COOL IMAGES: Chemical Comic Relief

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Science  12 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5404, pp. 899
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5404.899a

“You forget that cobalt is added to iron to make cobalt steels, among the hardest alloys known!” declaims the evil character Cobalt, in a 1968 Metal Man comic book, after flattening our hero Iron. The page appears in The Comic Book Periodic Table, created by chemistry profs—and childhood comics fans— John Selegue and Jim Holler of the University of Kentucky, Lexington. (see, superhero Metamorpho, using cobalt's strength to smite an enemy.) They've posted nearly 200 comic pages in which chemistry figures in the action, including Superman's birth on the planet Krypton (first told in June 1938); Donald Duck concocting Duckmite, a nitrogen explosive, in a 1944 story; and the 1990s series Chromium Man. Although everybody from 6th graders to Ph.D.s to comic buffs visits the site, Selegue says it's meant to have an “educational edge”—each comic panel is linked to WebElements (Science, 19 June 1998, p. 1807), a more serious periodic table.

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