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Naming the Elements: a Former Suggested Use of ‘Plutonium’


In view of the recent naming of new elements, the following two quotations, which have lately come to my notice, may interest or amuse historians of science. They refer to an early claim that barium oxide can be reduced by the oxyhydrogen blowpipe. In Thomas Thomson's famous “System of Chemistry” (5th edit.; London, 1817), vol. 1, p. 342, we read: “Dr. Clarke has decomposed barytes by exposing it to an intense heat, produced by thee combustion of a stream of oxygen and hydrogen gas, mixed together in the requisite proportions to form water. He has given to the metal of barytes the name of plutonium.” It appears that, in this quotation, ”barytes“ means barium oxide and not the sulphate, as now (see below).

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WEBB, K. Naming the Elements: a Former Suggested Use of ‘Plutonium’. Nature 160, 164 (1947).

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