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Solution to papal chemistry challenge
) National Research Council Canada
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, ON K1A 0R6,
The papal chemistry challenge sought to find a lesser-known
connection between pontiffs and chemistry. In particular, we
were given the clue this element is Pope . In the absence
of context, this clue might be rather obscure and ambiguous.
However, for a good reason, the challenge delved into the
systematic nomenclature for naming newly discovered or not
yet discovered elements.
Recall that the symbol of an element in the IUPAC
systematic nomenclature is formed by stringing the first letters of the
corresponding numeral prefixes (0 = n, 1 = u, 2 = b, 3 = t, 4 = q,
5 = p, 6 = h, 7 = s, 8 = o, 9 = e). Because the symbol of the
hypothetical chemical element with the atomic number 5859 is
Pope, we can certainty say that this element is Pope.
Although impractical, many other interesting words could
be formed from the symbols of hypothetical elements using
IUPAC systematic nomenclature. To this end, several other
world leaders have their element. For example, (President)
Bush furnishes element 2176, the late (Benazir) Bhutto element
271338, and Queen (Elizabeth) element 41990. Such a playful
approach to chemical nomenclature might perhaps inspire those
who find nomenclature boring.