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Physical Chemistry

Recognizing alchemy

June 6, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 23

In the editorial “Predicting Elements’ Names” (C&EN, March 28, page 3), Bibiana Campos Seijo discussed the task of naming the four new chemical elements. I understand and, of course, agree that such decisions belong to the institutions that discovered these particular elements, but I still regret that, on the periodic table, no element has been named after an alchemist.

Alchemists conceived of transmutation. Although their conception of it has no connection with reality, this idea deserves to be rewarded. I propose that this omission be repaired through the naming of the four new elements and suggest two options: flamellium (for Nicolas Flamel, symbol Fa) and paracelsium (for Paracelsus, symbol Pc). My preference is flamellium because Flamel claimed to have made transmutations, while Paracelsus is best known for his work in the field of health (for example, concerning the concept of active ingredients).

Armand Lattes
Toulouse, France

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