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Periodic Table

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August 11, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 32

 

Letters to the editor

Mental health

Thank you for 63 years of C&EN and for the column Office Hours in the July 8 issue by Jen Heemstra (page 23).

As I read her article, I reflected on my own experiences and concluded that she is absolutely correct with respect to the importance of creating a mental health environment in graduate schools. In my 5 years of graduate school I was three doors from a student and four doors away from a graduate professor who struggled with problems and committed suicide while I was in my lab. The competitive nature of the atmosphere of that department was not conducive to good mental health. I saw the same problem in several chemistry departments.

I am grateful to C&EN for including her columns, as the problem of mental health is much greater than in graduate schools. Here in Alaska we have some of the highest rates of mental health problems, as evidenced by our high rates of suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic abuse, etc. In my 10 years as a science teacher in Kenai and Soldotna High Schools, I witnessed mental health problems with students that I was totally unprepared to handle. All I could do was observe and suffer with the students. Jen has answers to those questions, and I encourage C&EN to promote her work. America and the world need more activists like her.

Hugh R. Hays
Soldotna, Alaska

 

3-D periodic table

09732-reactions-3dcxd.jpg
Credit: Courtesy of Kelly Kitamura

Since this is the International Year of the Periodic Table and C&EN has been publishing articles featuring various aspects of different periodic tables, I thought it appropriate to draw the attention of your readers to a 3-D, rocket ship–like periodic table. Recently, while visiting the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, I was surprised to discover a 3-D periodic table on display (shown). This periodic table was designed by Don Stedman from the National Research Council of Canada over 70 years ago (Can. J. Res. 1947, DOI: 10.1139/cjr47b-023). The model consists of a cubic paraboloid of revolution that accommodates the main octet families up to titanium and has two fins. Starting with vanadium, the larger fin primarily accommodates the d-block elements, while the smaller fin accommodates the f-block elements. Interestingly, the chemical symbol for element 43 is not shown since the name technetium was proposed in only 1947 (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/159024a0). According to Stedman’s paper, the greatest degree of chemical differences between the elements is represented by their spacing through the thickness of the model, while the horizontal distances on the surface, delineated by the thin lines connecting the elements, represent lesser degrees of difference. The heavy vertical lines indicate the general families of the elements. Stedman states that “the present arrangement gives so much more insight into the orderly development and classification of the elements that its somewhat greater complexity is merely a reflection of the actual complexity of chemistry itself.”

Stephen L. Bearne
Halifax, Nova Scotia

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