There is a chart that maps the universe. All of it. Not just the bit we live in. All of it. There is a chart that maps the entire universe.
Do you want to see it?
You’re probably raising an eyebrow. That’s not a map of the universe, you’re probably saying – that’s the Periodic Table. You’re probably getting ready to fire off an angry comment, complaining that I’ve been misleading the youth of the internet. You probably aren’t nodding along, thinking that this particular blogger is a sublime genius and has the right idea. If you are doing that, you are probably a chemist. Hi, chemists. You probably know what I’m on about.
But back to (debatably) the most beautiful scientific visualisation that mankind has ever created (I know that if I’ve got any chemist readers, they are definitely agreeing with me right now). Most people probably think the Periodic Table is a nice-looking chart that is a convenient way of writing down all the chemical elements. If I were to ask you (non chemists only from here onwards) what you think a chemical element is, you might say it’s a type of atom with unique properties. If I were to ask you why each atom has those properties, you (non chemists) would probably be stumped. I’ll give you a clue.
Then again, that can be used as a legitimate answer for any question. So if someone were to ask me what the football score was last weekend, I could legitimately say:
and there could be nothing you could do to stop me. Because I am a blogger who lives (statistically) more than 5,500 kilometres from 28% of my audience. Statistics. And I am also from the internet and do not have a proper house.
This is Part 0 of my (probably) 6-part series on the Periodic Table of Elements – the introduction to the main thing. The Periodic Table is so much more than just a chart of letters and numbers. It is (excuse the rant) a sublimely beautiful piece of scientific explanation that is (perhaps) more useful than any other diagram in the history of mankind. Possible exception – the first writing. But other than language, this is probably the most useful diagram, and definitely the most useful chart, that our fragile little human minds have ever created.
You may have guessed this, but I quite like the Periodic Table.