O no!

By Phil Plait | June 3, 2010 7:35 am

This animation is a pretty good lesson in chemistry … but I’m not sure it’s all that safe for little kids.

No, that helium atom was not me in middle school. But I never dated the Hydrogen twins either. I guess my life is a little bit more Boron than Oxygen.

Tip o’ the O2 tank to BIL Chris Setter.

MORE ABOUT: chemistry

Comments (37)

  1. Chris

    Arrgg, sooo many errors. Electrons group in threes now?

  2. I guess my life is a little bit more Boron than Oxygen.

    That’s pretty elementary.


    The Hydrogen twins + the Oxygen atom = Ménage à trois. 😉

    (Definitely not safe for little kids!)

  4. Casey

    I was hoping that Sodium would join their threesome.


    I cannot Barium these silicon puns!

    P.S. “Intelligent Design” and “Electric Universe” are both just Hafnium-Arsenic pseudoscience!

  6. Pieter Kok

    That is great, and I’m sure my four-year old will love that!

    As for the “not for little kids”, that’s nonsense. Your own dirty minds are running overtime. :)

  7. @IVAN3MAN

    Can’t we just iron out our differences? I mean, I zinc you’re taking it a little too seriously.

  8. There’s potential here. Both for more interactions with oxygen, and for more videos of other elements.

    But it looks like it was just a one-time school project. Sad.

    Someone call George Hrab and have these guys make a video for his songs about the elements.

  9. Rob

    Re: electron groups in threes – isn’t that just Oxygen’s outer six conveniently split up so they don’t get all over the place?

  10. Paul Turnbull

    Wonderful and perfectly fine for kids.

  11. Kat W

    That’s hilarious! XD

  12. schism

    Re: electron groups in threes – isn’t that just Oxygen’s outer six conveniently split up so they don’t get all over the place?

    Or fewer things to animate.

  13. I take issue with the mixed metaphors here. Are those individual atoms? Are those the incarnate personifications of the element in general? NERD RAGE GROWING

  14. Bruce

    I think the IRONy would be lost on the little ones.


    @ Todd W.,

    I Cæsium your point, but Sulphur it has Lead us nowhere.

  16. Mort

    I know, my pun is SODIUM, but I couldn’t bite my TUNGSTEN.

  17. Messier Tidy Upper

    LOL. :-)

    The original funny video here & # 9 Todd W. too. 😀

    Just one nit to pick – Oxygen repels Helium – does it really? I didn’t know that – or if I did I’ve forgotten.

    Plus doesn’t Helium escape our upper atmosphere being too light to be retained by Earth’s gravity hence we don’t have it but Jupiter does?

    Finally, I wonder if Oxygen could find a friend at last there with stainless steel? -)

    PS. @ Whoever made that clip – please make some more with other elements too. That was neat. :-)

  18. Pi-needles

    Those puns are gold but I do wonder about some of the Praseodymium. 😉

    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praseodymium )

  19. Pi-needles

    Maybe they should have Oxygen meet Magnesium? 😉

    No, that helium atom was not me in middle school.

    Sadly, the Helium atom *was* me in primary school days.

  20. @Pi-needles

    Maybe they should have Oxygen meet Magnesium?

    I’m sure it would be a relationship full of heat. An energetic, but short-lived tryst.

  21. I’m starting to think we could all really bond over this. Judging from the comments, I think there’s a lot of chemistry between the posters. I mean, how could we not with a role model like the BA, with his silver tongue?

  22. Its a marvelous video. I hope someone takes the idea forward.

  23. Keith (the first one)

    Aww. They’re so cute. I feel a bit sorry for He though, poor thing.

    I like how when the 2nd H jumps on O, they briefly make the shape of the water molecule before splashing.

    One slightly annoying inconsistancy. If He floats up, why don’t the H twins float up too?

  24. DrFlimmer

    @ Keith (the first one)

    Well, actually Hydrogen flows up and escapes even easier than Helium. That’s why we have no free hydrogen in our atmosphere (which is good…). Another point is that unlike Helium Hydrogen easily couples with any other atom, it is very reactive, just like Carbon and Oxygen (e.g.). So, whenever there is some free Hydrogen, like those twins, they will react almost immediately with something else, they have no time to escape (unless the react with each other ;)) – and the video would have been less cool when the H twins just flew away before poor Ox met them.

  25. agentsarahjane

    @ 11 Rob:
    Oxygen has 6 valence electrons in its “p” orbital so the animation is right. :) . I don’t remember everything from high school chemistry but I remember this! (Thanks Mr Harville!) 😛

  26. Rory Kent

    “Arrgg, sooo many errors. Electrons group in threes now?”

    I really wish the creators of these videos would just Thorium-Indium-Potassium.

  27. Keith (the first one)


    Maybe their shoes were just really heavy, and that’s what kept them on the ground. I was gonna say their bows but they float down after the reaction so it wouldn’t have been them.

  28. Simiankolya

    Wow, I wish I had seen that back in the day. I bet I would have done much better in Chemistry in high school and college if that was our curriculum… although, I wonder how they’d explain organic chemistry with similar metaphors.

    If we’re going to keep kids interested in basic science, there need to be a lot more entertaining teaching tools like this available.

  29. jcm

    This is also cool:

  30. Jess Tauber

    These puns have Gold me to no end, but I see not point in Carbon about it further.

    Jess Tauber

  31. DaveS

    I think it was cool that the oxygen character was pale blue.

  32. Stan9FOS

    Very cute. Reminds me of the old Disney educational films they showed us in elementary school; “Donald Duck in Mathemagic Land” and the like. Yes, I’m that old.
    Plus, that Alka-Seltzer video is way cool, indeed. Thanks, jcm.


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