About a quarter of the way through Peter Wothers’ new book, Antimony, Gold, And Jupiter’s Wolf: How The Elements Were Named, I realized how much of an understatement that subtitle is. Wothers has done much more than supply origin stories for the elements’ names — he’s told the tale of societies slowly learning how to communicate with one another in a rapidly changing world.
A fifty-year search comes to an end, a periodic table ’round your neck, and lithium is looking as volatile as ever. It’s time for an Element Update!
The story of indium is pretty straightforward, but its namesake is practically impossible to pin down.