Californium, element 98, was first produced in 1950 at the University of California, Berkeley, by S.G. Thompson and others. The team named it as follows:
It is suggested that element 98 be given the name californium (symbol Cf) after the university and state where the work was done. This name, chosen for the reason given, does not reflect the observed chemical homology of element 98 to dysprosium (No. 66) as the names americium (No. 95), curium (No. 96), and berkelium (No. 97) signify that these elements are the chemical homologs of europium (No. 63), gadolinium (No. 64), and terbium (No. 65), respectively.1
The reference to nomenclature and homologs refers to europium and americium being named for continents, gadolinium and curium for people, and terbium and berkelium for towns. Dysprosium is not named for a university or place.
1The New Element Californium (Atomic Number 98), Thompson S.G., and K. Street, Jr., A. Ghiorso, and G.T. Seaborg, University of California Radiation Laboratory, UCRL-760, 19 June 1950, p. 24, http://www.osti.gov/accomplishments/documents/fullText/ACC0050.pdf.
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton