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  • Periodically, I look at the periodic table and think - that’s not very well designed.

  • Like, look at this big tall column on the left, and then a big gap, and then more tall

  • columns on the right. And this island of elements down here, totally disconnected from the rest?

  • It doesn’t feel very natural - so let’s rearrange the table! Obviously we don’t

  • want to ignore physical reality, but the idea of the periodic table, roughly speaking, is

  • that atoms are listed horizontally according to increasing atomic number and grouped vertically

  • according to shared properties, so these breaks here on the left and right, where it goes

  • from element 10 on the right to 11 way on the left - those are artificial. We should

  • really be cutting the periodic table out and then taping the edges together, into a nice

  • loop. Kind of like how there isn’t actually a giant disconnect between Russia and Alaska,

  • even if maps make it seem like that.

  • Anyway, once you join the Russia and Alaska of the periodic table, it makes a different

  • location seem like the obvious place to cut if we really want a flat table - right here.

  • Then we get the left-step periodic table, where the columns are all nicely stair-stepping

  • down, though really it’s even nicer if helium moves up above beryllium and next to hydrogen

  • where it so obviously belongs. This way of organizing the table looks really nice and

  • makes a fair bit of sense from a physics perspective , even if it doesn’t have the nice properties

  • of normal periodic tables where electronegativity and first ionization energy increase from

  • left to right and bottom to top.

  • But really, the periodic table should be a loop. The problem is, we still have a gap

  • between elements 20 and 21, maybe we can loop them too? And what about 4 & 5? If we join

  • them, we have a nice spiral periodic table, with no gaps between any of the numbers! Though

  • it’s even nicer if helium moves over above neon where it so obviously belongs. This version

  • kind of looks like a tiered cake, and goes really well on top of pointy trees!

  • Except in this table, elements with similar properties aren’t grouped together vertically

  • anymore. So we could attach the ones that are supposed to be grouped vertically, which

  • forces us to make some folds, and now we get this spiral rosette-y periodic table, sometimes

  • calledMendeleev’s flower.” This really shows the structure of the table nicely, though

  • it’s not really a table any more, and it’s way too three dimensional for a lot of uses.

  • So let’s unspiral the spiral, and go back to basics - the one dimensional periodic table.

  • It’s actually pretty long - look at all those elements! And it’s a lot harder to

  • see the structure, though you can still see that certain properties repeat periodically

  • - hence, periodic table.

  • And if you match up those repeated patterns, and cut in all the right places, and do some

  • surgery , you arrive back at the familiar - if not super elegant - traditional periodic

  • table. Which table do you prefer?

  • This video was supported by Brilliant, which is also a brilliant holiday gift for anyone

  • who’s interested in math, science, puzzles, or cutting up periodic tables. Brilliant premium

  • gets you or whoever youre giving it to full access to all of brilliant’s courses,

  • quizzes, puzzles, & daily challenges, including this one which is about cutting up hexagons

  • into pieces and rearranging into other shapes with the same area. Or Brilliant’s course

  • on chemical reactions, whichll help you understand what you can and can’t make out

  • of all the elements on the periodic table, or why some reactions are so explosive. To

  • get good at science or math or just keep your mind sharp, there’s nothing better than

  • regular and fun problem solving, and brilliant has you & your loved ones covered. Go to brilliant.org/minutephysics

  • for a gift subscription to lifelong learning. Again, that’s brilliant.org/minutephysics,

  • and thanks to Brilliant for their support.

Periodically, I look at the periodic table and think - that’s not very well designed.

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B1 periodic periodic table table brilliant spiral vertically

Reimagining the Periodic Table

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/28
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