In response to one of my earlier blogs, regular reader and “King of Comments” David Ashton sent me an email saying: “Hi Max, I Thought you might like this. It’s the brilliant Tom Lehrer putting the periodic table into song. I first heard this years ago on my car radio in Zimbabwe but did not catch who did it. Thanks to the magic of the internet I found it again.” (Click Here to see this video).
As it happens I had seen and heard this before – but it’s such a classic that it’s always worth taking the time to listen to it once more.
Of course this reminded me of that book called The Disappearing Spoon, in which the author – Sam Kean – walks us through the elements in the periodic table regaling us with tidbits of trivia and nuggets of knowledge and stories as to the people who discovered them and how they have affected us in terms of politics, art, war, and … all sorts of things (Click Here to see my review of this book).
And then this got me to thinking about a project I was involved with a while back in which I needed to do a little research on periodic tables (it will be easier for all of us if you don’t ask why [grin]).
To be honest, I hadn’t realized just how many variations of these little rascals there are. Even the standard one we all grew up with at high school comes in so many flavors that it makes your eyes water. If you go to Google and search for Periodic Table in Google Images (which, I would just like to say is an AMAZINGLY useful resource), you are presented with a mind-numbing plethora of possibilities.
Amazingly enough they are almost all subtly different from each other. In fact, bouncing back and forth between them I still cannot work out if Scandium
should be considered to be part of the Transition Metals
or if they are more properly considered to be part of the Lanthanide Series
. And should Hydrogen
really be considered to simply fall into the category of "Other Non-Metals" or should it be classed as a special category all on its own?
And that's just the standard form of periodic table. I'd forgotten just how many variations there are. For example, there's a Pyramidal Representation
as illustrated below:
Or there's a Spiral Presentation
as shown below (and don’t get me started on the 3D representations and other weird and wonderful beasts):
And then I blundered into the Wikipedia article on Electron Shells
. When I was at school things were much simpler. We didn’t know about all of the different sub-shells and how they related to the bigger shells. This was a "must read" for me – especially going through the big table showing the way in which the shells fill up with electrons. Everything starts off simply enough with the "lower elements", but look what happens when you go from Vanadium to Chromium... that was a real "eye-opener" for me (of course you probably know all of this stuff already, so you'll have to excuse my wittering on).
Part of this article features a standard representation of the periodic table, except that each "square" contains an image of the electrons and shells associated with that atom (Click Here
to see the high-res image).
And then, on my meandering travels around the internet, I ran across something really interesting. This guy has created a version of the periodic table showing the elements forming the human body
The five yellow squares represent the top five most common elements in the body; the green squares represent the next five; the blue squares represent the trace elements we need to survive; and the pink/violet boxes represent those elements you really want to avoid.
This is a really, really clever idea. On the one hand it's a simple concept... on the other hand I would never have thought about doing this myself...
I LOVE this stuff!