This marks the first time an element has been named after a living scientist.

Discovered in 1974 and confirmed last August, element 106 remained nameless for 2 decades because of questions about which scientific group found it first. In 1985, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics established the Transfermium Working Group to resolve the dispute.

In 1992, the group awarded joint credit for element 106 to scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories in California. That gave the California scientists the right to name the element. They chose to honor Seaborg, who had contributed to the element's discovery and served as the groups mentor. The name becomes official when approved at the next IUPAC meeting.

When they published their discovery of element 106 in the Dec. 16, 1974 PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS Berkeley chemist Albert Ghiorso and his colleagues described bombarding an isotope of the heavy element californium with oxygen ions. This produced element 106, with its half-life of 0.9 second. The scientists checked the element's presence by measuring alpha particle emissions as it decayed to form the "daughter" and "granddaughter" elements rutherfordium and nobelium.

In the March 7, 1994, issue of the same journal, Kenneth E. Gregorich, a chemist at Lawrence Berkeley, and his colleagues reported confirming element 106's existence.

Seaborg -- a towering, lanky legend, who at 82 still serves as associate director-at-large of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory -- described the honor as "greater than winning the Nobel Prize."

"A thousand years from now, seaborgium will still be in the periodic table, whereas the 20th-century Nobel Prize-winners will seem a very small part of history," said Seaborg, who also serves as chairman of the board of trustees of Science Service. "This honor will last as long as civilization."
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Title Annotation:to honor Glenn T. Seaborg, who contributed to the discovery of the transuranium element
Author:Lipkin, Richard
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Mar 19, 1994
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