Periodic Table Fancy

Periodic Table of Cupcakes

Periodic Table of Cupcakes at CHF’s museum’s first anniversary. Photo by Rosanne Cook.

As I was strolling through the mall with my mother this weekend, I stopped short when we passed Foot Locker. Lo and behold, there was something resembling a periodic table in the display window! My mother, ever the chemistry teacher, exclaimed, “But they’re not real elements!” (Foot Locker’s Back to School ad campaign includes elements like J9 and K5.)

After my mom and I walked away from Foot Locker I began thinking about other unlikely places the periodic table or the elements of the table show up—even if they are not real. For instance, Dow’s the Human Element campaign with the fictional element Hu (Human). And posters abound with periodic tables of objects other than elements. Hanging in my mom’s kitchen is a periodic table of desserts. In college I had friends with periodic tables of beer, mixology, and some unmentionables. Just this morning, a coworker passed along the Periodic Table of Rock Music.

I’m not sure what it is about the periodic table that so many people seem to identify with, but it is important to us here at CHF—indeed, we even named this very blog after it. Tom wrote about the Periodic Table of Metaphors almost a year ago and next week we interview author Sam Kean, as Jen mentioned in her post last week.

So what does the periodic table mean to you? Is it purely a chemistry tool or do you identify with it in ways that others have chosen to in popular culture? Let us know!

Posted In: Education

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