Temporary name of the chemical element with atomic number 106. It was first synthesized and identified more or less simultaneously in 1974 by A. Ghiorso and coworkers at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, California and by G. N. Flerov, Yu. Ts. Oganessian and colleagues at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research at Dubna, U.S.S.R..
In March, 1994, the Berkeley discoverers proposed naming the element seaborgium (symbol, Sg) after Glenn T. Seaborg, co-discoverer of plutonium and nine other elements. The American Chemical Society endorsed the proposal and the name was widely used.
On August 31, 1994, however, the Commission on Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, which was responsible for certifying the names of elements, announced that element 106 would be called rutherfordium, on the ground that elements were not to be named after living persons, and Seaborg was very much alive. The Americans were outraged; einsteinium and fermium had been named during the lifetimes of those physicists. Because of the controversy, in September 1995 the IUPAC Bureau at Guildford (UK) decided to change the standing of the committee’s list of names from “definitive” to “provisional,” and circulated it for comment.
At a meeting in Chestertown, Maryland in August 1996, the Commission decided to “modify its decision that the name of a living scientist should not be used as the basis for an element name.”¹ As a result, “the discovery of element 106 by the Berkeley laboratory is uncontested and the name proposed by the discoverers, seaborgium, was accepted.”¹
1. Inorganic Chemistry Division; Commission on Nomenclature of
Names and Symbols of Transfermium Elements (IUPAC recommendation 1997)
Pure and Applied Chemistry, vol. 69, no. 12, pages 2471-2473 (1997).
Available on the Web as a pdf file accessible through www.iupac.org/projects/1995/220_30_95.html
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Last revised: 14 December 2001.