Treebeard's Stumper Answer
An Elementary Scavenger Hunt
Everything in the world is made from the same 92+ chemical elements listed below. Some are commonplace, like iron and oxygen. Others are profoundly uncommon, like hafnium and yttrium. Many are unfamiliar, but they have regular uses, like lithium camera batteries. This vacation stumper is a scavenger hunt. Can you find natural or manufactured objects that contain each of the natural elements, either as a pure sample or an important ingredient? The more familiar and useful, the better! Find them, and we'll make a collection!
The Elements Listed by Atomic Number Tom Leher's song The Elements (1960)
1 Hydrogen H 2 Helium He 3 Lithium Li 4 Beryllium Be 5 Boron B 6 Carbon C 7 Nitrogen N 8 Oxygen O 9 Fluorine F 10 Neon Ne 11 Sodium Na 12 Magnesium Mg 13 Aluminum Al 14 Silicon Si 15 Phosphorus P 16 Sulfur S 17 Chlorine Cl 18 Argon Ar 19 Potassium K 20 Calcium Ca 21 Scandium Sc 22 Titanium Ti 23 Vanadium V 24 Chromium Cr 25 Manganese Mn 26 Iron Fe 27 Cobalt Co 28 Nickel Ni 29 Copper Cu 30 Zinc Zn 31 Gallium Ga
32 Germanium Ge 33 Arsenic As 34 Selenium Se 35 Bromine Br 36 Krypton Kr 37 Rubidium Rb 38 Strontium Sr 39 Yttrium Y 40 Zirconium Zr 41 Niobium Nb 42 Molybdenum Mo 43 Technetium Tc 44 Ruthenium Ru 45 Rhodium Rh 46 Palladium Pd 47 Silver Ag 48 Cadmium Cd 49 Indium In 50 Tin Sn 51 Antimony Sb 52 Tellurium Te 53 Iodine I 54 Xenon Xe 55 Cesium Cs 56 Barium Ba 57 Lanthanum La 58 Cerium Ce 59 Praseodymium Pr 60 Neodymium Nd 61 Promethium Pm 62 Samarium Sm
63 Europium Eu 64 Gadolinium Gd 65 Terbium Tb 66 Dysprosium Dy 67 Holmium Ho 68 Erbium Er 69 Thulium Tm 70 Ytterbium Yb 71 Lutetium Lu 72 Hafnium Hf 73 Tantalum Ta 74 Wolfram W 75 Rhenium Re 76 Osmium Os 77 Iridium Ir 78 Platinum Pt 79 Gold Au 80 Mercury Hg 81 Thallium Tl 82 Lead Pb 83 Bismuth Bi 84 Polonium Po 85 Astatine At 86 Radon Rn 87 Francium Fr 88 Radium Ra 89 Actinium Ac 90 Thorium Th 91 Protactinium Pa 92 Uranium U (There's more!)
There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium,
And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium
And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium,
And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium,
Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium
And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium
And gold, protactinium and indium and gallium (inhale)
And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium.
There's yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium
And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium
And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium,
And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium and barium.
(Isn't that interesting?
I knew you would.
I hope you're all taking notes, because there's gonna be
a short quiz next period.)
There's holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium
And phosphorous and francium and fluorine and terbium
And manganese and mercury, molybdinum, magnesium,
Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and cesium
And lead, praseodymium, platinum, plutonium,
Paladium, promethium, potassium, polonium,
Tantalum, technetium, titanium, tellurium, (inhale)
And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium.
There's sulfur, californium and fermium, berkelium
And also mendelevium, einsteinium and nobelium
And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc and rhodium
And chlorine, cobalt, carbon, copper,
Tungsten, tin and sodium.
These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard,
And there may be many others but they haven't been discovered.
There are unstable elements beyond Uranium, but they don't occur naturally on Earth. I hope you don't find them, especially number 94 (Plutonium, Pu)! Here's a printable checklist so you can keep score. You can listen to Tom Leher if you have QuickTime installed!
Coleman lanterns for camping use silk mantles soaked in a solution of thorium, cerium, and manganese oxides. The stronger new mantles use yttrium oxide. Many elements are commonplace, but it's interesting that these unfamiliar materials are just what we need to make something as down to earth as camping lanterns. I think of the chemical elements as the universal Legos of the universe. There are all the common blocks, but sometimes we need that special piece hidden down in the bottom of the box! Our final list of elements is below.
