About and FAQ Info for Authors Future Articles Archive Store Home Page Home Page

September 18, 2014

Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science | Volume 1 | SOFD 3

A proposed revision to the Periodic Table of the Elements

Joint Fellowship of Chemists and Physicists (JFoCaP)1
1 - PNIS

click for pdf

The Periodic Table of the Elements, as most of us are familiar with (shown in Fig. 1), is a staple in classrooms, textbooks, and scientific novelty gifts[1]. Its contributions to chemistry and physics extend well beyond just as a handy reference guide to the elements and their properties. For instance, it has been used to predict the existence of elements, it has contributed to the discovery of the atomic nucleus, and its development over the years has helped form entirely new branches of science, such as quantum mechanics. Thus, the Periodic Table has been referred to as one of the most important ideas in modern chemistry and physics. However, there is a dark secret that the Periodic Table has been hiding ever since its familiar structure seen in Figure 1 was introduced in the 1920’s: it’s not really a table.

Figure 1. A typical example of the Periodic Table of the Elements (source: Wikipedia.org).

A table is defined as an “orderly display of data, usually arranged in rows and columns” (American Heritage Dictionary). While this definition may seem to apply perfectly to the Periodic Table of the Elements, there are several reasons why we believe the Periodic Table should not actually be considered a table:

1. Real tables have header rows, which contain the names of each column. Most Periodic Tables don't have this header row, or, if they do (like in Fig. 1), they are simply just numbers.

2. Tables are usually rectangular in shape. The Periodic Table can hardly be called a rectangle and, if anything, resembles a city skyline more than anything else.

3. Tables don’t have gaps—that is, there should be information for each cell, or, if no information exists, there should be a “—” or “NA”, or something similar. The Periodic Table has many large gaps, most notably in the first, second and third rows.

4. Some depictions of the Periodic Table, including the one published by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), contain a legend to explain what the various numbers and letters mean. Tables don’t have legends!

5. Other depictions of the Periodic Table contain arrows, mostly to denote the lanthanide and actinide series. Tables don’t have arrows!

6. Please, how is this a table?

However, perhaps the most convincing evidence is that scientists don’t even reference the Periodic Table of the Elements as a table. For instance, here is Glenn T. Seaborg, the namesake of the element Seaborgium, writing in the Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry: “Thus these calculations are consistent with the modern periodic table (Fig. 1)[2]” [emphasis ours]. And, here’s Björk Hammer in Advances in Catalysis: “metals to the right for copper, silver, and gold in the periodic table (Fig. 10)[3]” [emphasis ours]. Thus, if scientists refer to the Periodic Table of the Elements as a “figure”, then it cannot be a “table”.

Thus, we propose two courses of action regarding the current Periodic Table of the Elements. First, we propose that the Periodic Table, as we know it visually (Fig. 1), change its name to something more accurate. We recommend “The Periodic Schematic of the Elements”, because Fig. 1 most closely fits the definition of a schematic. Secondly, we propose that an actual Periodic Table of the Elements be constructed; one that actually is a table. Because the JFoCaP at PNIS are women and men of action, we have constructed such a table and present it here in this paper.

Advantages of the Periodic Table over the Periodic Schematic
Before we actually present our table, we would like to point out several advantages of this new Periodic Table of the Elements over the now-named Periodic Schematic of the Elements.

1. This table is now consistent with the conventions of academic writing. Incorrectly referencing the old Periodic Table as a figure likely added to the distrust that the public has towards scientists.

2. The name of each element is spelled out, contrary to some previous versions of the Periodic Schematic in which just the element symbol was given. We expect this innovation to drastically decrease the misspelling of certain elements (like aluminium, praseodymium, and tin).

3. Our table is alphabetical, which will surely save time when researchers are looking up valuable information on specific elements.

4. Our table includes a “Fun Fact” for each element. Inclusion of these fun facts will make the table more amenable to children and makes the learning of the elements more fun (hence, "Fun Fact").

