Darmstadtium 110

Darmstadt is one of only six cities in the whole world that have elements named after them.

There are no such elements as newyorkium, chicagoium, londonium, amsterdamium or frankfurtammainium, but there is an element called berkelium after the city of Berkeley, California.

There are also elements called dubnium after the Russian city of Dubna, hafnium after the Latin name for Copenhagen, holmium after the Latin name for Stockholm and lutetium after the Latin name for Paris.

And there is now an element called darmstadtium, which was first discovered in the Wixhausen district of Darmstadt in 1994. But it wasn’t just lying around on the street waiting to be discovered. They had to go to a lot of trouble to make a few atoms of it (by bombarding a target of lead-208 with accelerated nuclei of nickel-62). Darmstadtium is highly radioactive and not very stable.

An atom of darmstadtium has 110 protons, which is quite a large number when you consider that an atom of hydrogen gets along perfectly well with only one proton, helium with two, lithium with three, beryllium with four, boron with five, carbon with six, nitrogen with seven, oxygen with eight, etc.

By the way, if you should hear some jocular German scientist talking about an element called “policium”, don’t worry, she or he really means darmstadtium. Policium is just its unofficial nickname because 110 is the number you have to dial in Germany to call the police.

My photo in this post is from 2008. I revised the text in 2024.

See more posts on Darmstadt, Germany.

5 thoughts on “Darmstadtium 110”

  1. Interesting and I’m sure I’ll run into Policium in a novel sometime soon and now know what it is. Did you know Trekki from VT lived in Darmstadt for years? She moved away fairly recently.

    1. Yes, I once visited Trekki in Darmstadt. She was living there because of her work, and she always said she was going to move away when she retired.

      1. I always remember Darmstadt because of sending postcards to Trekki there, so it’s been nice to learn about this city. Now she has moved to Speyer I think it is.

  2. Fascinating to read and learn, Don. I wonder if they should call the next unstable element Politicium (or you could substitute the name of the politician of your choice-I tried to leave it open ended so each could select their own).

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