Monday, December 11, 2006

Periodic Table of Geek Happiness

Interactive periodic table

There's just something about the periodic table of elements that summons up pleasant geekly nostalgia. I remember my first real brush with The Table back in 10th grade chemistry. I had always wondered about this mysterious poster that adorned most science classrooms I had ever seen.

This poster had it all: Mysterious numbers in various corners, each one hinting at some deeper esoteric scientific purpose. It had a comforting structure and order, somehow arranging the chaotic diversity of elements from neon to uranium into a regimented array of perfect little squares.

The periodic table was also a fertile source for memory-based flashcard learning around. Memorizing the elements is a rite of passage and a fun one at that. Pb = lead, H = hydrogen, Ne = neon, Am = "....ammonia...no...Americium!"

It was a gateway to the exotic. I was always most fascinated by the bad-boy, outlaw elements in the bottom rows of the table. Sure, the noble gasses had a certainly regal glow about them, but the crazy radioactive, recently discovered elements really got the mind going. I always imagined them pulsing with a soft green glow of deadly, insect-enlarging radiation.

But, alas, the periodic table fades to irrelevance for adults. Like the history of the pilgrims or of the laundry list of the presidents, it is pretty much exclusively used by school children, then quickly forgotten. Take a few minutes to get acquainted with your old friend the periodic table.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

No comment.

Chris said...

I'm baffled. There's a comment that says 'no comment'. This paradox threatens the very fabric of this universe.

Anonymous said...

I was always perturbed by the fact that many of the bottom row elements have only existed under extreme conditions, and even then for much less than a second. Basically, you get some scientist who gets to say "yes, I created something completely pointless, and for that honor I'll give it a name that is disrespectful to mother nature (what do women know anyway, right? (except all that is great)).

Oh yeah, I always loved Tungsten because its symbol was a curveball. I think it had something to do with Latin (whatever, right). Anyhoo, it came full circle for me b/c that is what my wedding ring is made of. Thank you periodic element chart! Thank you!

shannon said...

Fabulous! I have another resource for that element project I do every year! Finally Christopher helping me with school work!

matty said...

So, hydrogen and oxygen are getting a drink, and gold walks in and they go, "AU, get out of the bar."

Courtesy of "John Tucker Must Die"

shannon said...

I love it! That is the perfect science teacher joke!

Sarah said...

Is there really such a thing as the "perfect science teacher joke"? lol!