Do these letters mean anything to you?  I expect not so please don’t worry if you have not seen them before. That said, they are the symbols for the most recent addition of elements to the periodic table.

To give these new elements their official names (and proton numbers) we have:

Nihonium (Nu) – 113

Moscovium (Mc) – 115

Tennessine (Ts) – 117

Oganesson (Og) – 118

What is interesting about the choice of names is that in a change from previous ‘new’ elemental names Ts and Og do not end in the customary ‘-ium’.

Can you figure out why the elements have the names that have been assigned?

Mc and Ts are probably the easiest – they are both names after the regions that were involved in their synthesis / discovery. I choose my words carefully here as all four elements are not naturally occurring (on the Earth anyway) but have been synthesized in labs.

Nu is named after Japan – in Japanese the official name is Nihon Koku, so the first part of Nihonium reflects this – which also allows you to realize that it was synthesized in Japan (at the RIKEN Nishina Centre for Science to be more precise).


I did wonder if Og was names after the US state of Oregon but have since found out that this is not the case – it is in fact named after nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian who has played a leading role in the quest for new elements.

It would be interesting to see (work out) the electron arrangement of these elements and to investigate their chemistry. Don’t expect to get answers too soon though as only a few atoms of each have been made and due to the large size of their nuclei they are extremely unstable.

Nh would be placed group 13, Mc group 15,  Ts group 17 and Og group 18 (making it a noble … gas? – This raises some interesting questions with regards to London Forces).

So, it may soon be time to update your periodic table to reflect these new names. I say soon as there is still a public period of consultancy occurring and this is due to finish at the start of October – but it is expected to be a formality.  I wonder when the IB will reflect these names in the data book?