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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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September 21, 2012

We Were Ahead of the Crowd

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Posted by Derek

According to the Wall Street Journal, the periodic table is now cool. It's shown up as a design, uh, element in TV shows, on T-shirts, and so on. (The article even gets quotes from Tom Lehrer, who I'm glad to hear is still with us). And Theodore Gray's coffee-table book The Elements
has now sold 650,000 copies (one of them to me - I recommend it). Of course, Gray has the ultimate periodic-table fan item, if you can afford it:

People who lacked patience for a chemistry set can now buy periodic table shower curtains, T-shirts, coffee mugs and even a periodic coffee table. The furniture piece, made of burred oak with samples of inlaid elements, costs $8,550, plus shipping, which gets pricey. For safety reasons, fluorine, chlorine and bromine are forbidden on airplanes, says Max Whitby in London, who produces the table.

I'd add my own, if I had 9 long ones to spend on one of these. Thick-walled ampoules would do the job, although the fluorine would still present a problem (doesn't it always?) But I suppose most of the radioactive ones (except depleted uranium) are still out. Hand-rubbed varnish would probably stop alpha particles, but not much else.

Comments (13) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Chemical News


COMMENTS

1. newnickname on September 21, 2012 7:47 AM writes...

Anybody remember "Instruments for Research and Industry" (I2R - "I squared R")? They had an annual calendar with funny cartoons about lab life and UNIQUE PERIODIC TABLES. I can't even remember them all. Cylindrical PT, PT boxes scaled to natural abundance, and many others.

I2R made a lot of lab safety stuff (water flow sensors and shut off valves for distillations, safety shields, lead donuts, ...). I think they were also a "Profits for Peace" company.

Somebody bought out I2R. No more calendars. No more clever Periodic Tables.

Permalink to Comment

2. vasili on September 21, 2012 7:58 AM writes...

It is all because of "breaking bad" series, i cannot wait to the second part of the season, next year.

Permalink to Comment

3. Anonymous on September 21, 2012 10:40 AM writes...

Glas_Col bought them out. I had a periodic table mouse pad, which I used until it wore out. I have always been looking for another.

Permalink to Comment

4. dave w on September 21, 2012 2:41 PM writes...

Hmmm... they could make a container for the fluorine sample out of CaF2: it's one of the few substances that would be inert to fluorine, and it can be had in optically transparent form. (It's used in applications where its unusually low refractive dispersion and broadband transmission outweigh its compaatively poor mechanical properties as an optical glass.)

Permalink to Comment

5. Reality on September 21, 2012 7:31 PM writes...

@ dave 2

Good luck explaining that to the people who make the safety rules for air shipping.

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6. Jeffrey Soreff on September 22, 2012 8:12 AM writes...

>But I suppose most of the radioactive ones (except depleted uranium) are still out.

How radioactive? :-)
Technically, bismuth has been shown to be unstable,
but the half-life is 2x10^19 years...

More prosaically: Thorium? Rubidium?

Permalink to Comment

7. Anonymous on September 22, 2012 11:38 AM writes...

My own attempts to collect a portion of the periodic table as a younger chemist have lead to one or two 'inappropriate nocturnal uses of laboratory equipment'. My favorite was my attempt to obtain Si. My younger self said "Well, you can use Mg to reduce most metals out of their oxides, and Si is pretty much like a metal, right?".

Next scene: A crucible containing Mg powder and silica gel heated over a Bunsen until the sides glowed an alarming cherry red. After cooling, I looked at the black material in the crucible and congratulated myself on having produced elemental silicon. However, it must also contain MgO, so I thought "I'll just clean it up with a little HCl", not knowing that I had actually produced Mg2Si, which liberates SiH4 upon treatment with with HCl...

Anyway, I was able to recover a few black specks from the wreckage that I'm reasonably sure are probably the Si I was after. I suppose what I really produced was a reminder to be more thorough in my research before I dive in head-first.

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8. Eric Jablow on September 22, 2012 4:02 PM writes...

We all have americium in our smoke detectors.

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9. gippgig on September 23, 2012 4:53 PM writes...

Someone should make element trading cards containing a sample of the element (ideally the same thickness and number of atoms whenever possible so the size corresponds to the atomic volume). A small piece of foil a few mils thick is such a tiny quantity that cost & safety considerations should be minimal (except for highly radioactive elements).

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10. Anonymous BMS Researcher on September 24, 2012 9:03 PM writes...

Yep, most smoke detectors have around 0.9 microcurie of Americium, which means something like two million disintegrations per minute, mostly alpha particles (which is why Americium is used: the plastic stops them getting outside the device). Half-life of the isotope used is something like 430 years (I'm too lazy to look up the exact number) so essentially all the stuff on the planet is human-made.

Permalink to Comment

11. JediaKyrol on September 25, 2012 5:30 PM writes...

That reminds me there was an Edutainment cartoon series called "Element Hunters" where a single element would disappear from a area and turn into a monster in a parallel dimension...then a group of kids had to find it and beat it (usually with a light chemistry lesson). The opening song was the entire periodic table used in a silly rhyme.

The show could get grim at times...one of the main characters lost his parents to Carbon disappearing in an area they were in, and at another point in the show all of the Oxygen disappeared from a chunck of the ocean...results were...pretty bad.

Permalink to Comment

12. JediaKyrol on September 25, 2012 5:32 PM writes...

That reminds me there was an Edutainment cartoon series called "Element Hunters" where a single element would disappear from a area and turn into a monster in a parallel dimension...then a group of kids had to find it and beat it (usually with a light chemistry lesson). The opening song was the entire periodic table used in a silly rhyme.

The show could get grim at times...one of the main characters lost his parents to Carbon disappearing in an area they were in, and at another point in the show all of the Oxygen disappeared from a chunck of the ocean...results were...pretty bad.

Permalink to Comment

13. Dave on September 27, 2012 8:25 AM writes...

For those interested in a quick look at alternate depictions:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_periodic_tables

Permalink to Comment

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