Seaborgium, element 106, is the only element named for a living person. The element was first synthesized in 1974 by a team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1997, at the suggestion of its discoverers, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) named it for American chemist Glenn Seaborg (1912-1999), the Nobel laureate who contributed to the discovery of ten transuranic elements.1 Because Seaborg was still alive at the time, the name was controversial and only settled as part of the 1997 compromise that named elements 101–109.
(Some sources state that the precedent for naming an element after a living person was set with einsteinium, but the announcement of the discovery of that element and its subsequent naming did not occur until after Einstein’s death.)
The chemical symbol for seaborgium is Sg.
1”Names and Symbols of Transfermium Elements (IUPAC Recommendations 1997),” Chemistry International, 1998, Vol. 20, No. 2, p. 38, http://www.iupac.org/publications/ci/1998/march/recent.pdf.
Copyright 1997-2015, by David Wilton