The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) added copernicum to its list of officially-recognized elements this week. Element number 112, previously named ununbium, was given a permanent title after seven months of debate.
While the scientific community applauded the addition of copernicum to the periodic table, the news came as a shock to comic book store manager Randy Ununbium, who had reportedly gotten used to sharing his name with the element.
Ununbium, 37, of Dubuque, Iowa., was "distraught" when he heard the news. "This whole element thing came at a really bad time," a subdued Ununbium said. "I just registered www.ununbium.com, and now it's basically useless."
Added Ununbium, "I guess it could be an okay name for a rock band or something."
Ununbium's friends noticed changes in his behavior in the weeks leading up to the IUPAC announcement. "At first, Randy tried to stay positive about the whole thing," said Pete Collins, Ununbium's roommate of nine years. "He had all these plans to sell t-shirts and coffee mugs with his photo on them, but now, he hardly gets out of bed." Collins believed Ununbium's depression has its roots in childhood, saying "I think this was just the first time he felt accepted by people, and now it's been taken away."
Ununbium, though still plagued by occasional bouts of depression over the ordeal, has found support in an online community. "He's got a long way to go before he'll be over the whole thing completely. Putting money into marketing was a rookie mistake," said Cheryl Unununium, 42, of Pensacola, Fla., one of the community's moderators. Unununium's own like-named element was rebranded Roentgenium in 2004.
Despite receiving invaluable online support, Ununbium still faces an uncertain future. "What am I supposed to tweet about now?"