SITE VISIT: Actinium to Zinc

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Science  19 Jun 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5371, pp. 1807
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5371.1807a

Back in the Web's infancy—5 years ago, that is—University of Sheffield, U.K., chemist Mark Winter decided to teach himself HTML on his Mac by creating a Web site consisting of a simple, one-page periodic table. That site has since grown into innumerable pages that make up Winter's WebElements (, perhaps the best known periodic table on the Web.

If only Mendeleev were alive today: Here you may find all you could ever want to know about the elements, from featherweight hydrogen to exotic ununbium, the temporary name for the table's latest addition, element 112. Click on an element and you'll get the basics: what compounds it forms, melting point, spectra, radioisotopes, radii, lattice energies, and so on. But there's also much more, including each substance's history and where in the universe you can find it. Sprinkled throughout are interesting factoids: For example, sulfur gives Jupiter's moon Io its yellowish colors (from sulfur dioxide) and the sea squirt its digestive prowess (from sulfuric acid). Among other cyberfeatures, three-dimensional images of atoms arranged in crystal structures bulge from the computer screen. Also bringing life to many a dull element are clever cartoons.

WebElements links to Winter's ChemDex, a directory of over 3500 chemistry sites. “I shudder to think how much time has gone into it,” Winter says. His users, however, can only be grateful.

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