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107
Stories About Chemistry

INDEX

35.  On the Track of False Suns

   In the eighties of the last century one of the chemical journals published a curious article. The author, hardly known to the scientific world, reported that he had succeeded in detecting two new elements at once. And he gave them the pompous names of kosmium and neokosmium. At that time the discovery of new elements had become quite a mass phenomenon.

   Some investigators did not even take the trouble to think up names for the "newborn" elements and denoted them by letters of the Greek alphabet.

   It soon became apparent that the "discoverer" of kosmium and neokosmium had just been making fun of this discovery epidemic. The article was a kind of April-Fool joke. The author's name was Kosman.

   There are one hundred and four elements in the Periodic Table. One hundred and four actual discoveries of elements have been registered in the history of science. Besides this list, there is another one, incomparably longer, including several hundred names. Such is the "church calendar" of stillborn elements, those that came to life as a result of delusions, experimental errors, and sometimes simply carelessness on the part of investigators.





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- 90 -
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- 40 -
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- 20 -
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