Terry Pratchett fans are calling for the beloved author to be honoured by naming a new element in the periodic table after his popular Discworld book series.
Element 117 was recently confirmed by the International Union of Applied Chemistry and given a temporary symbol of Uus. Now, Dr Kat Day, a chemist, blogger and self-proclaimed “huge” Pratchett fan wants 117 to be named octarine [Oc] as a tribute to Pratchett, who passed away aged 66 from Alzheimer's disease.
And she is not alone. Over 30,000 people have signed her petition, which has even received the backing of Pratchett's official Twitter account.
Name element 117 Octarine? If you think that's a good idea - and we do - please sign the petition here; https://t.co/j9MzGXCfFf— Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) January 6, 2016
Octarine is the colour of magic in the series and the eighth colour in the Discworld spectrum. To those who could see it in the novels (that's wizards and cats), it takes on a greenish-yellow-purple hue.
Dr Day told The Independent naming the new element octarine would be a fitting tribute to Pratchett. "I follow the science stories, and of course, the new elements were everywhere," she said. "I was speculating over possible new names, and considering the 'ine' ending for group 17.
"I'm also a huge, long time, Pratchett fan and the idea just popped into my head: octarine ends in 'ine'! And it's 'the colour of magic', which is the title of his first ever Discworld book. What better tribute could there be? I had a feeling that Terry Pratchett would, if he was still with us, think that having octarine in the periodic table would be a fantastic (in the very literal sense of that word) idea. Of course, he had a great interest in science and co-wrote several popular science books, and there are lots of little sideways science references in his Discworld novels."
In her Change.Org petition, Dr Day writes: “Octarine is being counted as 'a mythological concept' under IUPAC rules, which state that elements must be named after 'a mythological concept or character; a mineral, or similar substance; a place or geographical region; a property of the element; or a scientist'.
“The Discworld stories are certainly stories about gods and heroes, and 70 million books surely count for something.”
Terry Pratchett: A career in quotes
Terry Pratchett: A career in quotes
1/13 “Inside every sane person there’s a madman struggling to get out” –The Light Fantastic
Pratchett photographed in 1990
2/13 "We Pratchetts are a feisty bunch"
Pratchett with his daughter Rhianna at home in 2009. Rhianna is now a writer in her own right and has written the storylines to video games such as Tomb Raider and Overlord
3/13 "It occurred to me that at one point it was like I had two diseases - one was Alzheimer's, and the other was knowing I had Alzheimer's"
Terry Pratchett delivers a petition on behalf of the Alzheimer's Research Trust calling for an increase in government funding for dementia research in 2008
4/13 "Imagination, not intelligence, made us human"
Terry Pratchett with his double-row of six computer screens in 2009
5/13 “If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story”
Pratchett was awarded an OBE in 1998
6/13 “Sometimes glass glitters more than diamonds because it has more to prove” - The Truth
Terry Pratchett launches his 25th novel of the 'Discworld' series, 'The Truth' in 2000
7/13 “Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you”
In 2007, the year he announced he had Alzeihmer's
8/13 "You can't ask a fantasy writer not to want a knighthood"
Receiving his knighthood in 2009
AFP PHOTO/Ian Nicholson/POOL
9/13 "Life doesn't happen in chapters - at least, not regular ones"
Pratchett at home in 2009
10/13 “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it”
Pratchett at the world congress of the World Federation of the Right-to-Die Societies in Zurich, 2012
11/13 “Inside every sane person there’s a madman struggling to get out”
Attends the South Bank Sky Arts Awards in 2012
12/13 "Insanity is Catching"
Pratchett won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize at the Telegraph Hay Festival, pictured with Snuff the pig in 2013
13/13 “People don't alter history any more than birds alter the sky, they just make brief patterns in it” - Mort
Campaigning for Dementia Friends in 2014
The petition faces competition from another calling for the element to be named after the late Motorhead frontman Lemmy, but Dr Day is still hopeful it could be considered.
"It's up to the scientists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, who discovered the element, to propose names, then the IUPAC has to agree them. But you never know, perhaps one or more of them is a Pratchett fan? Perhaps he's inspired them, as he has so many others. After all, a species of turtle has been named after him, Psephophorus terrypratchetti, so why not name an element after one of the ideas in his books? As he wrote, ‘million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten’.”
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