11 November 2011

Periodic Table of Videos

The Periodic Table of the Elements compresses an amazing amount of information into 118 boxes, one for each chemical element. The most stunning revelation of the table is the regularity of patterns formed by the similar properties of elements in each group (column), which has come to be explained by the quantum structure of the electron clouds around atoms of each element. More about the table here (Wikipedia).

image of periodic table
Unfortunately the periodic table can be a bit dry and boring. So much information! But by combining the delights of chemistry with the enthusiasm of videojournalist Brady Haran we get The Periodic Table of Videos--one of the coolest science teaching projects I have heard of since Khan Academy.

Here is a sort of history of the Periodic Table of Videos on the main page of its YouTube channel. The project's official site is here. Click on any of the elements in the table and view a video about the element and its properties, often with hands-on demonstrations, the more explosive the better.

Concerned about the radioactive strontium-90 released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactors, or showered on many of us during the era of above-ground nuclear testing? Here is strontium's YouTube video.

Did you enjoy Uncle Tungsten, Oliver Sacks's biographical celebration of his early interest in chemistry (and one of the most delightful introductions to the periodic table)? Click "W" on the table and watch this video.

What about the most important element, number 47? (The number 47 rules the universe.) See silver on the screen.

And then there's gallium, used in semiconductors and fancy solar cells. Or why don't we end with a bang with caesium (aka cesium)?

Have fun exploring these videos on your own.

[Hat tip to Grrl Scientist for mentioning Periodic Table of Videos in her Guardian blog Punctuated Equilibrium.]

[Image from Periodic Table of Videos homepage.]

David Wheat's Science In Action site has articles about science and math in the real world, weird science, science news, unexpected connections, and other cool science stuff. There is an index of the articles by topic here