This was a fun scavenger hunt at school, and the Dunn Middle School kids rose to the challenge. I'm still collating our results, so this list is mostly mine. I'll update it when I can. Of course this list is not "complete". It's not meant to be. I originally found uses for 55 of the elements. With some research, we've found most of them without using generic answers like the Earth's crust or seawater, though metal alloys and special glass and semiconductors are pretty close to generic. Some of these are questionable, expect errors. The kids found that vitamin supplements and junk food labels are remarkable resources. A few jokes were irresistible.
There's a short form of this list that prints on both sides of one piece of paper on my 300 dpi laser printer, if I reduce all margins as much as possible and eliminate the usual header and footer.
|1||Hydrogen||H||charging car batteries, Zeppelin dirigibles (The Hindenburg), hydrogen bombs, hydrogen peroxide, hydrogenated oils, welding, water (H20) and all hydrocarbons, future fuel source?|
|2||Helium||He||birthday balloons and blimps, oxygen mix for deep ocean diving, inert gas for welding, lasers, pressuring rocket fuel|
|3||Lithium||Li||batteries for camera and computers, grease for car distributer arm, pyrotechnics, glass for telescopes, manic-depressive illness medicine, Nirvana CD|
|4||Beryllium||Be||emeralds and beryl gems, copper and brass alloys, springs and bearings, x-ray windows|
|5||Boron||B||borax for laundry and tanning animal skins, pyrex glass, boric acid eyewash and ant control, solder flux, fancy fly fishing rods, homemade silly putty ("goop"), dietary mineral supplements, Death Valley|
|6||Carbon||C||charcoal, graphite powder and fibers, diamond, coal, CO2, carbonated drinks, gunpowder, the basis for organic chemistry and life|
|7||Nitrogen||N||air, nitrates in hot dogs, ammonia, smog, manure, fertilizer, saltpetre, gunpowder, TNT, fireworks, nitro fuel, inert gas, amino acids and protein, nitric acid|
|8||Oxygen||O||air, rust and other oxides, welding, the basis of combustion and metabolism, ozone, LOX rocket fuel|
|9||Fluorine||F||drinking water additive, toothpaste, teflon, freon in old refrigerators and air conditioners, etching glass|
|10||Neon||Ne||neon lights, gas lasers, cryogenic refrigerant, Las Vegas|
|11||Sodium||Na||table salt, sodium-vapor street lights, almost all foods (too much)|
|12||Magnesium||Mg||epsom salts, sparklers and fireworks, flash bulbs, milk of magnesia, mag wheels, survival fire starter, chlorophyll, dietary mineral supplements|
|13||Aluminum||Al||foil, soda cans, cooking pots, engine blocks, bike frames and airplane bodies, telescope mirrors, thermite, clay and many rocks, ruby and sapphire, sandpaper grit, power lines|
|14||Silicon||Si||sand, quartz, most rocks, glass, sandpaper, computer chips, most Baywatch stars, silicone sealant, grease, and implants|
|15||Phosphorus||P||match heads, pyrotechnics, bones, bonemeal and super-phosphate fertilizer, breakfast cereal, carbonated drinks, steel alloys, ATP in all living cells|
|16||Sulfur||S||matches, farts, egg yolks, rotten egg smell, vulcanized rubber, gunpowder, dried fruit, volcanoes and hot springs, stomach and car battery acid, Santa Barbara drinking water, fungacide spray for fruit trees|
|17||Chlorine||Cl||bleach, most swimming pools and hot tubs and city water, freon, table salt, PVC pipe|
|18||Argon||Ar||light bulbs and fluorescent bulbs, inert gas for welding|
|19||Potassium||K||saltpeter, wood ashes, fertilizer, bananas, pyrotechnics, gator-aide, low-sodium salt substitute, dietary mineral supplements|
|20||Calcium||Ca||milk, bones, teeth, baking soda, cement, plaster, lime, chalk, limestone, hard water, dietary mineral supplements|
|21||Scandium||Sc||added to mercury vapor lamps for natural light|
|22||Titanium||Ti||expensive bike and airplane parts, white paint, dietary mineral supplements, golf clubs, dental caps, surgical implants, desalination plants, star sapphires and rubies|
|23||Vanadium||V||tool steels, small amounts in dietary mineral supplements|
|24||Chromium||Cr||trim and bumpers on cars, cro-moly bike frame, stainless steel, chrome yellow paint, tanning leather, mordant for dyeing, dietary mineral supplements|
|25||Manganese||Mn||black powder in flashlight batteries, contaminant in my drinking water, steel alloys, black pigment, dietary mineral supplements, Coleman mantles, amethyst|
