thorium

Thorium, element 90, was discovered by Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius in 1828. Berzelius named the metal after Thor, the Norse god of thunder.1 The chemical symbol for thorium is Th.

But this wasn’t the first time that Berzelius named a substance for the god. In 1815 he called a compound, which turned out to be yttrium phosphate, thorjord, or Thor’s earth. The French flubbed the Swedish name, dubbing the compound thorine in their language, from which English took the name thorina (which is no longer in use.)2

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