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2017 Advent Calendar of Fascinating Websites – Day 4 – Periodic Table

Getting Elemental

Royal Society of Chemistry’s Periodic Table http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table

So how many people have as their party trick the elements song? Written by Tom Lehrer in 1959 and sung to the tune of the Modern Major-General from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance it included all the elements of the periodic table known up to that time (No. 102 nobelium), although not in table order. The song is such a classic it pops up periodically (no pun intended) referenced or performed on various television programmes, including NCIS (episode Ex-File), Big Bang Theory (episode The Pants Alternative) and this performance by Daniel Radcliffe on The Graham Norton Show in 2010.

While this song lists elements in any order, chemists have always tried to create order to the elements, listing them by similar properties. The modern periodic table therefore is a list of elements in increasing atomic number order. In this interview Jim Parsons (the actor who plays Sheldon in Big Bang Theory) talks about the nightmare of learning the elements song and then asks, but what do they mean, what are Germanium, Neodymium? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0CeO9P6ZyA This is where our site of the day could have helped him.

If you have ever wanted to know more about the periodic table then The Royal Society of Chemistry has got it covered. http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table

Royal Society of Chemistry's Periodic Table

Their interactive periodic table includes information about each element tabulated by element and enhanced by the beautiful Visual Elements artwork of Murray Robertson. Or you can explore the table by examining the history of individual elements, their use in alchemy, podcasts by Chemistry World and videos that include a visual interpretation of the periodic table of elements by Murray Robertson and the Periodic Table of Videos from the University of Nottingham. So Jim Parsons, the answer to your query is that Germanium is element number 32, it was discovered in 1886 by Clemens Winkler, it is represented by the symbol Ge, appears as a brittle, silvery-white semi-metal and was used in the production of early transistors and you will find Neodymium in laser pointers, mobile phones, microphones, loudspeakers, electronic musical instruments, car windscreen wipers and wind turbines to name just a few!

Royal Society of Chemistry's Periodic Table with Visual Elements by Murray Robertson

If you want to outshine Daniel Radcliffe and Jim Parsons and learn the elements in the right order then try this video by ASAP Science  https://www.youtube.com/user/AsapSCIENCE/featured – but be warned, although the new updated version of this periodic table song was produced in 2015, it is already a tiny bit out of date!


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