|26||Iron||Fe||most abundant metal, steel beams, frying pans, tools, nails, hemaglobin in blood, spinach, dietary mineral supplements|
|27||Cobalt||Co||cobalt blue paint, magnets in good headphones, alnico magnets, alloys for jet engines|
|28||Nickel||Ni||silverware, stainless steel, alnico magnets, nickles?, ni-cad and ni-mh batteries|
|29||Copper||Cu||electrical wires, good cooking pans, water pipes, blue and green paints, brass and bronze|
|30||Zinc||Zn||galvanized metal, brass, flashlight battery cases, zinc oxide cream, solder, dietary mineral supplements, pennies?, dietary mineral supplements, Sobe drinks, pigments|
|31||Gallium||Ga||semiconductors, gallium-arsenide LEDs for lasers, low-melting alloys, mirror coating on glass, UV phosphors|
|32||Germanium||Ge||semiconductors, classic diode for crystal radio, dental alloys, special glass for wide-angle lenses|
|33||Arsenic||As||ant poison, "Arsenic and Old Lace", paris green paint, gallium-arsenide LEDs for lasers, pyrotechnics|
|34||Selenium||Se||solar cells, electrical rectifiers, concentrated by loco-weed, tiny amount in dietary mineral supplements|
|35||Bromine||Br||BromoSeltzer and AlkaSeltzer antacids, sedatives ("bromides"), gasoline additive?, photography|
|36||Krypton||Kr||flash lamps for high-speed photography, fluorescent lights, Superman's nemesis!|
|37||Rubidium||Rb||photocells, special glass|
|38||Strontium||Sr||red fireworks, in 1950s kids and penguins from nuclear fallout, tracer bullets, optical glass|
|39||Yttrium||Y||red phospher in TV tubes, lasers, metal alloys, new Coleman lantern mantles, artificial diamonds|
|40||Zirconium||Zr||zircon gems, superconductor magnets, surgical steel, lighter flints, nuclear reactors, poison oak lotions?|
|41||Niobium||Nb||tool steel additive, superconductor magnets, arc-welding rods|
|42||Molybdenum||Mo||cro-moly bike frame, stainless steel, high temperature grease, small amount essential for plants, dietary mineral supplements|
|44||Ruthenium||Ru||alloys for electrical contacts|
|45||Rhodium||Rh||car catalytic converters, electrical contacts, special alloys|
|46||Palladium||Pd||removes color from gold to make white gold, dental crowns, electrical contacts|
|47||Silver||Ag||jewelry, money, photography, silver solder, eye medicine, burn dressing, cloud seeding|
|48||Cadmium||Cd||cds light sensor, expensive paint pigment, ni-cad batteries, color TV tubes, silver solder|
|49||Indium||In||photocells, low-temperature solders and alloys, semiconductors, mirror surface|
|50||Tin||Sn||tin can lining, solder, white metal D&D figures and model parts, pewter, old toys, tinfoil, window glass manufacture, super-conductor magnets|
|51||Antimony||Sb||infrared diodes, match heads?, tracer bullets, white metal, batteries|
|52||Tellurium||Te||semiconductors, glass colorant, vulcanizing rubber, daylight lamps, blasting caps|
|53||Iodine||I||disinfectant medicine, iodized salt, kelp, dietary mineral supplements, photography, cloud seeding, fingerprints, detects starch|
|54||Xenon||Xe||electron tubes, strobe lights, camera flashes, fluorescent lights, light bulbs?, lasers|
|55||Cesium||Cs||super-accurate atomic clocks, photoelectric cells|
|56||Barium||Ba||drink before digestive tract x-ray, white paint, pyrotechnics|
|57||Lanthanum||La||carbon-arc lighting for movies, special optical glass|
|58||Cerium||Ce||Coleman lantern mantles (w/ Thorium), catalyst in self-cleaning ovens, carbon-arc lighting, lighter flints, glass polishing agent|
|59||Praseodymium||Pr||welding goggles, carbon-arc lighting for movies, cigarette lighters|
|60||Neodymium||Nd||welding goggles, special glass, lasers, powerful magnets|
|61||Promethium||Pm||beta source for thickness gages|
|62||Samarium||Sm||magnets in expensive Sony headphones, carbon-arc lighting for movies|
|63||Europium||Eu||red phospher in TV tubes (as europium-activated yttrium vanadate!), lasers|
|64||Gadolinium||Gd||TV tubes, enhances images in patients undergoing MRI scans, CD disks?, nuclear reactor control rods, metal alloys|
|66||Dysprosium||Dy||lasers, CD disks?, nuclear reactor control rods|
|67||Holmium||Ho||alloys?, glass colorant|
|68||Erbium||Er||photographic filter?, glass colorant, nuclear control rods|
|69||Thulium||Tm||radiation source?, magnetic alloys?|
