We’re all entirely too familiar with the phrase “all the good ones are taken.” Several times a week I hear from someone who wants a really good — and really relevant! — user name for Twitter or Tumblr or Instagram, or a short and snappy domain name. I used to inform them that the time to have asked for such a thing was N months ago, where N = more than they ever imagined. And it’s true even in highly specialized areas of interest:
So, you’re a chemist and you’ve finally decided to find out what all the fuss is about with this thing called Twitter. You decide to sign up, but, for whatever reason, you don’t fancy using your own name. Maybe an element; that would be cool wouldn’t it?
Indeed it would. But how many elements are there, anyway?
[T]here are 114 named elements (we’re ignoring those ununelementium placeholder names) to choose from. Surely some of the more exotic elements must be there for the taking? Well, no. Gone. All of ‘em.
“There may be many others,” said Tom Lehrer, “but they haven’t been discovered.” Fat lot of good that does you now, though.
And what about @gallium, anyway? He is a chemist, but not a very talkative one.