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The Periodic Table Table


Hi, my name is Theodore gray in 1988 I co-founded Wolfram research along with Stephen Wolfram and others somewhere around 2002 I kind of accidentally got sidetracked and started working on a periodic table table, which is what you see here. Around 2002 I read this book uncle tungsten by Oliver Sacks Which is a wonderful book and he has a paragraph in there where he describes a periodic table in the Kensington Science Museum. And he describes it as having samples on it it turns out. I was just misunderstanding his description of the thing and it’s actually a wall displays. He said same with everybody else’s periodic table but this kind of put the idea in my head that there ought to be a periodic table table and as far as I could tell no one had ever done it before I kind of researched the situation and that’s what caused me to build it as I thought the world needs a periodic table table. So I mean this there’s there’s lots of different elements in here. Hydrogen is is a little tricky because it’s a gas so this this is a little aspirin bottle which at one time was filled with actual hydrogen and a key card from the hydrogen hotel. This is a sample I don’t usually keep out because if somebody were to drop it and break the bottle it would it would really be bad. I think OSHA would have opinions about spilled mercury in a workplace. I really like tungsten. I can’t quite get an impression of it but that took me a while practicing being able to actually lift this thing because this weighs about 11 pounds. Everyone always asked me what my favorite element is so I had to make up titanium as my favorite element. And this is an intake it’s called a BLISK, a bladed impeller disk So niobium is nice. It’s it’s one of its more popular uses is for piercing jewelry because it’s hypoallergenic. It’s it’s compatible with tissue. The noble gases are relatively easy to display because they have very nice discharge colors. You can see an example of neon up there. Chlorine if you hold it up to a white surface, you can make out the yellow tint in it. Bromine even more so. That’s got a much stronger color to it. Bismuth it just wants to crystallize like this he kind of it’s hard to stop it when cools. This is an ingot of indium which I got. I think I paid $200 for this. The safe is where I keep some of the more valuable samples. Three and a half ounces roughly of gold. Very old silver coins. That’s platinum mesh. A gold nugget an ounce of platinum. Ten ounces of silver which used to be not worth much and recently the price of silver has gone through the roof. Silver bullets. I made these for one of my columns and finding out for werewolf purposes. Niobium crystal bar. It’s created by a refining process that’s no longer used so hard to get. Rhenium which was not particularly–I think I bought it for $700 at one time it was worth many thousands. It’s very dense, very nice stuff. Actually, I don’t know how many samples
I have. I have it several thousand. I have counted them recently. It’s only a very small amount of it is in the actual table. These two cases have many of these sort of interesting ones, the sort of more attractive looking ones. There’s a bunch of stuff in here. This is one of my favorite tungsten samples. It’s ear weights. It’s not terribly well organized. This is a bottle of Radithor which I won’t touch because the cork is quite radioactive. which whose ears are meant to hang down, you can spread wax on the inside of the ear and sprinkle this powder on that will supposedly add enough weight to get your dog’s ears to lie flat. Beryllium gyroscope spheres–extremely precise spheres. They’re said to be among the most accurate spheres ever made, sort of through various different purity levels of silicon. Why Homer Simpson is etched on that wafer is a question that I really have no idea. Actual human bone with a fake knee implant in it, made of aluminum. Sulfur used to be very commonly available in pharmacies. When I was a kid, I had worked hard at figuring out how to buy sulfur because you needed to make gunpowder and the most important factor about buying sulfur when your kid is don’t try to buy saltpeter at the same pharmacy because then they really know what you’re gonna do with it. The three shells are white phosphorus, incendiary, mortar shells. The long thin thing with veins at the back is an unfortunately a simulated depleted uranium tank penetrator. Well, I mean I figured that when I got started with this, I thought you know, my dad collected rocks for example. He spent his whole life, just every once in a while, he’d buy another really nice rock and and after 30 or 40 years He spent his whole life, just every once in a while, fantastic collection of rocks and minerals. So I thought you know I’ll just kind of– I’m not really interested in this stuff and you know if I have to be traveling somewhere. I happen to see an interesting element fantastic collection of rocks and minerals. So I thought you know I’ll just kind of– I’m not really interested in this stuff And you know if I happen to be traveling somewhere and I happen to see an interesting element maybe I’ll pick it up. Then 30 years from now maybe I’ll have an element collection. And then I go on eBay and it’s like “Oh I could get that! I could get that! And there’s that and look he’s also got this thing.” And 6 months later I had pretty much a complete set. It’s not terribly well organized. This is a bottle of Radithor which I won’t touch because the cork is quite radioactive.

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