An interactive periodic table

May 26, 2015 • 2:45 pm

TED-Ed has created a nice interactive periodic table of the elements. If you click on the screenshot below, you’ll go to the site, and then just click on the element of your choice for a several-minute video that explains it. (Alternatively, if you click on “get full lesson” below the video, you’ll go to a page with even more information.)

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 1.51.01 PM

h/t: Elibeth


36 thoughts on “An interactive periodic table

  1. Oh man, I could spend hours on that site. I don’t know sh*t about the details of most elements…neat.

  2. I’ve been watching Periodic Videos channel for years and they have a lot of really great stuff. Brady Haran is the producer and he has many other great channels (Numberphile, Sixty Symbols, Deep Sky Videos etc.) worth watching.

  3. Martin Poliakoff is famous for his Youtube chemistry videos, which are now incorporated in this Ted-Ed periodic table. I met him once when he visited the U of Chicago chemistry department when I was a postdoc with the late Jeremy Burdett. If I’m not mistaken, both Burdett and Poliakoff worked with J J Turner (a pioneer in photoelectron spectroscopy) at the same time. Some chemists believe that Turner should have shared the Nobel for photoelectron spectroscopy with Kai Siegbahn (in 1981). Anyway, Poliakoff is terrific and personifies what every kid thinks a chemist is suppossed to look like! For those interested in another very useful on-line periodic table, see here.

  4. During his What If? book tour, I saw Randall Munroe give a talk on whether it would be possible to construct a periodic table made of actual samples of each element, and all the horrible ways you could die trying.

    1. There are numerous element collectors out there, folks who have a sample of every element on the periodic table (except the rare ones, of course.) Just Google “element collectors” and you should find a few.

      1. Munroe wasn’t talking about microscopic samples in vials. He was talking about stacking up bricks of pure elements into a periodic table. (Apparently this is a question he gets a lot.)

        Watch here.

  5. THIS IS A GREAT IDEA, I have forgotten a lot of my college chemistry, and this table will prevent me from feeling like a total Boron!

  6. Neil deGrasse Tyson on Charlie Rose last night. Made a good comment on how journalists have to stop showing “both” sides of scientific questions!!

  7. This is great! I immediately went to zirconium. My uncle, Loren C Hurd, was a metallurgical chemist (PhD, UWisconsin, 1929, post-doc, U Hannover early ’30s – heady times!) and (as learned well after the fact) was part of the Manhattan Project. Later, he was president of Metals Disintegrating, a NJ company that after his death was acquired by Alcan.

    I was only 7 when he died (1957), so I’ve only pieced snippets of his career together, but I did know from one paper that he had a special interest in zirconium-based enamel coatings, held patents involving zirconium salts, etc. Now, from the TED talk, I begin to see, maybe completely incorrectly, a connection between zirconium and the Manhattan Project.

      1. Nope, Minnesota. My grandfather, Herbert B., was the first dentist in LacQuiParle County ca. 1900, in case there’s an intersection there.

        1. Love the name LacQuiParle!
          Just knew some Hurds growing up at our summer place near Ligonier, PA. Must be a different family. Not a common spelling, I would think. Elsie Hurd married Sandy McAdoo (from Phila.), who coincidentally turned out to be the cousin of Tina, a good Stanford friend of mine.

    1. Zirconium is used as cladding for nuclear fuel elements, hence the connection with the Manhattan project. It has a low capture cross-section for the neutrons produced by the fission process. These neutrons gradually convert any element to the next higher element in the periodic table: a form of corrosion. Zirconium does not easily capture neutrons, so is consequently more resistant to this kind of corrosion than most metals.

      1. Further insight, thanks! BTW, the only anecdote from the Manhattan Project from my uncle that filtered down to me via my father yrs later – my uncle was in a naturally top-secret meeting and afterward a number of the attendees were having a conversation in the parking lot. One put his foot on the bumper of a car and bent over to tie his shoe. As he did my uncle noticed the license plate of the car – U-235!

      2. Ohhh, ‘S’ process of nucleosynthesis, or ‘R’ process? I’m going to have to revise my nuclear geochemistry.

    1. The discoverers of a new element have the honor of naming it. However, names for new elements must be approved by IUPAC, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, which is chemistry’s governing body. Check them out here: The element-naming process is largely political, as you might imagine.

      You’ll see a lot of elements named for the places they were discovered. The small Swedish town of Ytterby has 4 elements named after it. Others are named after California,UC Berkeley, America, France, Poland, and Germany.

      Others are named after people: Einstein, Fermi, Curie, Meitner, Hass, Seaborg, etc. The element copernicium, named after Copernicus, was somewhat controversial since he was not a chemist or physicist (or alchemist). However, he is honored because of his overall scientific contributions. Seaborg is the only person to have an element named for him while he was still alive.

      Elements with 3-letter abbreviations have either not been discovered yet or not officially named yet.

      1. In my high school chemistry class our teacher was telling us about a race between American and Soviet scientists to produce the next element in the periodic table (at the time). The Americans did it first and named it Americium. My friend yelled out, “They should have named it In-your-faceium!” I have no idea if the story was accurate, but I will never forget it.

        1. In my high school chemistry class our teacher was telling us about a race between American and Soviet scientists to produce the next element in the periodic table (at the time). The Americans did it first and named it Americium.

          Hmmm, that sounds pretty implausible. I’m pretty sure that Americium was known well before the Manhatten Project started building bombs, and so before overt Russo-American nuclear rivalry.
          From Wikipedia :

          Americium was first produced in 1944 by the group of Glenn T. Seaborg at the University of California, Berkeley. Although it is the third element in the transuranic series, it was discovered fourth, after the heavier curium. The discovery was kept secret and only released to the public in November 1945.

          And :

          This member of the actinide series is located in the periodic table under the lanthanide element europium, and thus by analogy was named after another continent, America.[2]

        2. I wouldn’t be surprised if that story were true during the Cold War.

          At present the 2 major labs competing for element discovery are a lab in Darmstadt, Germany, and a lab in Dubna, Russia. My understanding is that the labs are fierce competitors. Both labs have discovered and named elements, darmstadtium and dubnium, respectively. Both names were the subject of considerably political infighting.

    2. I suspect it was discovered at Livermore Labs, though at first glance it might suggest something else. 😀

  8. Every materialist should have one. My favorite is gold, but we shouldn’t underestimate oxygen.

    1. Yes, there is at least 1 “updated” version of Lehrer’s song. But Lehrer’s is still the best 🙂

      Actor Jim Parsons had to memorize Lehrer’s song and sing it on an episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” Parsons said he had a helluva time learning all the element names, but that he still remembers the song after a few years.

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