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IYPT Elements

IYPT 2019 Elements 099: Einsteinium: Almost the first element named after a living person

Element 99 in our International Year of the Periodic Table series is einsteinium. Einsteinium was almost the first element to be named after a living person and has been used to synthesis other, heavier elements.

As of 2019, there are only two elements in the periodic table which have been named after a scientist who was still alive at the time of the naming: seaborgium and oganesson. However, einsteinium was very nearly the first element for which this would have been the case. When its name was proposed, Albert Einstein was still very much alive. However, he died before the name was confirmed.

Being an element that has to be created in nanogram amounts rather than found, and which decays quickly into other more stable elements, einsteinium doesn’t have any uses or applications of note. It has, however, been used to help make other, heavier elements, including mendelevium, which we’ll meet shortly.

Remember, you can keep track of all of the previous entries in this series on the site here, or on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s dedicated page.