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Periodic Table Table 202

Ed Pegg Jr writes "Theo Gray, a co-creator of Mathematica, was originally a chemist. Needing a conference table, he created a Periodic Table using a variety of woods." It seems Theo is missing some elements for the table, in case you have any spare europium (in a proper container, of course) lying about. This isn't Theo's first piece of furniture. It looks like he has left a few spots for new elements, and it is nicely modular, in the event an element is found not to exist.
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Periodic Table Table

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  • It would have been interesting for links to the history of the table. All it is is a table in the shape of a form of the periodic table.

    It's too square to be a real periodic table, so there's some fudging in it as well.

    • It's a bit more than that. There's a sample of each stable element stored it's relevant place on the table. Look at the pictures - there's a LOT of work in there!
  • This would be great for science class.
  • Is someone's kitchen or bathroom tiled in ceramic tiles each containing an element.

    I can see it now "I WILL WALK OVER YOU LEAD!"
    • Actually, the elements are UNDER the wooden tiles containing the names, symbol, etc.

      Lower on the page, there is a cup-like storage container ... and the wooden tile atop and askew of it.

      • Yeaheaheah seen that kid on the table? Where's the picture where he opens the plutonium box?

        And of course, some elements only have a half-life of a few microseconds, must be a PITA replacing them.

        "Damn, all that Actinium 219 is gone ... back to the Synchrotron again."

    • My buddy is a chemist, we've been talking about building a periodic table for years. The tile idea is also a good one though I'll have to suggest it to him.
  • Doc said... (Score:5, Funny)

    by grung0r ( 538079 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @02:56AM (#3482966)
    "I'm sure in 1985 Plutonium can be bought in every corner drug store, but in 1955, it's a little hard to come by."
  • Well (Score:3, Funny)

    by weird mehgny ( 549321 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @02:57AM (#3482967)
    For optimal effect you must use the right plancks or else your table may not work correctly with present theories regarding quantum mechanics.
  • Its a pity.... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by happyhippy ( 526970 )
    ...he doesnt describe how he plans to store the materials he already has for it.

    And wouldnt it be mostly simply blocks of glass with invisible gas inside?

  • I too... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mgblst ( 80109 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @02:59AM (#3482975) Homepage
    am constructing a Periodic Table, and i am just short of a few elemnets, Au and Ag, so if anybody has any spare, can they send them to me. Perferably in an appropriate conatiner, say a large truck.

    Here we can see Theo Gray [mathpuzzle.com] hard at work.
  • by happyhippy ( 526970 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @03:01AM (#3482977)
    ..... whose half life is measured in seconds. The heavy artifical ones.
    • There is a comment to the effect that he has samples of the elements it is safe to store; hence it's unlikely to contain Uranium etc (or are there non-radioactive isotopes of Uranium?). Given the volatility of Sodium and similar elements, they're unlikely to be there unless he has some secure containers for them.
      • There is depleted uranium, which iirc is used for tank armor as it's fucking hard as hell. Only downside is that it's also heavy as hell, thus why an M1A3 tank weighs something like 70 tons. Of course, I just could have watched too much anime and be totally wrong...
        • Depleted Uranium is used to get through tank armour; it's used as ammo in the A-10 Warthog's 30mm cannon.

          However, it's also fairly poisonous, and the subject of ongoing investigations after the Gulf War where it was used extensively. The problem seems to be that it disintigrates into powder on impact which is easily breathed in and causes problems. However, I'd imagine a solid lump encased properly would be fairly safe.

        • It's not necessarily used for its hardness but rather it's density and weight. For instance, an arrow shot from a compound bow at about 15ft per second can puncture a bullet proof vest but a bullet traveling at 1500ft/s cannot. The difference being that an arrow puts about 2000 grains (a weight measurement) in a spot the diameter of a .22 caliber bullet, whereas a typical bullet (about the same size) is anywehere from 50 to 200 grain. A few gun smith friends of mine explained to me how you can puncture an inch of tank armor (fucking amazing) from a (granted almost point blank) 100yards with a .50 cal depleted uranium round fired from a BMG (.50 cal sniper rifle), granted you'd have to use high velocity powder.
          • "an arrow shot from a compound bow at about 15ft per second can puncture a bullet proof vest"

            The youngsters here might appreciate being reminded that it was the English longbow which caused the death of the knight in shining armor. This large bow was easily able to penetrate armor, so a column of armored fighters on horseback became a large target rather than the medieval equivalent of a tank.

            ("on horseback" used instead of "cavalry" because the latter is based on a philosophy of quick mobility, and an armored horse can only briefly be quick or mobile)

      • Honestly, uranium, like any other element with a half-life in the billions of years really isn't all that dangerous, except in large quantities. He could put a small sample in, especially if he wrapped it with lead.

        Interestingly enough, when I ran Uranium through dict [dict.org], it came up with an entry from the 1913 Webster's dictionary discussing how a yellow oxide was used to tint glass (with the fluorescence an added bonus), and a black oxide used for porcelain. While that wasn't such a great idea, it shows how uranium isn't an instant kill; there are probably people still alive who used glass or porcelain with uranium in it.
        • Have a poke around in a country-side antiques place in the North American mid-west or somewhere similarly, um, oblivious to such concerns.

          It's usually called "Depression Glass" since a lot of it was made in the 1930's.

          I had a piece for the longest time and it really is a pretty yellow colour. Not particularly radioactive either...
        • Even better, it says "see Uranus"! Folk were queer back in the 20th...
        • Uranium itself is not so bad. The only issue is that it is extremely (chemically) reactive. It can be difficult to get it in the form that you want. The real problem with uranium is the daughter products. There is some amount of uranium compounds in rocks and such. However, one of the daughter products, radon, is a problem. WHen it decays it can be inside your body because it is a gas, and its decay is associated with a more dangerous form of particle.

          So if you use uranium for your table make sure you ventialte the room!

        • Honestly, uranium, like any other element with a half-life in the billions of years really isn't all that dangerous, except in large quantities.
          Actually, natural and/or depleted uranium is only dangerous in very small quantities, which is to say: dust. In the solid form uranium is very hard and tough, and it makes a good alloy for situations where a dense, hard, tough material is needed.

          In fact, uranium used to be used as an alloy in ceramic tooth fillings to add the slight yellow tinge of real enamel. Properly alloyed it is no danger to the owner of the tooth.

          Uranium dust, however, besides being highly flammable, is toxic (like all heavy metals).


      • ...so it can't be that bad.

        This guy's family lived in South Australia, where a fair chunk of Australia's uranium exports come from. His father worked for one of the mines. My friend was a chemistry nerd, and he made up his mind one day to turn some uranium-bearing ore into yellowcake (uranium oxide, a stage in the purification process). Purely out of scientific curiousity. It's about twice as radioactive as depleted uranium, so I wouldn't walk around with it in my pants pocket, but it's not going to kill you in a hurry. 20 years on, it didn't seem to harm my friend that much. The wooden lid to the container on the 'table' would stop any alphas, and most of the betas. I wouldn't worry about it.

        Sodium, flourine, or even phosphorus, on the other hand...

      • "Given the volatility of Sodium and similar elements, they're unlikely to be there unless he has some secure containers for them."

        I worked for a guy that used to keep sticks of metallic sodium in a 5 gallon bucket filled with kerosene. Whenever the grounhogs on his property started getting uppity, he'd pull out a couple of sticks, stuff them down the hole, and stand 20' away and hit it with the garden hose. After a satisfying explosion (and resultant crater), the grounhogs laid low for a while.
      • Good point. I bet most people don't realize that sodium is so volatile. The shocking lack of sodium taught at schools today is shocking.
    • ..... whose half life is measured in seconds. The heavy artifical ones.

      After reading the original article I looked up the periodical table [webelements.com]. I decided to find out which element officially has the highest Atomic Number. Ununbium [webelements.com] has an atomic number of 112, but more intrestingly has a half-life of 240 microseconds.

      Picture him removing the lid to show a friend (both in Radiation suits) - "It was here a second ago" :-)
  • by QuantumFTL ( 197300 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @03:02AM (#3482979)
    Needing a conference table, he created a Periodic Table

    Then wood this be a meta-table?

    • "Upgrade your spiritual bandwidth: pray!"


  • I can see it now...

    "Alright!! Who left their glass on Niobium without a coaster?!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @03:02AM (#3482981)
    No, not those elements.

    I hope he has a humidity /temperature controled place to store this thing. Pieces that combine dissimaler woods don't tend to last very long due to diffrent rates of expansion/contraction when they are exposed to temperature and humidity changes. They tend to break along the seems.

    That's why you never securely bolt down butcher-block. You just drill an oversized hole and let it float on the stand.
    • It should hold up pretty good. He put several coats of polyurathane on in order to protect it from his otherwise normally calm child.
    • The table itself is one large piece. The different types of wood are in the labeled tiles, which are not glued to the top. The tiles have plenty of room to expand and are free to do so.
    • It looks like the structure of the table is made only from one wood. The different woods are only the caps for the compartments.
    • That seriously depends on the construction techniques. An understanding of the way wood moves according to humidity and temperature changes can greatly aid a woodworker in engineering a piece of furniture that will last, regardless of the materials used. In this case, it appears that most of the various different type wood pieces used in his table are free to move around much like little cabinet doors that contain a gap to allow for wood movement. The one thing that concerns me about the design is the checkerboard pattern of drilled-out blocks that he uses for the tabletop. Because the pieces are so large, I'm not sure if the opposing shear forces wouldn't eventually force the blocks to separate.

      This guy seems to have a set of tools that most professional woodworkers would love to have, including that nice little Wood-Mizer sawmill and an enormous shop. But the thing that makes me wonder about how accomplished a woodworker he is comes when you take notice of the time-stamps on the pictures. On 11-18-2000, there is a picture of him milling a log, presumably the one that he is going to use for the table. Then *two* days later, he is cutting and laying out pieces for the project! As most woodworkers know, this is a serious no-no, as freshly milled wood often needs many months of curing time. Even kiln-dried wood (which some regard as inferior), needs at least a week or so to adjust to the humidity conditions of a shop before you start working with it.

      • by TheodoreGray ( 578458 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @12:19PM (#3485056) Homepage
        I'm not sure which time stamps you're looking at, but actually the log was cut over a year before being worked, and it was dried at least semi-properly. Also, that log was maple used only for the noble gas element tiles, not for the body of the table. The body of the table is walnut that was sawn in 1993 and actually kiln dried twice at the yard before I got it at auction. (Oh and by the way, the Wood-Mizer isn't mine, but I wish it were....)
  • I dont think he will ever get any elemental Francium. If i remember back to high school it is EXTREEEEEEEEEEMELY rare because it oxidises (i think thats chemisteese for burns) in sunlight.
    all geeks are made of Francium...we burn in sunlight.
    So...whos gunna send him a finger?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @03:18AM (#3483021)
    If you put your plate on highly radioactive elements, your food will stay warm.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @03:22AM (#3483030)
    As a chemist, I've always prided myself as having the most unusual periodic table - I wear only boxer shorts that have the periodic table printed all over them (my collegues no longer ask me for reference information due to my undressing to look up values too many times...). This table though does me one better - bravo! I shall now have to find an even geekier chic periodic table - the guantlet has been thrown, I accept the challenge!
  • It's a great way to get kids to learn about science, but is anyone else thinking "E-Z Bake Meth Lab"?
  • It would have been really cool to have the Lanthanides and Actinides come out as part of a "drop leaf" thing. Hell, I don't know what you call it... like the TV tray thing for lazy people attached by articulated arms to the underside on some tables. You could have these sets of elements on such an arm so that you could move them up and out.

    You could also have them make a bi-level sort of table. Just take the two rows and attach them on little dowels to the top of the table at a 45 degree angle so they come up and out. You could set plants on that part maybe. Put some glowing Thinkgeek light strips (or flourescent lights) in the little cubbies, pretend there are rare earths in there, and scare the neighborhood kids. Be a real safe place to hide your stash I bet. Every neighborhood has the haunted house/spooky old man thing. This guy has the glowing radioactive table. "Trick or Treat? Reach in there for your candy Billy..."

    'Course the table is incredibly cool without my Monday morning engineering. Well done.


