After more than three years of sometimes fierce debate, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has tentatively reached agreement to name element 106 Seaborgium after Berkeley's Glenn T. Seaborg.
Seaborg is a former chancellor, professor of chemistry and associate director-at-large of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
In 1951, he shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry with former lab director Edwin McMillan for "their discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements."
Seaborg has said the naming of an atomic element for him is the greatest honor he has ever received, even better than winning the Nobel Prize.
"Future students of chemistry, in learning about the periodic table, may have reason to ask why the element was named for me, and thereby learn more about my work," he said in 1994, when the name was first proposed.
The naming of Seaborgium and five other elements now only requires confirmation by the union's members at its August meeting. The chemical symbol will be Sg.
Seaborgium is in the family of "transuranium" elements -- those beyond uranium on the periodic table. Uranium, element 92, is the heaviest known naturally occurring element. The transuranium elements can be artificially created in particle accelerators. Seaborgium has a half-life of less than a second.
The naming of element 106 has not had an easy road. Element 106 was co-discovered in 1974 by Berkeley lab physicist Albert Ghiorso and Kenneth Hulet, a chemist with Lawrence Livermore National Lab.
Their effort to name their element in honor of Seaborg was supported by the American Chemical Society in 1994, but ran into resistance by IUPAC.
Finally last week, it was agreed that Seaborgium had prevailed. Confirmation of names for elements 104, 105, 107, 108, and 109 is also expected in August. Their names, respectively, will be Rutherfordium, Dubnium, Bohrium, Hassium, and Meitnerium.