Tuesday, 29 November 2011

DECEMBER 13th [Science Comedy Advent Calendar]

December 13th: The Periodic Table

One phrase that keeps popping up a lot during Christmas is ‘making a list, checking it twice’. This suggests a few things, namely that Santa Clause has a LOT of time on his hands. Making a list of every eligible child on earth, that’s an arduous task, and possibly a never-ending one considering the birth rate of human society (let alone checking it twice). I would suggest that it’s unlikely that he could ever have it done within the space of single year, when you include the births, accidental deaths and children graduating from childhood to teenage/cynical phase that occur constantly throughout the year. It’s like painting that bridge.

But then again, if we’re starting to go through all the things that Santa claims to be able to achieve that aren’t logically possible, that is, ironically, a list that’s never going to end.

Speaking of ongoing, overly complex lists, science has one in the form of the periodic table. Never mind checking it twice, the periodic table has been ‘checked’ countless times, with adjustments being made whenever required. Much like Christmas gift lists, it was all much simpler in the old days. It was just a block of wood and an orange then (or Earth, wind, fire and water from an elemental perspective). But these days it’s all PS3 games and tamagotchis! And in terms of the periodic table, it’s noble gasses, transition metals and transuranium elements. Particularly with regards to the latter, it’s hard to check them twice when, being the products of nuclear reactions, they have a fraction of a second. But saying that, some have a half life of millions of years. So, you know, no rush.

But how could I summarise the complexity and detail of the periodic table in an understandable and entertaining way in just one blogpost?

I can’t. Simple as that. So instead, here’s the awesome science rapper Jon Chase to do it in the form of rap for you. Merry Christmas.

Twitter: @garwboy


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