The predictive ability of our Periodic Table of Elements
One of the key aspects of the Periodic Schematic of the Elements is that it is predictive—gaps in the schematic denote the existence of some yet-undiscovered element. We would like to point out that our Periodic Table of the Elements can also predict the existence of new elements. For example, from our alphabetical arrangement of the elements, we can see that there is no element that starts with the letter “J”. Thus, we predict that the next element discovered will begin with “J”. We do not know exactly what this element would be named, but there are some possibilities. If the discoverers want to honor a previous scientist, which has been a popular naming trend for new elements, we recommend “Jimium” because this is a very popular name, and it is very likely that some important scientist has had (or will have) the first name of Jim (or James, Jimmy, Jamie [this variant also makes Jimium gender-neutral], etc.). Another good possibility is “Jesusium”, especially if the discoverers want to repair some of the current rift between science and religion.

Printable copy provided
One disadvantage of our Periodic Table of the Elements is that it is rather large and not as compact as the Periodic Schematic of Elements. Thus, we have also provided a pocket-sized version of our Periodic Table (see Appendix A; only available in the pdf version).

And, now, we can present to you, in the very first time that this phrase has been written completely 100% correct: the Periodic Table of the Elements (Table 1)!

Table 1. The Periodic Table of the Elements (Sym. = symbol of the element; No. = atomic number of the element

