Monday, 31 January 2011

Chemistry 1: The Periodic Table

Okay, I'm temporarily setting aside my first chemical rant to provide something a little more useful and objective: a neat way to remember the first twenty or so elements of the periodic table in order.  This mnemonic was given to me by my uncle (thanks Graham!) and I had to extend it in order to complete the first row of the transition elements, which came in useful from my A-levels onwards.

The mnemonic goes like this:

Ha, Here Lies Benjamin Bones; Cry Not Old Friend Needlessly, Nature Magnifies All Simple People, Sometimes Clowns Are Kings.  Callous Scoundrels Tickle Viciously; Crumbling Magnolias Fear Cold Nights, Cute Zones Gather Geraniums.

As you can see, it's a little uneven, but it works.  One important note:  the words are expansions of the chemical symbols for the elements, and are not always helpful in remembering the element names where the symbol and name aren't connected in English.  For example, "nature" is an expansion of Na, which is sodium; similarly, "kings" is the keyword for K, the symbol for potassium.

I'd suggest consulting a periodic table, like this one, to help remember where to put them all (and where the line breaks go :-)

The only other mnemonic for learning the periodic table in sequence that I've found while skimming the web is this one, which makes some sense but doesn't cover much territory:

Harry He Likes Beer But Can Not Obtain Food

Others seem far more complicated, more interested in electronic configurations (which are far too complicated and easier to just sit down and work out, then learn by sight).

So, long live Benjamin Bones... except he's died already!

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