One of the newest members of the periodic table will likely have a familiar sound to it, even if the spelling might be a bit off: Tennessine.
Proposed as a nod to researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University, and UT who helped confirm its existence, element 117 would be only the second to be named for a U.S. state. Since the name Tennessee has its origins in the name of the Cherokee village of Tanasi, it also becomes the first element with Native American roots.
The International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry formally verified the discovery and has now put forth the name Tennessine—pronounced to rhyme with green—for public comment.
Robert Grzywacz, director of the UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Nuclear Physics and Applications and a physics professor at UT, served as UT’s connection to the project. Grzywacz helped develop a process that measures the decay of nuclear materials down to one millionth of a second, which was vital in proving the existence of the new element.
“We are beyond proud that the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has played a role in confirming this discovery and that our great state may have a permanent place in the periodic table,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “We congratulate and applaud the efforts of Dr. Grzywacz and the researchers involved in the discoveries. We look forward to celebrating this milestone in the university’s history.”
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