Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Elements--a diversion

Fear not--the well of ignorance here will never run dry. But for those with a taste for this kind of thing, I thought I'd mention the project Sam Kean is doing over at Slate. For the next few weeks, he'll be posting articles to his blog about the periodic table. I'm going to check it out as he goes along, and I hope you do too.

I followed such a liberal arts track through college that it's easy for me to forget sometimes that I actually enjoyed certain aspects of the science classes I took in high school. At least, I enjoyed the mysteries of the periodic table, even though I think it was rendered more opaque than it might have been by the heavy accent of our Eastern European born chemistry teacher. Still, he knew what he was talking about, if we had had but ears to hear. Anyway, I'd liked the neatness of the chart, even if I don't remember too much about it now. Maybe it's time to revisit that.

Anyway, if any of you happen to follow the links to read Kean has to say about the different elements and have your own thoughts about them, please let us know...  


  1. Thank you, Marco! That looks great.

    I suppose I ought to mention Primo Levi's Periodic Table as well, his book on his life in 21 elements. The only reason I didn't before is that I haven't actually read it.

  2. Nice find Seana. Now maybe I can learn what I should have learned in high school...

    One of these days, if I ever win Jeopardy, I'll be able to give the credit to all of these blogs.

  3. Learning to push the buzzer fast is important too, apparently...

  4. Seana

    You should read the Primo Levi, its very good.

  5. Marco

    He's only got 59 on there. He has a way to go.

  6. Yes, I want to read the Levi. I actually picked it up at work yesterday, thinking I'd buy a copy, but realized I can't get to it that soon.

  7. Haha Seana, I remember that particular teacher setting up an experiment to use the girls' bust measurements as data to illustrate the bell curve! A diversion of a different sort I suppose... BTW Primo Levy, excellent. Ann

  8. Hi, Ann--thanks for posting. You know, I must have blocked that part of his research out!

    I bought the Levi, by the way, though when I'll find time to read it, god knows.