Can we get an Element of Magic to go with the Colour of Magic?

Yes, I spelled it “Colour” even though I’m American, because I’m referring to Terry Pratchett’s book, “The Colour of Magic”.  😉  The first of the Discworld books, it introduces the concept of an eighth color, invisible to most eyes but visible to magic users (and cats), which is indeed the color of magic: octarine.

It was octarine, the colour of magic. It was alive and glowing and vibrant and it was the undisputed pigment of the imagination, because wherever it appeared it was a sign that mere matter was a servant of the powers of the magical mind. It was enchantment itself.  But Rincewind always thought it looked a sort of greenish-purple.

But what if Octarine could really exist?  I don’t mean as the color of magic, but as an element.  The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), which makes all the rules about naming chemicals and elements and things, has verified the existence of elements 113, 115, 117, and 118, finally completing the bottom row of the periodic table.  (Probably not to be the bottom row much longer, as teams are already gunning for 119.)  This puts them up for naming, but by tradition, the discoverers get to suggest the names. IUPAC attributed 115, 117, and 118 jointly to the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, while 113 was attributed to Riken Institute in Japan, marking the historic first time an Asian team has been recognized and given the naming opportunity.

By IUPAC rules, elements can be named for mythological concepts, minerals, places, properties, or scientists.  The Chronicle Flask has submitted a petition on (you can sign it here!) to designate element 117 “Octarine”, with the symbol Oc (pronounced “ook”, in honor of Unseen University’s orangutan librarian).  Presently, they have over 45,000 supporters.  So even if it gets some boring old name, at least the idea is getting a lot of support.  😉


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