  • by Captain Nitpick ( 16515 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @03:31AM (#3483054)

    I tried making a mandelbrot set [olympus.net] table once.

    I gave up because it seemed like there was always an endless amount of detail work left to do.

  • Here's the Periodic Periodic Table

    This week's installment:

    • Name: hydrogen
    • Symbol: H
    • Atomic number: 1
    • Atomic weight: 1.00794 (7) g m r

    stay tuned next week for: Helium

  • When do these appear on ThinkGeek?
  • I do not care (Score:2, Insightful)

    by abolith ( 204863 )
    what anyone else says, but to make a FUCKING BADASS table like those two takes a woodworking skill on a high level. something most of us will never get. I would love to be able to make something like that, but I am limited to case mods and such things.

    • Making tables is not especially difficult, although I wouldn't fancy the job of carving or engraving the element details on each of those tiles. The furthest I've taken things is a coffee table with a Penrose tiling mosaic top. Cutting a few hundred tiles to an accuracy of better than 1 degree at each vertex took weeks.
      If you have the confidence and dexterity to modify cases without slashing your wrists open on torn aluminium there is no reason why you shouldn't give basic joinery a try.
  • He was a chemist! - no wonder Mathematica was the only piece of software that I still couldn't figure out how to operate after 10 minutes of tinkering with it. (hey, in my book, if it fails the 10 minute test, it's in dire need of a UI rewrite). ./cwide
  • by lxs ( 131946 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @04:06AM (#3483124)
    ...gets the "uranium seat" (it's just a name son, don't worry about it)
  • It seems Theo is missing some elements for the table, in case you have any spare europium (in a proper container, of course) lying about.

    Oh, I'm sorry, I seemed to have left my container in Europe.

    • "Hey! Why's that Germanium in that Francium box again?"
    • Oh, I'm sorry, I seemed to have left my container in Europe.

      Dude, that isn't a pun. Europium is named after Europe.

      A pun would be, e.g., "Sorry, Europium was already smoked by the Slashdot moderators."

  • by Emil Brink ( 69213 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @04:27AM (#3483163) Homepage
    when some other esteemed editor reposts this, it'll be the Periodic Periodic Table Table story, and I will be even happier. ;^)
  • That there is one swank piece of craftsmanship. I'll be sending some spare Strontium pronto :O) It is truly gratifying to see so much love lathered on a table.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @04:37AM (#3483188)
    From a recent posting on memepool by urog [memepool.com]. I don't think I could have said it any better myself.

    By adulthood, Mendeleev's [chem.msu.su] periodic table of the elements [webelements.com] is firmly planted in a typical mind either as a tool for study or proof of mystical forces at work in nature. There are alternative structures [maricopa.edu]: some clever [periodictable.com] and others using alternate media [clarkson.edu], extensions to the table providing nuclear structure [heliconstruct.com], fermi surfaces [ufl.edu], and line spectra [uoregon.edu].

    Still others are extraordinarily cross-thematic, merging chemistry with comic books [uky.edu], poetry [superdeluxe.com] or haiku [iscifistory.com]. But only the grouping-nature of the columns is retained in rejected elements [theatlantic.com], condiments [mit.edu] and beer [beercharts.com]. Eventually the elements and the periodic qualities have been lost entirely, reducing the periodic table to a design template for topical lists of funk [toshistation.com] and rock [clara.net] music, comedy [rcn.com] and TV shows [ultranet.com], famous mathematicians [stetson.edu] and presidents [wap.org], even SGI products [jrti.com]. Soon a complete breakdown [theofficia...ebsite.com] of the scientific aspect yields no similarity to the original, becoming a glorified table [callan.com], a marketing tool [scifi.com], or hype itself [mercermc.com]. There is mounting evidence [k12.in.us] of a conspiracy.

  • Are there any occasional elements out there?

    I'd like an occasional table...
  • I really don't like my periodic table, but I can't afford one that's around all the time, so periodic will have to do.
  • Image map (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    A huge bunch of kudos to the first person to imagemap that perodic table table to link to the actual element.
  • When did Slashdot turn into a woodwork site? Or maybe this was just a step in your way to minimize global losses resulting from Slashdot effects?

