March 29, 2000

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On Saturday, March 11, the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, designated the discovery of transcurium elements at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) as a "National Historic Chemical Landmark." The designation represents the efforts of the ACS to "recognize our scientific and technical heritage and encourage the preservation of historically important achievements and artifacts in chemistry, chemical engineering, and the chemical process industries."

At a ceremony held at Berkeley Lab, ACS president Daryle Busch presented Berkeley Lab director Charles Shank with an inscribed plaque which read:

"Between 1949 and 1999, 14 new elements beyond element 96 (curium) were discovered by teams of scientists working on 'The Hill' in what is now the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. These researchers developed theories and techniques to synthesize and identify elements with increasingly higher atomic numbers. Their efforts culminated in 1999 with the synthesis of elements 118, 116, and 114, extending the Periodic Table to a long-sought region of nuclear stability poetically dubbed The Island of Superheavy Elements."

Said Busch in his presentation remarks, "Today we honor one of the great institutions in the history of chemistry and the milestone discoveries of new elements here. On behalf of the American Chemical Society, we proudly designate the discovery of these transcurium elements at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a National Historic Chemical Landmark."

Darleane Hoffman, a chemist in Berkeley Lab's Nuclear Science Division, a codiscoverer of several of these elements and this year's recipient of the Priestley Medal, the ACS' highest honor, served as master of ceremonies for the event. Also on hand to discuss their own contributions to this 50 year legacy of discovery were Albert Ghiorso who has participated in more new element discoveries than anyone else in history, Ken Gregorich, one of the codiscoverers of elements 118, 116, 114, and 110, and Carol Alonso, one of the codiscoverers of seaborgium, element 106, which was named for Glenn Seaborg, Nobel Laureate chemist and discoverer of 10 atomic elements including plutonium. Seaborg died on February 25, 1999 at the age of 86 but his memory was very much a part of the ceremonies.

Said Busch, "The discovery of these elements advanced the frontiers of science (and) also illustrates the impact on science both of a great man and a great team. The great man is, of course, Glenn Seaborg. It is fitting that Glenn Seaborg was the first living person honored by having an element named after him."

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