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Resolution RS2020-540

A resolution honoring Joseph H. Hamilton for his role in the discovery and naming of chemical element 117, Tennessine.

WHEREAS, the year 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of the announcement of the discovery of a new chemical element by an international collaboration of scientists including Joseph H. Hamilton of Nashville; and

WHEREAS, Joseph H. Hamilton, Landon C. Garland Distinguished Professor of Physics at Vanderbilt University, has had a renowned career as a nuclear physicist, and his role in the discovery of the new element was the culmination of many years of teaching and research in the field of nuclear physics; and

WHEREAS, Joseph H. Hamilton earned a bachelor of science in physics from Mississippi College and a master of science and Ph.D. from Indiana University, has been a member of the faculty of Vanderbilt University since 1958, and has taught and conducted research at other universities and laboratories around the world, with a focus on nuclear physics; and

WHEREAS, Hamilton has received numerous awards for his outstanding teaching and scientific research from educational, scientific, and international organizations including the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Outstanding Professor of the Year for the State of Tennessee in 1991; the Francis Slack Gold Medal Award for Outstanding Service to Physics, Southeastern Section American Physical Society, 2000; and the G. N. Flerov Prize for major achievements in nuclear physics research, given by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Russia, 2003, among many others; and

WHEREAS, the new element 117, tennessine, was made by a fusion reaction of element 20, calcium, with element 97, berkelium, through an international collaboration including Hamilton’ Vanderbilt Professor of Physics, Emeritus, A. V. Ramayya; and scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Hamilton was instrumental in the collaborative effort through his persistence in finding an opportunity for the production of berkelium at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The discovery of the new element was first announced on April 5, 2010; and

WHEREAS, the discovery of tennessine has an importance beyond helping to complete the seventh row of the periodic table of elements. According to Hamilton, it provides evidence for the existence of the long-sought, theoretically predicted “island of stability” in superheavy elements that should possess increased stability and novel physical and chemical properties that could lead to new technologies, such as compact energy sources; and

WHEREAS, Hamilton initially proposed the name tennessine to honor the state where three of the research collaborators – Vanderbilt University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the University of Tennessee – are located. The name was agreed upon by the entire team, submitted to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) in December 2015, and officially accepted by IUPAC in November 2016; and

WHEREAS, with the naming of tennessine, Tennessee became only the second U.S. state memorialized in the periodic table by having an element named after it, joining California which was the first, and the state of Tennessee owes Professor Hamilton a debt of gratitude for promoting this recognition.


Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as honoring Joseph H. Hamilton for his many contributions to science and especially for his role in the discovery and naming of element 117, tennessine, thereby putting our state not just on the map, but on the periodic table of elements, where it will, according to Professor Hamilton, be seen in physics and chemistry textbooks worldwide forever.

Section 2. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.


Burkley Allen, Thomas Cash, Russ Pulley, Brandon Taylor

Legislative History

Referred toRules, Confirmations, and Public Elections Committee

IntroducedSeptember 15, 2020

AdoptedSeptember 15, 2020

ApprovedSeptember 16, 2020

ByMayor Cooper's signature

Requests for ADA accommodation should be directed to the Metropolitan Clerk at 615-862-6770.

Last Modified: 09/18/2020 4:25 PM