Submitted by Maggie Geselbracht / Reed College on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 18:16
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PeriodicTable.doc 67 KB

Here's a fun question, prompted by this blog posting:

How many of the chemical elements have you worked with in your research and teaching, either in elemental form or in a chemical compound?

I did a quick count and IF I can trust my memory (which is a big if), then I have worked with about 50 of the elements.  I am weak on the 2nd and 3rd row transition metals and the heavier main groups, not to mention the actinides and trans-actinides.  But, I have worked with tellurium (molten elemental tellurium as a solvent!), scandium, and some of the lanthanides, unlike the blog author.  I guess that is the advantage of being a solid state chemist rather than an organometallic chemist.

We are experimenting with the ability to attach files to a forum post, so I have attached my periodic table with the elements I have worked with shaded in blue.  At the moment, it only appears that one can attach files to an original forum post and not to replies.  Would you like to see that ability extended to forum replies as well?

Hilary Eppley / DePauw University
We can still count them even if the experiments didn't work?
I think I am also around 50, maybe a bit more, but I can't remember exactly all of the lanthanides that my students have worked with since I've been at DePauw. When I initially read your post, I thought "no way" but it turns out they sneak in in odd ways (for instance hexafluroantimonate as a counterion). As an undergraduate I did main group organometallic chemistry with Sn and Pb, and in an organic synthesis of my ligand as a postdoc I used HgO.
Sun, 11/08/2009 - 06:51 Permalink
Maggie Geselbracht / Reed College

In reply to by Hilary Eppley / DePauw University

OK, I completely forgot about (AsF6) ion!  And that also reminds me of (BF4), too.  After thinking about this some more, and recalling some more failed experiments, I am raising my count to 56.
Sun, 11/08/2009 - 14:46 Permalink
Adam Johnson / Harvey Mudd College

In reply to by Hilary Eppley / DePauw University

i was only able to come up with 38, and thats being generous, counting reactions my students did under my direction.  (that counts, by the way)
Sun, 11/08/2009 - 18:08 Permalink
Joanne Stewart / Hope College

In reply to by Maggie Geselbracht / Reed College

While this will undoubtedly sound like I cheated, I came up with 57. I had only 3 lanthanides compared to Maggie's 6, but I had a few more transition metals and I had URANIUM! And I didn't cheat.
Fri, 11/13/2009 - 20:39 Permalink
Adam Johnson / Harvey Mudd College

In reply to by Joanne Stewart / Hope College

You didn't count C or H did you? 
Sun, 11/15/2009 - 23:41 Permalink
Chris Mullins / University of Kentucky

I think I'm up to about 54, still can't believe I don't recall ever using Ga or Ge.


Tue, 11/17/2009 - 23:18 Permalink
Nancy Williams / Scripps College, Pitzer College, Claremont McKenna College
A mere 42, clearly I don't get out much.
Wed, 11/18/2009 - 18:43 Permalink
Julia Chan / University of Texas - Dallas

I just counted the number of elements...

Looks like we've worked with 71 elements (helps that we do lanthanide chemistry also)


Fri, 11/27/2009 - 09:34 Permalink
Barbara Reisner / James Madison University

I'm  over 50 without the lanthanides or actinides. I'd need to go back to my grad school notebooks to figure out which lanthanides I worked with, but I know that it's at least half (depending on how you count the lanthanides).

Wouldn't it be fun to get a list of everyone's elements and create a wordle!

Mon, 11/30/2009 - 21:01 Permalink
Flick Coleman / Wellesley College

In reply to by Adam Johnson / Harvey Mudd College

I made it up to 86, greatly helped by some work I did in the late 1970s on photochemical precipitation of transition and lanthanide salts from the stew created when spent nuclear fuel rods were dissolved in tri-n-butyl phosphate.  Not really wanting to work with nuclear fuel rods, we purchased salts of all of the transition elements except Tc, and all of the lanthanides. 

When I decided to go on our half-time retirement plan, and focus my attention on computation, I turned all of my chemicals back to the stockroom, and our environmental safety officer about had a fit as she had never seen compounds of most of these elements. 


Flick, who is coming off of his first semester of the retirement plan, the semester when he doesn't teach.  It is a very odd feeling, different than return from sabbatical.

Thu, 01/21/2010 - 16:07 Permalink