Element Sym. No. Fun Fact
Actinium Ac 89 The first non-primordial radioactive elment to be isolated (whatever that means)
Aluminum Al 13 Was once more valuable than gold and silver
Americium Am 95 All other elements resent its tremendous freedom
Antimony Sb 51 Any fun fact about Antimony is false
Argon Ar 18 Proud protector of the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence
Arsenic As 33 Only reacts with the yet undescribed element OldLacium
Astatine At 85 Is the last element named that doesn't end in "-ium"
Barium Ba 56 Did you know that barium enemas are actually a thing?
Berkelium Bk 97 Thought to be the rarest element on Earth; naturally your partner now wants jewelry made from Bk.
Bismuth Bi 83 Also the capital of North Dakota
Bohrium Bh 107 More like Bore-ium! Right! Wait...
Boron B 5 Odds are, you ate some Boron today
Bromine Br 35 Bromines always come before Holmiums
Cadmium Cd 48 Nice to see that China has replaced the lead in children's toys with the just-as-toxic Cd
Caesium Cs 55 The literal "liquid gold": melts at near room temperature and turns gold-colored
Calcium Ca 20 The most abundant metal in our bodies (for everyone who is not The Wolverine)
Californium Cf 98 Unless you have a nuclear reactor that won't start, you don't need to worry about Cf
Carbon C 6 So important, they made an entire branch of science dedicated to it
Cerium Ce 58 Thought to repel sharks; unsure if it is the main ingredient in Shark-Repellent Bat-Spray
Chlorine Cl 17 aka, the element that everyone thinks is named Chloride
Chromium Cr 24 I believe this is what Optimus Prime was coated in to protect him from the Hate Plague
Cobalt Co 27 The patron element of painters
Copernicum Cn 112 Ironically, the only element in which the nucleus orbits the electrons
Copper Cu 29 Probably the first element to be discovered and used
Curium Cm 96 Only element to be named after a married couple
Darmstadtium Ds 110 Looks like they finally named an element after your Dad's made-up swear words
Dubnium Db 105 The only element named after a US President
Dysprosium Dy 66 It's name roughtly means "hard to get", although you can currently get it for $9/gram
Einsteinium Es 99 First found after the detonation of the first hydrogen bomb in 1952
Erbium Er 68 Actually should be named Terbium, but I guess no one really cares
Europium Eu 63 Won Element of the Year in 1890 and 1952
Fermium Fm 100 Also found after the detonation of the H-bomb; maybe we should do those more often...
Flerovium Fl 114 Apparently named by Jerry Lewis
Fluorine F 9 So poisonous that early scientists died while trying to isolate it
Francium Fr 87 Previous names: ressium, alkalinium, virginium, moldavium, catium (yes, there was almost a cat element)
Gadolinium Gd 64 If you've had an MRI, you've probably had this element injected into you
Gallium Ga 31 The anti M&M: it melts in your hand and you should never put it in your mouth
Germanium Ge 32 The only element named after a member of the Jackson 5
Gold Au 79 If you had all the gold ever mined, you would have US$8.5 trillion
Hafnium Hf 72 I don't want to alarm anyone but our Hf reserves may only last 10 more years
Hassium Hs 108 Just got depressed because I realized that Hs (created in 1984) is younger than me
Helium He 2 The US military is the top consumer of He. In second place is Macy's
Holmium Ho 67 There are no fun facts about Holmium
Hydrogen H 1 90% of all the atoms in the universe are H atoms. The other 10% are your mom.
Indium In 49 I loved it when this element found the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis
Iodine I 53 Necessary for all animal life, as well as turning-seeds-purple experiments
Iridium Ir 77 No, this is definitely what Optimus Prime was coated in
Iron Fe 26 There are 2 tons of Iron available for every person on earth
[space reserved for future element beginning with J]
Krypton Kr 36 Sad to think that people probably know more about Krypton the fictional planet than Krypton the element
Lanthanum La 57 The first element of the lanthanide series (aka, the elements you didn't have to learn in 8th grade)
Lawrencium Lr 103 Um, to be honest, I wasn't expecting this many elements to find fun facts for
Lead Pb 82 The symbol Pb is from the latin plumbum, and that's how we got plumbers!
Lithium Li 3 The lightest metal, and a Top 5 Nirvana song. Coincidence?
Livermorium Lv 116 There are more Honus Wagner baseball cards than atoms of Lv
Lutetium Lu 71 Probably the most expensive metal; your partner wants jewelry made from Lu, too
Magnesium Mg 12 Mg-fueled cars are a possibility until you realize that water can't put out Mg fires
Manganese Mn 25 I would imagine Manganese to be the most popular username in the Online Manga community
Meitnerium Mt 109 If you're not counting mythological characters, it's the only element named after a woman (Lise Meitner)
Mendelevium Md 101 What the hell is a geneticist doing here? Oh, sorry, Dmitri Mendeleev
Mercury Hg 80 Just Youtube "Mercury Thiocyanate"
Molybdenum Mo 42 Membership in the International Molybdenum Association is $7800
Neodymium Nd 60 Can produce the strongest f***ing magnets possible, yet we still don't know how they work
Neon Ne 10 Unsurprisingly, the first US business to use Neon lighting was an LA car dealer
