Periodically Yours

By Jill Comment

Within this blogger beats the heart of a reformed sceince nerd (oh boy, were we proud to recall the definition of “isotope” during a recent trivia smackdown) so you can bet the words “Click here for a slideshow about the periodic table” were music to our ears.

Over on Slate, writer Jon Lackman writes that the periodic table we all knew, loved/hated, memorized, and stuffed into countless three-ringed binders has undergone a makeover, courtesy of Oxford ecologist Philip Stewart. Out with the blocks and the footnotes, in with the swirly color-coded “chemical galaxy.” (Click to enlarge.)

Lackman is pretty worked up about the whole thing:

In the eyes of some, the old table is tired and dull-looking. For others, it is precisely the table’s minimalism that has given maximum freedom to the imagination. If that plain gray square in the middle, adorned simply with the letters “Au” and the number “79,” could represent gold, then what exotica might lurk behind “Rb” (rubidium) or “Mo” (molybdenum)?

We’re not thrilled about this new development either, and we already foresee a huge drawback: We hear students are using the “Internet” more than ever, and the new design is nearly impossible to read on our dinky monitor. Plus, look at the generational divide it’s already creating. We referred to the Internet as a strange and unknowable phenomenon! It’s only a matter of time before we start referring to the new design as “newfangled.” Thanks a lot, Stewart!