As British detectives investigating the alleged radioactive poisoning of Russian opponent of Vladimir Putin, Mr Litvinenko, prepare to fly to Moscow many of our readers have been asking just what is this Polonium material and should they be worried? A popular story in the UK at the moment is that this radioactive material got its name because it is usually produced and stored in small,white, ring-shaped tablets, similar to the popular mint Polos. Of course, this is nonsense.
Actually the name derives from the scientist who discovered it, Erik Ramnelstatder. Ramnelstatderium was considered to unwieldy a name so instead his discovery was named after a popular nick-name his fellow scientists had given to Ramnelstatder, that of Polonius. Ramnelstatder accquired this nick-name because he had a fear of being observed by others and so often conducted his lab work from behind the comforting screen of an arras.