|70||Ytterbium||Yb||portable x-ray radiation source, lasers?|
|71||Lutetium||Lu||alloys, industrial chemistry catalysts|
|72||Hafnium||Hf||special metal alloys, reactor control rods for nuclear submarines, vacuum tubes|
|73||Tantalum||Ta||expensive capacitors in electronics, surgical sutures and plates, high temperature steels, camera lenses|
|W||light bulb and TV tube filaments, car distributer points, tungston-carbide saw blades, fluorescent lights|
|75||Rhenium||Re||electrical contacts, thermocouples, alloys|
|76||Osmium||Os||hard alloys for fountain pen tips and phonograph needles, detect fingerprints?|
|77||Iridium||Ir||trace in rocks at end of dinosaur age, coating on some Oakley sunglasses?, high temperature crucibles, pen tips|
|78||Platinum||Pt||expensive jewelry, instrument probes, spark plugs, missile nose cones, jet engine fuel nozzles, catalytic converters for cars, blonds and credit cards!|
|79||Gold||Au||jewelry, money, bullion, printed circuit board connectors, gold teeth, coating satellites|
|80||Mercury||Hg||thermometers, mercury switches, tooth filling amalgam, explosives, mercury-vapor lamps, small batteries, seafood and too much water, dangerous environmental poison|
|81||Thallium||Tl||old rat and ant poison, semiconductors, special glass|
|82||Lead||Pb||fishing weights, car batteries, lead gasoline, Roman plumbing, solder, radiation shields, bullets, crystal glass, white pigment for paint|
|84||Polonium||Po||brushes for removing dust from photographic films|
|86||Radon||Rn||dangerous gas in Rincon shale in Santa Barbara foothills can collect in houses|
|88||Radium||Ra||old glowing watch hands, cancer treatment|
|90||Thorium||Th||Coleman lantern mantles (w/ Cerium), alloys with magnesium and tungsten, special camera lenses|
|92||Uranium||U||nuclear fuel rods, atom bombs, armor piercing bullets, yellow glass, photographic toner|
|94||Plutonium||Pu||nuclear weapons, nuclear power, bad toxin, powers time machine in "Back to the Future"|
|95||Americium||Am||ionization source for smoke detectors?, gamma radiography|
|96||Curium||Cm||"alpha particle source for the Alpha Proton X-Ray Spectrometer on Mars"|
|98||Californium||Cf||"used in moisture gauges for the determination of water and oil-bearing layers in oil wells."|
There are many Web sites with info on the chemical elements, but most of them are too-technical databases. Here are a few links I found especially useful or interesting:
Mark Winter's WebElements is a comprehensive site with much information on the chemical elements, including recognized uses, cost, and occurance. Great resource.
- The Spectrum Laboratories Periodic Table has a clickable periodic table with the full entries from the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.
- The Los Alamos National Laboratory's Periodic Table of the Elements has more info and uses.
- The Periodic Table of Poetry offers poems for many of the elements.
The Periodic Table of Comic Books collects references to the chemical elements in comic books. I love old comics! I have most of the classic DC Metal Men comics (and lots more), so I was delighted to find this site. This is a labor of love by F. James Holler and John P. Selegue of the University of Kentucky chemistry department. I love the Web for making these obsessions public!
- In case you missed the link, be sure to listen to Tom Leher's song The Elements. It's all the elements set to music! You'll need the Quicktime player.
- The American Chemical Society (ACS) and General Chemistry Online have general chemistry info and links.
- Coleman Lanterns are part of what makes America great. They do their job. You can read about how they work. There's an interesting history of Coleman lantern mantles in the patent application for the new yttrium mantles, available from the IBM Intellectual Property Network. The original stage-lighting system involved heating a block of quicklime with a gas torch, hence "being in the limelight". The classic Welsbach mantles (1889) and the new yttrium mantles (1983) make bright gaslight possible at much lower and safer temperatures. For an interesting demo, hang a mantle from a ringstand clamp and gently heat it with a propane torch to make it glow without being consumed. All mantles contain radioactive thorium, so don't breath the dust when they (inevitably) break!
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