I recently signed a petition to new one of the new elements (number 117) Octarin, in honor of Terry Pratchett. They asked for a reason, and this is what I wrote. Visit the petition here if you’d like to sign as well.

Sir Terry Pratchett was a profoundly imaginative man and a lover of science and critical thinking. His satirical fantasy Discworld series known and loved worldwide, translated to over 3 dozen languages. Sir Terry had a lifelong interest in science, especially natural history and astronomy, and was a trustee for the Orangutan Foundation UK as well as an amateur astronomer. He also collaborated with professors from the University of Warwick to create four “Science of the Discworld” novels explaining the science behind his fictional universe.

Scientists have long understood the role that imagination plays in their profession; Albert Einstein is often quoted saying “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.” (Cosmic Religion and Other Opinions and Aphorisms) Carl Sagan, arguably one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century, said of imagination: “We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads. But to find the truth, we need imagination and skepticism both.”(Cosmos)

I believe that with these nods to the importance of imagination, scientists would welcome the addition of such a man as Sir Terry Pratchett to the periodic table of elements, elements that define our very existence. That is why I am signing this petition to name element 117 as “Octarine” in his honor.

Thank you.