Thousands sign petition to name new element in Pratchett's honour

Thousands sign petition to name new element in Pratchett's honour

A petition has launched to name a newly-discovered element "octarine" - the colour of magic in the late Terry Pratchett's novel of the same name.

The petition to name element 117 in Pratchett's honour has attracted more than 41,500 signatures in under a week.

Pratchett died in March 2015 after battling Alzheimer's.

Dr Kat Day, a "huge fan" and chemist, began the petition on Wednesday (6th January), in part because Pratchett had "a great interest in science", shown through the many "sideways science references" in his Discworld novels and co-authorship of popular science books.

Day said that that the name "makes perfect sense" particularly since "a halogen element 117 ought to have an 'ine' ending".

She said: "Over 70 million Pratchett books have been sold worldwide, in 37 different languages, and lots of them concern heroes, gods and monsters. 

"Octarine, in the Discworld books, is known as ‘the colour of magic’, which also forms the title of Pratchett’s first ever Discworld book. According to Disc mythology, octarine is visible only to wizards and cats, and is generally described as a sort of greenish-yellow purple colour. Something that’s difficult to find and hard to observe; what could be more perfect?"

"If nothing else I’m absolutely certain that Sir Terry, the author of the Science of the Discworld series of books, would have a little chuckle at the idea."

In Pratchett's The Colour of Magic (Corgi) "octarine" is described as “the King Colour, of which all the lesser colours are merely partial and wishy-washy reflections" and "the undisputed pigment of the imagination".

The element, along with elements 113, 115, 117 and 118, will be officially named by the scientists that discovered them, who based at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, in coming months.