Chemistry news, articles, and more

Periodic Table Wordle

Popularity WordlePopularity Wordle
This picture is a wordle. This shows the chemical elements in proportion to pages viewed for each on the WebElements periodic table web site. Hydrogen is the most viewed element. The question is, I suppose, is whether any useful information is conveyed? You can see this wordle and others at

WebElements new version

I have restructured WebElements. The restructuring is all style at the front-end and reorganisation at the back-end, meaning all the errors in data are still there but they are displayed more beautifully and efficiently. Fixing some of those errors is now a priority.

All this should allow me to update content far more easily than has been the case, meaning things should move quicker. The database is now far simpler and hopefully the addresses like far more helpful. I would say the new site is now "beta" meaning it is largely functional but expect glitches for a little while. I have not updated the "scholar" version but will do so if there seems to be a demand. Following this restructuring there are a number of features I am now in a position to implement and this will happen over the next few weeks/months.

Quite significant numbers of you are using the site via iPhones so I am tempted to produce a version for that sort of screen size

Please do let me know by adding comments here if there are features you would like to see.

Element 122?

Hard to know what to make of this as it is not my field. But here is a claim for element 122, or maybe 124, detection in thorium by a mass spectrometric method. The authors have claimed previously the observation of very heavy isotopes, for instance Rg isotopes in the mass spectra of natural gold.

Abstract: "Evidence for the existence of a superheavy nucleus with atomic mass number A=292 and abundance (1-10) x 10-12 relative to 232Th has been found in a study of natural Th using inductively coupled plasma-sector field mass spectrometry. The measured mass matches the predictions for the mass of an isotope with atomic number Z=122 or a nearby element. Its estimated half-life of t1/2 <= 108 y suggests that a long-lived isomeric
state exists in this isotope. The possibility that it might belong to a new class of long-lived high spin super- and hyperdeformed isomeric states is discussed."

Full reference: A. Marinov, I. Rodushkin, D. Kolb, A. Pape, Y. Kashiv, R. Brandt, R.V. Gentry, and H.W. Miller, "Evidence for a long-lived superheavy nucleus with atomic mass number A=292 and atomic number Z=~122 in natural Th", Submitted 24 April 2008.

Nobel Prize 2007 for chemistry

Modern surface chemistry – fuel cells, artificial fertilizers and clean exhaust

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2007 to Gerhard Ertl of the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany "for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces".

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2007 is awarded for groundbreaking studies in surface chemistry. This science is important for the chemical industry and can help us to understand such varied processes as why iron rusts, how fuel cells function and how the catalysts in our cars work. Chemical reactions on catalytic surfaces play a vital role in many industrial operations, such as the production of artificial fertilizers. Surface chemistry can even explain the destruction of the ozone layer, as vital steps in the reaction actually take place on the surfaces of small crystals of ice in the stratosphere. The semiconductor industry is yet another area that depends on knowledge of surface chemistry.

It was thanks to processes developed in the semiconductor industry that the modern science of surface chemistry began to emerge in the 1960s. Gerhard Ertl was one of the first to see the potential of these new techniques. Step by step he has created a methodology for surface chemistry by demonstrating how different experimental procedures can be used to provide a complete picture of a surface reaction. This science requires advanced high-vacuum experimental equipment as the aim is to observe how individual layers of atoms and molecules behave on the extremely pure surface of a metal, for instance. It must therefore be possible to determine exactly which element is admitted to the system. Contamination could jeopardize all the measurements. Acquiring a complete picture of the reaction requires great precision and a combination of many different experimental techniques.

Gerhard Ertl has founded an experimental school of thought by showing how reliable results can be attained in this difficult area of research. His insights have provided the scientific basis of modern surface chemistry: his method-ology is used in both academic research and the indust-rial development of chemical processes. The approach developed by Ertl is based not least on his studies of the Haber-Bosch process, in which nitrogen is extracted from the air for inclusion in artificial fertilizers. This reaction, which functions using an iron surface as its catalyst, has enormous economic significance because the availability of nitrogen for growing plants is often restricted. Ertl has also studied the oxidation of carbon monoxide on platinum, a reaction that takes place in the catalyst of cars to clean exhaust emissions.

2007 Ig Nobel Chemistry prize announced

The 2007 Ig Nobel Chemistry prize winner was Mayu Yamamoto (International Medical Centre of Japan) for developing a way to extract vanillin (vanilla fragrance and flavour) from cow dung. The 2007 Ig Nobel Prize winners were announced 5th October 2007 and prizes prizes awarded at Harvard in America. To celebrate, a local ice cream bar put on a tasting session of a new flavour, Yum-A-Moto Vanilla Twist, concocted in honour of the 2007 Ig Nobel Chemistry Prize winner Mayu Yamamoto. The mind boggles.

The 2006 Ig Nobel Chemistry prize winner was Antonio Mulet, José Javier Benedito and José Bon of the University of Valencia, Spain, and Carmen Rosselló of the University of Illes Balears, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, for their study "Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature".

Periodic Table Quilt

Periodic Table QuiltPeriodic Table Quilt
Quite by chance I noticed that at Simon Fraser University in Canada members of staff in the Department got together to make a periodic table quilt. Looks to be about 6 feet across. I wonder if it will be updated for the latest elements?

If you go to the SFU site, click on any element to see that panel in more detail. Anyone else made a quilt like this?

FaceBook fame at last... I see the WebElements A6 size periodic table card (laminated, naturally) is the logo for the FaceBook Group "The united nerd front" - A place for nerds to unite. (if you have a mini-periodic table you get gold card membership).

Printable Periodic Table updated

The printable periodic tables held on this site at have been updated 21 September 2007 to reflect the latest (2007) IUPAC values that will appear shortly in Pure & Appl. Chem. They are pdf files so pretty well anyone should be able to print them.

Periodic Table tattoo

Periodic Table tattooPeriodic Table tattoo
I'm interested in the periodic table - but not enough to get a periodic table tattoo! And here is one courtesy of o2b and writer Carl Zimmer. He has a collection of science tattoos for you to browse.

Element 112 ununbium similar to mercury

Working with element 112 is not easy - it does not occur in the wild and only a few atoms at a time can be made. In this new paper a large group of Swiss, Russian, and Polish authors report:

"a more reliable chemical characterization of element 112, involving the production of two atoms of 283112 through the alpha decay of the short-lived 287114 (which itself forms in the nuclear fusion reaction of 48Ca with 242Pu) and the adsorption of the two atoms on a gold surface. By directly comparing the adsorption characteristics of 283112 to that of mercury and the noble gas radon, we find that element 112 is very volatile and, unlike radon, reveals a metallic interaction with the gold surface. These adsorption characteristics establish element 112 as a typical element of group 12, and its successful production unambiguously establishes the approach to the island of stability of superheavy elements through 48Ca-induced nuclear fusion reactions with actinides."1

WebElements: the periodic table on the WWW []

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