For the science-inclined, there is something very sexy about the periodic table and how, by a simple accounting of protons in atomic nuclei, its neat rows and columns reveal the peculiar behaviors of elements—the irreducible components of our world. Anyone who has taken time to ponder the periodic table has his or her favorites, whether it’s based on their explosive properties (potassium), their illustrious namesakes (curium, named after the Curies), or their silly abbreviations (Uup, Uuh).
An amazing team at the University of Nottingham has been sharing its love of the periodic table by making short Youtube videos of all 118 elements, from helium to ununoctium. The team goes to great lengths to showcase the elements, including handling vials of highly toxic arsenic and traveling to frosty Ytterby, Sweden (the birthplace of yttrium, ytterbium, terbium, and erbium). Check out the entire Periodic Table of Videos.
Their latest video is called “What Element Would You Like for Christmas?” in which they pose that question to researchers, all of whom seem to have a ready answer. One researcher selects neodymium, for its Christmas-y colors; more than one picks platinum, the most expensive element. What would you pick?
The Nottingham researchers aren’t the only ones obsessive about the periodic table. This guy even got it tattooed in his arm. Theodore Gray has spent the last five years collecting and photographing every single element. You can even purchase posters of his work. In his office, Gray stores his precious specimens in a literal Periodic Table, a wooden four-legged table with 118 cubbies.
Image: flickr / Tator1982