Technology.am (July 18, 2009) — Professor Sigurd Hofmann and his team at the Center for Heavy Ion Research (GSI) in Darmstadt, discovered and suggested the name “copernicium” with the element symbol “Cp” for the new element 112.
They suggested the name “copernicium” in honor of scientist and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543). It was Copernicus who discovered that the Earth orbits the Sun, thus paving the way for our modern view of the world.
Thirteen years ago, element 112 was discovered by an international team of scientists at the GSI accelerator facility. A few weeks ago, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, IUPAC, officially confirmed their discovery. In around six months, IUPAC will officially endorse the new element’s name.
Copernicus was born 1473 in Torun; he died 1543 in Frombork, Poland. Working in the field of astronomy, he realized that the planets circle the Sun. His discovery refuted the then accepted belief that the Earth was the center of the universe. His finding was pivotal for the discovery of the gravitational force, which is responsible for the motion of the planets. It also led to the conclusion that the stars are incredibly far away and the universe inconceivably large, as the size and position of the stars does not change even though the Earth is moving. Furthermore, the new world view inspired by Copernicus had an impact on the human self-concept in theology and philosophy: humankind could no longer be seen as the center of the world.
Element 112 is the heaviest element in the periodic table, 277 times heavier than hydrogen. It is produced by a nuclear fusion, when bombarding zinc ions onto a lead target. As the element already decays after a split second, its existence can only be proved with the help of extremely fast and sensitive analysis methods.