Flerovium and livermorium. Prime names for really ugly babies -- or, equivalently, new elements on the periodic table. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry opted for the latter last week, baptizing elements 114 and 116 just about six months after they were first ratified
. Back in June, as you may recall, Russia's Joint Institute for Nuclear Research proposed flerovium and muscovium as names for the two ultraheavy elements, while deferring to the IUPAC for final say on the matter. At the time, the organization said it would likely accept any name, as long as "it's not something too weird." Flerovium (Fl), named after Soviet nuclear physicist Georgiy Flerov, apparently passed that litmus test. Muscovium, sadly, did not. Instead, slot 116 will belong to livermorium (Lv), named after California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which collaborated on the discovery of the element, back in 2000.
Bill Goldstein, associate director of Lawrence Livermore National Labs' Physical and Life Sciences Directorate, heralded the decision as a celebration of his institute's collaborative contribution to chemistry: "Proposing these names for the elements honors not only the individual contributions of scientists from these laboratories to the fields of nuclear science, heavy-element research, and super-heavy-element research, but also the phenomenal cooperation and collaboration that has occurred between scientists at these two locations." The nomenclature isn't entirely set in stone, however, as the two names must first endure a five-month public comment period before appearing in chemistry textbooks.