The Method: Tennessine Gets A Seat At The (Periodic) Table

Jun 29, 2016

University of Tennessee chemist George Schweitzer points to the spot on the periodic table now occupied by Tennessine. The name was announced on June 8.
Credit Matt Shafer Powell, WUOT News

This month, four new elements added to the periodic table received provisional names. One of those elements, number 117, was bestowed a name that got our attention, and perhaps yours, too: tennessine. If approved by an international body in November, Tennessine will join oxygen, carbon, helium and 114 other names on the periodic table of the elements.

The name tennessine was proposed as early as 2009, and an international team of scientists who helped discover element 117 agreed, honoring work done at Vanderbilt University, the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Tennessee is the second state to be honored by the naming of an element. California was the first, in 1946.

Here at The Method, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at what the periodic table tells us, and what tennessine'sĀ ranking shows us about its properties.

First up, Matt Shafer Powell speaks with University of Tennessee chemist George Schweitzer. They discuss how the periodic table came to be, and how it helps explain the materials that make up the known universe.

Then, Brandon Hollingsworth zooms in on tennessine, with the help of ORNLĀ researcher and associate lab director Jim Roberto. They'll talk about how tennessine's properties can be estimated by where it falls among its elemental neighbors.