Neptunium Np 93 "Why can't you be more like your brothers Uranium and Plutonium? They're successful!"
Nickel Ni 28 A US 5-cent nickel contains about 2 cents worth of actual Ni
Niobium Nb 41 Was once named after the United States until the Europeans took that away from us
Nitrogen N 7 Arguably, it's the most important use is to fill the widget inside Guinness cans
Nobelium No 102 No, Dr. No, No is not No. N0, nor is it part of NO, nor does it have no n0's
Osmium Os 76 Also the debut album of George Clinton's funk band Parliament
Oxygen O 8 The most abundant element in our bodies, the Earth's crust, and the oceans. It's kind of a big deal
Palladium Pd 46 Uses for the element Pd < Things named Palladium (like nightclubs)
Phosphorus P 15 The first element to be synthesized from biological material (urine!)
Platinum Pt 78 You must be a Platinum Member of PNIS for this fun fact
Plutonium Pu 94 Its symbol should be Pl, but its founder suggested the jokey Pu (pee-yew) because scientists are nerds
Polonium Po 84 The KGB's poison of choice. Also found in tobacco!
Potassium K 19 95% of it is used as a fertilizer. The other 5% is used by chemistry teachers to make water explode
Praseodymium Pr 59 As of this writing, Pr has 59 likes on Facebook
Promethium Pm 61 Uses (according to Wikipedia): luminous paint, atomic batteries, and thickness measuring devices
Protactinium Pa 91 In 1961, Britain spent half a million dollars to make 125g of this now-perceived worthless element
Radium Ra 88 Remember when they put this in toothpaste, water, soaps and anything else? Ah, the good old days...
Radon Rn 86 Second leading cause of lung cancer. You can guess what the first is
Rhenium Re 75 Also apparently the debut album of George Clinton's funk band Parliament
Rhodium Rh 45 Paul McCartney owns the only Rh-plated album for being the all-time best-selling songwriter
Roentgenium Rg 111 The answer to the question: What happens when we mash together Bismuth and Nickel?
Rubidium Rb 37 Um, it has 37 protons? We got nothing here
Ruthenium Ru 44 Finally, an element named after a baseball player
Rutherfordium Rf 104 Caused quite the naming controversy in the 90's. I can see why, it's not a good name
Samarium Sm 62 This is better! An element named after the Samuraii!!
Scandium Sc 21 Should we be worried that Russia has huge stockpiles of Sc?
Seaborgium Sg 106 Would be a better element if the "Sea-" was changed to "Cy-"
Selenium Se 34 1 ounce of Brazil nuts will give you 700% of the daily recommended intake of Se
Silicon Si 14 A favorite of sci-fi writers trying to invent life-forms that are not Carbon based
Silver Ag 47 The Inventor's Element: more patents involve Ag than any other element
Sodium Na 11 Nothing blows up water better than sodium
Strontium Sr 38 Most misleading element name; Sr is so weak that it even burns in air
Sulfur S 16 Christians know this element better as "brimstone"
Tantalum Ta 73 How does Tantalus get an element named after him before Zeus does?
Technetium Tc 43 First elment to be artificially produced (also probably only element discovered from a piece of trash)
Tellurium Te 52 Does your breath smell like garlic? Blame it on Te poisoning!
Terbium Tb 65 One of four elements named after a village in Sweden (Ytterby)
Thallium Tl 81 Its nickname (Inheritance Powder) would be great, if it didn't have such dark implications
Thorium Th 90 I probably didn't have to tell you that this was discovered by a Norwegian
Thulium Tm 69 Named after the planet Thule, where Count Dooku attempted to revive the Dark Reaper
Tin Sn 50 Tin's an element? When the hell did Tin become an element?
Titanium Ti 22 Thank God my camping cookware is made of Ti or else I'd never be able to backpack across this county park
Tungsten W 74 Common in the mineral scheelite, which was named after State Sen. Clay Davis
Ununoctium Uuo 118 So, it's not not an octogon?
Ununpentium Uup 115 Scientists continue to explore element 115 apparently having never played Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Ununseptium Uus 117 The most recently discovered element (2010)
Ununtrium Uut 113 Un...Un...Um...Who's naming these elements? Rumplestilskin?
Uranium U 92 Was once a popular component of pottery glazes (like for Fiestaware) even after people knew it was radioactive
Vanadium V 23 Is considered toxic, which is odd since it's also marketed as a dietary supplement
Xenon Xe 54 The Warrior Element
Ytterbium Yb 70 The only element to start with a Y
Yttrium Y 39 Well, except for this one
Zinc Zn 30 Zn-deficiency affects about 1 in 4 persons. Is this a bad time to point out we could run out of Zn by 2050?
Zirconium Zr 40 Combine with two Oxygen atoms and you finally have an affordable engagement ring!

[1] See these examples from zazzle and cafepress. [Return to main text]

[2] Seaborg G (1996) Modification and expansion of Mendeleev's Periodic Table. Vol. 203:233-245. [Return to main text]

[3] Hammer B (2000) Theoretical surface science and catalysis - calculations and concepts Vol 45:71-129. [Return to main text]



comments powered by Disqus



Creative Commons License
Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science (PNIS) by https://instsci.org/ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.