    I know, my karma is soon below zero, but Hello!
  • Hmmm. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @06:32AM (#3483360)
    "Hey, nice table!"
    "Thanks, it took me several w... OH JESUS CHRIST NO, DON'T OPEN THAT!"

    (screaming and choking as they both inhale florine gas)

    (dying breath): "Just...wanted...to...be...thorough.."

  • In my opinion, this would be way cooler if instead of having compartments for each element that you could only access by removing the wooden lid, you had the elements stored in some transparent way, so it really did look like a table of the elements.

    The carvings are cool though, perhaps for the transparent version could have small metal plaques underneath each one or something?

  • A while back I was looking around for a kilo of Tungsten for a paperweight/curiosity as it seems to be the densest stuff you can get that's neither radioactive nor hyper-expensive. It's 19.25g/cc which is a lot considering lead is 11.34g/cc. A 1 kg block is going to be about 3x4x4 cm. It seems to worth about US$200 a kg.

    Anybody got any ideas where to get some from?

    • A while back I was looking around for a kilo of Tungsten for a paperweight/curiosity
      As long as you don't mind being on FBI/Interpol watch lists for the rest of your life, since metallic tungsten is used in the construction of 2-stage nuclear devices.


  • Tom Lehrer (Score:4, Funny)

    by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @07:20AM (#3483444) Homepage
    "Now, if I may digress momentarily from the mainstream of this evening's symposium, I'd like to sing a song which is completely pointless, but is something which I picked up during my career as a scientist. This may prove useful to some of you some day, perhaps, in a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances. It's simply the names of the chemical elements set to a possibly recognizable tune. "

    The elements [maricopa.edu]
  • ...in the event an element is found not to exist

    The periodic table is build in such a way that no "non-existing" will be missed. The table is like a matrix mapping the content of the atom core. (Protons and neutrons). And the matrix would have holes if elements were missing.

    When the table was first constructed, the discovery of several elements was actually missing, as appeared as holes in the table. The chemist was hunting for these atoms, and all the holes have been found today - proving the concept of the table.

    Very heavy atoms may be very unstable and appear in the end of the table. To this "list" new atoms may be added, when they are "found" (constructed is a better word). But these atoms are so unstable due to their size that they will never be found in nature and can defiantly not be placed physically in the table, as they can only exist in microseconds.
  • The triangle table kicks ass also! I sooo wish I could spend my whole life working on projects like this. Not tables, per se, but any little fanciful project I dream up. For instance, a lego statue of Seven of Nine.... oh god, its true what the bullies said. I AM a loser. I actually think a periodic table table is clever and cool!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    > It seems Theo is missing some elements for the table, in case you have any spare europium (in a proper container, of course) lying about.

    If he doesn't find europium can't he just take someone elses?
  • ...can you hum it to Gilbert and Sullivan [letssingit.com]?
  • This reminds me of Cosmo Kramer's coffee table book about coffee tables that folds out to become a coffee table.
  • The left side of the table is nice and stable, but the right side keeps wanting to explode. Maybe he should combine some of the elements on the right side to stabilize it.
  • All I can say is that Theodore Gray is a genius. A career in chemistry, inventing Mathematica, and now building this Periodic Table...all while still a toddler! I predict big things for this little guy once he hits puberty.
  • I think if it were me, I would have filled in the huge gaps at the top with blank squares to make it have a nice shape so that it could be used in a dining room or something.. all that work for an oddly shaped table makes it hard to show off well.
  • Theo is missing some elements for the table, in case you have any spare europium (in a proper container, of course) lying about.

    You can get Europium Oxide [sigmaaldrich.com] from Sigma-Aldrich Chemicals. About $162 for 10g. It's an oxide of the element, but it's stable.

  • Anyone remember the episode of Cosmos (ca. 1981) when Carl Sagan examines a table exactly like this, except with a small, corked bottles containing each element? It was about 3x3 feet, but it was missing samples of the radioactive stuff. That inspired me to study the periodic table at age 10.

  • it was posted on Home/Depot a month ago...

    (psst I hear he's baking the Lanathanum... La!)

  • I didn't see Eludium Phosdex (the shaving cream atom) in his table!