P is for Periodic Table

sodium (Na) and fluorine (Cl) hook up to make sodium fluoride (NaCl)

Before I get started, a JEOPARDY! Daily Double from 4/14/2010:
ONLY ONE VOWEL $2,000: Though it has only one vowel in its name, this element’s periodic table symbol is 2 vowels.

It’s been a long time since I took high school chemistry. Check out, if you would, this nifty dynamic periodic table. If you put the cursor over a category, it will highlight those elements in that category. If you click on the category, it will give you an encyclopedic interpretation of the group. This is likewise true for the individual elements.

One finds a similar function for the elements only here, with YouTube videos about how the elements are used, when available, and a brief history of the periodic chart, starting with Mendeleev arrangement of the 65 elements that were then known back in 1869. Indeed, most of the periodic tables I found online has some interactivity.

If these were available when I was in high school, maybe I would remember more about chemistry than this: the alkali metals in group 1 liked to hang out with the halogens in group 17, because the former had an extra electron hanging out and the latter was lacking one; thus sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl) hook up to make sodium chloride (NaCl), or salt. Conversely, the noble gases (group 18) didn’t play well with others.

One fun representation of the table is the Wooden Periodic Table Table which ended up winning the 2002 Ig Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with among other features, pictorial representations of some of the greats of science for which some of the latter elements are named, such as Curie, Nobel and Einstein.

But I was confused by the recent news that a new element, element 117, ununseptium (yeah, easy for YOU to say), described in the New York Times this way: “The team produced six atoms of the element by smashing together isotopes of calcium and a radioactive element called berkelium in a particle accelerator.” Wow. I thought the finding of elements would be more – I don’t know – elemental. (Here’s the story in the Christian Science Monitor and the Daily Mail). And only six atoms? There are things I know a lot about; this is NOT one of them.

ABC Wednesday
Oh, The JEOPARDY! question: What is gold? The symbol for it is Au.


Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

27 thoughts on “P is for Periodic Table”

  1. It was such a long time ago that I have to deal with the periodic table. It certainly have changed a lot since, with many newer elements as they are keep on smash things together.

  2. Fascinating but way beyond my limited brain-power. We have a periodic table in our posession signed by Glenn Seaborg who has an element named after him..Seaborgium.

  3. Glad my time with periodic tables is over. 🙂

    It’s my first time to join ABC Wednesday. Do drop by if you have time.

    Liz @ MLC

  4. Definitely not my best subject in high school, but the periodic table would be a lot of help and it’s nice to be reminded that the need for chemistry that I have at this stage of the game is never going to stress me out!

  5. Pretty and practical. Having recently watched Jim Al Khalili’s BBC series – Chemistry – A Volatile History, I might even remember one or two of them as well.

  6. Roger, That wooden table is very clever – I’m going to forward this to oldest daughter who is in midst of organic chemistry (she’s going to be a nurse!).

    I like your new look too!

  7. Once upon a time, I knew more than I do now but I know the gold symbol (a hobbyist gold panner at one point) and a few of the others that work in meds or Scrabble. I didn’t know one could build an element. Hm. I’ll bookmark those and read more. Interesting post!

  8. Congratulations on your new blog Roger!
    & very original P representation too. Nice job.

  9. Oh I have such unhappy memories of this from school! In one of our first lessons a few of us asked the Chemistry teacher if we had to memorise this table, to which she replied that we probably should. Well it looked like Swahilli to me and I knew there and then that I was *not* a natural at the subject. I was right – I think in my last exam before dropping the subject I scored about 32 percent (and that was me trying *really* hard)! 😀

  10. Fascinating post! My first thought was ‘gold’ but then I couldn’t remember the abbreviation for it, so I had to peek anyway!

    But I think you mean Sodium (Na) hooks up with Chlorine (Cl) not Flourine? I don’t think I’d like sodium flouride on my food! Although it might make my teeth stronger. LOL!

  11. We have a large pint mug with the Periodic table on it. Chemistry frightened me to death at school along with the teacher, Miss Jones. Another Miss Jones taught Physics and she was just as terrifying.

  12. I am proud that I knew that.

    By the way, you should try and find the video, or just download the song, “The Elements” by They Might Be Giants. It’s a great tune for kids, but one that adults can enjoy, too.

    Nigel has been getting into TMBG, and therefore so have his parents.

  13. I never ubderstood chemistry.

    What happens when you heat _____? I only remember water is H2O. Why did they teach Chemistry? I never know.

  14. I had a high school nightmare when I saw the table. As one who successfully avoided chemistry altogether, I can say I might have taken it if I had a “study guide” like this one. Then again, maybe NOT! And as for pluripresence…have you seen the movie “Multiplicity” with Michael Keaton? Those darn clones got him into a PLETHORA of trouble. 🙂

  15. Horrible ! that’s when I slept best at school, lol ! I hated everything concerning math, chemistry and physics ! lol !

  16. Somehow I never had to deal with that in school — but I did have to have a working knowledge of it when I was teaching. I think I might have been quite interested in it, even though my field is the arts. Glad I never had to memorize it though!

  17. wow, this wouldn’t have crossed my mind. ^0^
    lookin at it sure reminded me of my school days, where i have to memorize the whole chart thing, argh, definitely not my fave subject. ^-^
    nice one!

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