Livermore, California, is one of only six cities to have an element on the periodic table named in its honor, and on Monday, June 24, city members and scientists gathered in Livermore to celebrate that feat.
It was a celebration long in the making. A team of scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) partnered with scientists from Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions in Dubna, Russia, and in 2000 they announced the discovery of the two heaviest elements on the periodic table, 114 and 116. On May 30, 2012, the names of these elements were adopted by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). Element 116 was named Livermorium (Lv) in honor of LLNL and the City of Livermore. Element 114 was named Flerovium (Fl) in honor of the Flerov Laboratory.
Naming chemical elements is one of the ways in which the chemistry community acknowledges people who have made important contributions to the advancement of science. Anne Stark, a spokeswoman for Livermore National Laboratory, explained that the name Livermorium was selected based on the two groups of scientists who discovered the elements. “Naming an element is quite a process,” she said. “It takes several years to name it.”
That is why the Livermore Lab and the City of Livermore had plenty of reason to be proud of Livermorium’s induction to the periodic table. LLNL hosted a ceremony on Monday to celebrate the discovery of Livermorium, Flerovium, and the scientists who made the discovery possible.
All the members of the discovery team were presented with special bottles of commemorative “Livermorium” wine from Tenuta winery in Livermore so that the pioneering scientists could celebrate in the tradition of Livermore’s thriving wine culture.
After a celebration at the LLNL, the City of Livermore held another ceremony to dedicate a plaza in downtown Livermore as Livermorium Plaza. The plaza is located at 116 N. Livermore Ave., a fitting location for a public place in honor of Element 116.
Livermore Mayor John Marchand presented the Livermorium Plaza with a commemorative plaque and declared May 30 as Livermorium day.
Dr. John D. Petersen, executive director of the IUPAC, the organization which acts as the world authority on chemical naming, explained that the super heavy elements 114 and 116 were “created in a laboratory by bombarding heavy elements with other heavy elements.”
What exactly is Livermorium? Petersen clarifies that it is a radioactive element which lasts for shorter than a second before it decays.
“Some people may think [Livermorium] is a useless enterprise because it doesn’t last very long,” Petersen said, “but it helps us fit the puzzle together and figure out how to best use the periodic table.”
Petersen acknowledged that the LLNL has been one of the major players in the development of the periodic table. He said, “(LLNL) has been one of the major labs involved in doing that work."