Tags: science


elements! gotta catch 'em all

The Periodic Table Table is far too cool not to share.

What is it?

  • It's a periodic table...table. As in, an actual wooden table, with the different element groups made of different parts of wood. It's gorgeous, yet incredibly complicated, like some medieval apothecary's makeup cabinet.
  • It's a receptacle for element collecting. Each element tile hides a nook for a small, pure sample of the element described. The collection isn't going as planned, since a lot of elements cannot be procured in quantities small enough or cannot be stored safely enough in the table. But that's not stopping builder Theodore Gray (who also happens to be the co-founder of the company that makes Mathematica), since...
  • It's an interface to showcase Gray's already frighteningly comprehensive element collection. Which, yes, does contain many of the radioactive elements (in homemade lead containers!), rare metals, noble gases, and so forth typically omitted by pictorial representations of the periodic table. What started ostensibly as a lark (as reflected by the low price tags he boasts of on many of his samples) is now a collection to rival that of many museums. In fact the publicity surrounding Gray's collection has earned him a couple gigs constructing periodic table displays for museum and university exhibitions, and he now sells glossy posters of his collection for classrooms and gift shops.
  • It is a rare and wonderful opportunity to finally see for yourself, sometimes in 360 frame Quicktime VR, what every visible element in the table looks like. As well as what it's used for, where it's found, and whatever relevant anecdotes from Gray's sordid past as a hedge chemist he can cook up. I found his articles on cesium, uranium, silicon, and aluminum particularly compelling. I would also be remiss not to mention his gleefully reckless sodium party, which is very much the kind of thing high school chemistry teachers spend a good hour warning their kids not to do and then run out and do themselves.