Periodic Spiral

The image above shows a version of the periodic table of the elements, visualized by Jeff Moran. I ripped the image from a PDF offered up on his website, which also links to a piece of software that uses the above image as a basis for exploring the periodic table—lots of information is given on each element, although you have to shell out $50.00 to get the fully functional version.

Moran’s software ain’t new, but for some reason, the New York Times chose to highlight it in today’s Science Times, along with other ways of arranging the elements to highlight relationships that the typical rectangular arrangement misses. (The article also references Edgar Longman’s “Chemical Galaxy” image, for which I have great fondness.)

What I love about these re-imaginings of the familiar (well, familiar to some) is that they make one look at things differently. I can’t claim to have mcuh of an intuitive sense of the structure of the periodic table, but what I understand, I see more clearly in these newer versions. And I feel compelled to note that what I do understand of the periodic table, I gleaned from P.W. Atkins’s brilliant Periodic Kingdom, which describes the familiar, rectangular table as a landscape of different attributes—binding energies, specific heats, and other such measurable quantities.

So… Take the Times’s lead and take aother look at the periodic table!

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