Copernicium, element 112, was first synthesized in 1996 at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (Institute for Heavy Ion Research) in Darmstadt, Germany by a team led by Sigurd Hofmann. The discoverers proposed the name in honor of Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543). The name copernicium is expected to be officially approved by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) at its January 2010 meeting.1

The chemical symbol for copernicium is Cn. The symbol Cp had been proposed originally, but was disallowed by the IUPAC committee recommending the nomenclature because element 71, lutetium, once had an approved alternative name, cassiopeium, with that symbol.2

1”New Element Named ‘Copernicium,’” BBC News, 16 July 2009,

2”Name and Symbol of the Element with Atomic Number 112: IUPAC Provisional Recommendation,” peer review draft, 2009, p. 3,

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