COOL IMAGES: Unorthodox Elements

Science  26 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5410, pp. 1975
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5410.1975d

If this image brings you back to the psychedelic '60s, that's because it's meant to represent Berkelium (Bk), discovered at the University of California, Berkeley, 50 years ago. The design reflects the radioactive metal's “ephemeral nature” and “has echoes of Berkeley circa 1969,” when it was a hotbed of student radicalism, explains artist Murray Robinson. It's part of Visual Elements, a new online periodic table that presents the 109 elements “in as unique and innovative a manner as possible,” according to the site, created by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Nowhere to be found are lumps of grayish metals in a dish; instead, Robinson has come up with striking designs that often incorporate an element's history—for platinum, a piece of Mayan jewelry, for example. Also featured are “periodic landscapes,” mystical-looking panoramas based on how elemental properties shift across the table. Itching to download them all? Then send away (by e-mail, of course) for a periodic table wall chart.

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