3 Cheers for Mendele'ev

Discussion in 'Chemistry' started by exchemist, Jan 13, 2019.

  1. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    150 yrs since the Periodic Table was invented, apparently: https://www.theguardian.com/comment...eriodic-table-better-living-through-chemistry

    Very perceptive article, I thought, identifying the key feature of chemistry as its messy complexity, compared to the idealised simplicity of physics, and the intangibility of its concepts compared to biology. The identification of the chemical elements was a very difficult process and occurred long after the key principles of physics were well established.
     
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    A retiring British banking official, international mining company director, international policy advisor, and media figure,

    a top guy in the economic workings of the planet for decades,

    marvels at this amazing thing he just found out about - his recent, last year's, discovery - the Periodic Table of the Elements:
    https://www.ft.com/content/d765bf0e-0212-11e9-bf0f-53b8511afd73
    To bring it home: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Pennant-Rea
    This guy was and is a major and influential figure in international banking, mining, agriculture, economic policy, and related media (such as editor of the "Economist").
     
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  5. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    ...thus providing evidence of the narrowness of the English education system in that era.

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    One of the legacies of the class system seems have been a rather c.19th view that anything involving practical work - with your hands - was beneath a real gentleman. Science was never really accorded equality of esteem with the Humanities. At best it was seen as a sort of hobby. (The preparatory school I went to in the 1960s - up to the age of 13 - did not even have science on the curriculum at all! That is one reason I chose the physical science path as soon as I could - I used to love the science lessons at my main school.) This is in contrast with France, where Napoleon's system of Grandes Ecoles, focused mainly on science and engineering, has led to a society in which Dipl. Ing. is highly prestigious and opens the door to the best jobs.

    But, to do Pennant-Rea justice, he is not afraid to write about his former ignorance and he is clearly open-minded and intelligent enough to see what he has been missing, all his life.
     
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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    It is an amazing way to organize the elements and the elements are amazing just because everything is made from them ultimately. Just knowing the table gives you a clue as to what a particular element might be used for given the uses and properties of the elements around it in the table.
     
  8. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    When were the man made elements added?
     
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    As they were discovered, one by one.

    The Periodic Table haas more elements in it now then when I was at school in the early 1970s.
     
  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I think Technetium was the first man made element added or at least it is the first occurring in the table. Plutonium at number 92 is the last of the naturally occurring elements, as I recall. Now there are either 118 or 120 elements (just going from memory).
     
  11. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I was talking about this a couple of days ago with my 15yr old son, who confesses that he finds chemistry the least intuitive and memorable of the 3 sciences he has to study for his forthcoming GCSE exam, before he specialises in the 6th form. We agreed the problem is that unlike both physics and biology in which you deal mostly with tangible objects, with chemistry it is shapeless "substances".

    Anyway, it then dawned on me in the course of our conversation that I approach to almost any issue in chemistry by first referring to my mental picture of the Periodic Table. He of course does not (yet) have that picture in his mind, whereas I gave myself a test a year or so ago and found I could fill in most of the table from memory, apart from the f-block (lanthanides and actinides). He joked about potassium in bananas saying maybe if you dropped one into water it would fizz and catch fire. So I said OK now tell me why that does NOT happen and we went through it: First potassium is present not as an element but as a compound - what sort of compound would that be? Don't know? Then think, which group of the periodic table is potassium in? OK so yes it will form ions. So anions or cations? Yes it will lose electrons, how many? etc.
     
  12. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Here is a fun quiz. It's more fun if you turn the timer off. I can name all the elements just from playing around with this quiz.

    https://www.jetpunk.com/quizzes/name-the-elements

    I never had to take a lot of chemistry and most of what I know is what I've learned since college just out of personal interest.

    I think about the table (probably just because I've learned it so well with this quiz) when I read about any element and the uses for that element. I know the most reactive parts of the table and why compounds using those reactive elements aren't reactive. I'm thinking about Teflon, which as I recall is made with fluorine and carbon polymers?. The logic being fluorine is so reactive that once it combines with something it's going to be very stable because there is nothing more reactive than fluorine to react with it (correct me if I'm not being technically accurate here).

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    I'll read about something like maybe a very specific application for praseodymium and then it will talk about its magnetic properties and I'll be reminded that it is next to neodymium and the article will make more sense (I made this last example up by the way).

    The same thing applies when reading about space age applications (strong but light weight that can handle high temperatures) that are very expensive and only applicable in those applications
    and maybe they are talking about vanadium when is next to titanium or zirconium which is below titanium.
     
  13. Beaconator Registered Senior Member

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    Potassium gives one electron to carbon and makes bana float by turning into a "gas".... Mmm that sounds good.

    Mrs Thompson. And Baker. Chemistry is great to know but mostly people who don't teach it just make drugs.... Just about everything else is known how to be done and you just sit there and make sure people don't up... Pardon my French.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2019
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    .....or take part in running major industries.......
     
  15. Beaconator Registered Senior Member

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    I might need to circumvent some things
     
  16. mmatt9876 Registered Senior Member

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    How do scientists engineer artificial elements? Do they smash atoms together in a collider?
     
  17. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, although I don't know that they are considered "artificial". They are real enough. Most are short lived and not naturally occurring but even that isn't really accurate. Some can be naturally occurring in such small quantities and with such short lives that we would never find them naturally.
     
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  18. mmatt9876 Registered Senior Member

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    Maybe artificial was the wrong word. Maybe rare in nature or non-occurring in nature are better terms for classifying the availability of some elements, such as Technetium, in nature that I believe we have only found or observed after creating them in the lab.
     

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