periodic table

Science & Technology

Chromium: Are we red-green blind regarding its biological chemistry?

The legendary traffic lights in Berlin, the “Ampelmännchen”, symbolise the opposite biological functions of chromium compounds in two major oxidation states: one for health and the other for disease. In other words, green stands for “go and safe”, red stands for “stop and danger”.

Science & Technology

The Periodic Table and the Actinides

Most people know that uranium is radioactive, but few would think of taking a Geiger Counter with them when antique-hunting. A hundred years ago, uranium oxide was widely used in making decorative glass objects. Their characteristic greenish-yellow colour gave them the name of ‘Vaseline glass’, though their radioactivity means that uranium is not used in glass-making these days. Uranium is also used in making the shells fired by Army tanks, as it is extremely dense and also tends to ignite on impact.

Science & Technology

A biochemical conundrum: Aliens, black sheep, and crown jewels

Beryllium is unique. Some regard it as highly toxic while others say that it tastes sweet in its inorganic salts. As a matter of fact, it is used in the tower of London and space faring aliens in the sci-fi movie “galaxy quest.” Good explanations of the toxicity of dusts containing Beryllium are still sought.

Science & Technology

Some element names are more Babelian than others, but which ones?

The year 2019 has been assigned by UNESCO as the Year of the Periodic Table of the Elements. This, and the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table, can finally be celebrated in the company of no less than 118 elements, all earlier vacancies in the system having been filled. Some reflections on the naming of elements are certainly in order.

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