The Periodic Table of the Elements is not just that boring square ouija board you were forced to look at in basic chemistry classes. I’m a geochemist, and to me the Periodic Table is a kind of historical atlas of the universe, a record of generations of stellar evolution, and a guide to understanding planets and their features, including life.
Youtube hosts a very cool collection of videos that each feature one element from the Periodic Table. The series creators, a team of chemists at the University of Nottingham, puts together each video as a sort of mini-sized science documentary. Their series is called the Periodic Table of Videos, and if you like this sort of thing, definitely check it out.
The PTOV doesn’t rely on flashy graphics, just clips of different scientists (one is apparently a Centauri) talking about an element; how they work with it, what it looks like, some of its more interesting or weird properties, etc. It’s a simple approach that really works for me. The videos are all short, 10 minutes or less, which is good because I’m easily distracted.
I just watched their newest update on Youtube, an episode on one of my favorite elements, number 92 – uranium. I’ve worked with uranium a long time – and no, as a result I neither glow nor have superpowers. Yet. Uranium is a really interesting element, even without the radioactivity. There are over 200 known uranium minerals, which is not bad for one of the rarest elements making up the Earth. There are bacteria that can breathe it. Seriously. Uranium, it’s not just for bombs anymore.