Prof. Dr. D. Brynn HIBBERT

Brynn Hibbert is a former, and now Emeritus, professor of  Analytical Chemistry at UNSW. He is a go-to expert witness in the courts on matters chemical, particularly on drugs of abuse (in society and sports), although he has been known to do the occasional murder. As a member of committees of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)  he has been involved in the formal recognition process of new elements, his first  foray being Copernicium (element 112) and most recent Oganesson (118). In 2019 he won the first essay competition on ‘stories from the periodic table’ organised by the RACI with his tale of the discovery of iodine (and which will be re-told in his talk). Brynn is a Vice President of the RSNSW, and was President in 2016 – 2017.

The Periodic Table “A medley of haphazard facts falling into line and order”

D Brynn Hibbert AM FRSN FRACI FRSC
Secretary of ICTNS of IUPAC. Emeritus Professor of Analytical Chemistry, UNSW Sydney, NSW, Australia.

The ancients had isolated and named around thirteen substances, mostly metals, not necessarily realising they were unique, chemically-indivisible ‘elements’. With the discovery of Oganesson (118 Og) we have completed the seventh row of the modern periodic table. In between, the science of Chemistry has been built on the discovery and manipulation of more and more of the elements that make up our world.

2019 was declared the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements, being the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the modern periodic table by Dmitri Mendeleev.

The talk, which is for a general audience, will look at the history of our concept of ‘element’ from ancient times, through Mendeleev (whom we celebrated in 2019), to the present day. Deciding whether an element has been discovered is the job of IUPAC and IUPAP (the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics), but naming is the sole responsibility of IUPAC, determined by the Inorganic Division.