Monday, November 13, 2006

A Photographic Periodic Table

I was talking to a friend from MIT a few years back, when she told me about this guy she used to date and what an incredible geek he was. Given her own tenure at MIT and her resultant accrual of a rather high level of nerd pride, it was indeed noteworthy to hear her cast such aspersions.

She went on to say "...he had even spent years collecting samples of most of the elements in the periodic table, and built a display case to hold them in the same layout." Though I didn't share it at the time, my first thought was "geeky or not, I would love to see it...maybe even build one of my own..." So I guess I'm a geek too.

What partly set off my imagination at the time, though, was the fact that the elements seemed very abstract to me when we first learned about them in high school chemistry. It wasn't until decades later in my technical career when I had been exposed to all the uses and applications of the different elements that there was any physical grounding for the abstract table. A little extra time studying the applications of the elements, and a physical sample of each one seem like a capital idea!

I never did manage the meeting or the initiative to build my own collection, but now I can get pretty close with a lot less effort. Check out this photographic table of the elements.

27x53 Poster
(click on the image for an enlarged version)

I particularly like the titanium turbine blade, the hydrogen in the nebula, and the neon bulbs for the noble gases. I'd still like to see more examples per element, including things like integrated circuits for silicon and aluminum and so on. But at least it's a start.

You can get all the posters and place mats you want here. Every chemistry classroom should have one!


Anonymous said...

Love it, The table alwyas looked to me rather abstract and distant. Unreachable is the word. This kind of brings it closer. Phil

Anonymous said...

Photographic periodic table is always a nice thing.