Interesting Chemistry Anecdotes (Post No.5369)



Date: 27 August 2018


Time uploaded in London – 16-11 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5369


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog.


From very young age I was very much interested in the Periodic Table. At one time I memorised all the elements in the periodic table. Then I bought The Russian series of Physics for Entertainment, Mathematics for Entertainment, Chemistry, astronomy boos in the same series. Now I started reading another book which I bought ten years ago. Still I am toying with my pet theory or hypothesis that there is a periodic table for all subjects. God has created the world in a mathematical order which we see in the phyllotaxy of the plants and Fibonacci numbers.

Let me give you some interesting anecdotes from ‘Nature’s Building Blocks’ by John Emsley OUP, 2001


Berkelium Jokes
The discovery of berkelium caught the attention of The New Yorker magazine which saw it as part of a growing number of new elements and jokingly suggested the University of California at Berkeley had missed a golden opportunity to immortalize itself for ever on the Periodic table. The article said that they should have named the sequence of trans -uranium elements ‘universitium’, ‘ofium ‘, ‘californium ‘ and ‘berkelium ‘.
Seaborg replied to the article, saying that they had thought this but this would open door to someone in New York discovering the next two elements naming them ‘newium, and ‘yorkium’. The New Yorker retorted that they were already hard at work on the new elements, but so far all they had was their names.


Aluminium Mysteries
Analysis of a curious metal ornament removed from the tomb of Chou Chu, a military leader in the third century China, showed that it was 85% aluminium. How it was produced remains a mystery.
As long ago as the first century CE, the Roman army doctor Dioscorides wrote a medical text De Materia Medica , in which he recommended alum for stopping bleeding and for various skin conditions such as eczema, ulcers, dandruff etc (ALUM= aluminium compound)

Gems and aluminium
Several gem stones are made of the clear crystal form of aluminium oxide known as corundum. The presence of traces of other metals creates various colours:-
Iron producers yellow Topaz
Cobalt create blue Sapphires
Chromium makes red Rubies
All these are now easy and cheap to manufacture artificially.


Emeralds of India
Emeralds have been traded since the time of ancient Egyptians and are to be found in early jewellery across Europe, including that of the Celts. The Romans and Celts got their emeralds mainly from Austria, although some came from Pakistan.

More surprising is the discovery that the Mogul rulers of India got some of their emeralds from South America. Analysis of gems from the treasure of the eighteenth century Nizam of Hyderabad showed they were of Colombian Origin; this has been interpreted to mean that there was trade across the Pacific Ocean by Spanish vessels which carried emeralds to their colonies in the Philippines, from where they eventually reached India.



Poem about Periodic Table
There is antimony, arsenic, aluminium ,selenium ,
And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium,
And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium
And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium ,
Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium,
And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium ,
And gold and protactinium and indium and gallium,
And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium,
There’s yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium,
And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium,
And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium,
And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium ,barium,
There is holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium,
And phosphorus and francium and fluorine and terbium
And manganese and mercury, molybdenum, magnesium,
Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and caesium,
And lead, praseodymium, and platinum and plutonium ,
Palladium, promethium, potassium, polonium
And tantalum and technetium, titanium, tellurium,
And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium,
There’s sulphur, californium and fermium, berkelium,
And also mendelevium, einsteinium and nobelium,
And argon, krypton, neon , radon, xenon, zinc and rhodium,
And chlorine, cobalt, carbon ,copper, tungsten, tin and sodium
These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard
And there may be many others, but they haven’t been discavard.
Tom Lehrer wrote this amusing poem in the 1950s. He entertained a whole generation of chemists when he sang his poem to the tune of the song ‘I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General from Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta ‘The Pirates of Penzance’.


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