Mendeleev's predicted elements

Dmitri Mendeleev published a periodic table of the chemical elements in 1869 based on properties that appeared with some regularity as he laid out the elements from lightest to heaviest.[1] When Mendeleev proposed his periodic table, he noted gaps in the table and predicted that as-then-unknown elements existed with properties appropriate to fill those gaps. He named them eka-boron, eka-aluminium and eka-silicon with atomic masses 44, 68 and 72 respectively.


To give provisional names to his predicted elements, Mendeleev used the prefixes eka-,[note 1] dvi-, and tri-, from the Sanskrit names of digits 1, 2, and 3,[3] depending upon whether the predicted element was one, two, or three places down from the known element of the same group in his table. For example, germanium was called eka-silicon until its discovery in 1886, and rhenium was called dvi-manganese before its discovery in 1926.

The eka- prefix was used by other theorists, and not only in Mendeleev's own predictions. Before the discovery, francium was referred to as eka-caesium, and astatine as eka-iodine. Sometimes, eka- is still used to refer to some of the transuranic elements, for example, eka-actinium (or dvi-lanthanum) for unbiunium. But current official IUPAC practice is to use a systematic element name based on the atomic number of the element as the provisional name, instead of being based on its position in the periodic table as these prefixes require.

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