Periodic Table Picnic Table

I can’t remember where I first came across this very cool piece of usable art (probably somewhere on ScienceBlogs).

periodic table picnic table

It’s located on campus at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, created as part of a public art program. The table is completely scientifically accurate in compliance with the Internation Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), which recognises that elements above 112 “have been reported but not fully authenticated”.

periodic table picnic table closeup

Would someone please pass the NaCl?


Creation – The movie about the life of Charles Darwin

Due for release in Australia in the first half of 2010, Creation is a movie about Charles Darwin and The Origin of Species. Starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connolly, the film explores the relationship between Charles and Emma, how they coped with the loss of a child and the ramifications of the publication of Darwin’s great book. Bettany and Connolly are married in real life, and should have excellent on-screen chemistry.

The film was debuted last week at the Toronto Film Festival, and there has been some concern that it won’t be distributed in The States.
However as Larry Moran points out at Sandwalk, this may all be a ploy to drum up publicity or start a bidding war. As a film that is getting a mainstream release, I suspect there will probably be not a lot of science in the movie but that won’t stop me dragging Other Half along to see it.

You can view the trailer here.


Geek Chic

Via Sandwalk, I’ve come across Etsy seller ShopGibberish. If this is not the coolest stuff ever, I don’t know what is. Julie is a high school chemistry teacher from California who makes periodic table themed jewellery from glass tiles and scrabble pieces.

Julie has taken a little artistic licence, with her creations and the elemental symbols are in lower case only. However, I have forgiven her for this because her work is so darn spiffy.

Other cool science-themed jewellery can be found at Made With Molecules, DNA Store, MolecularMuse and Cytoplasm.


National Science Week – Scinema

Scinema is a film festival that runs during National Science Week.

CSIRO Minerals in Clayton showed one of the Scinema films today called ‘Big Bang in Tunguska’, directed by German Christoph Schuch. As you can guess from the title, the documentary is about the explosion that occurred in a remote part of Siberia in 1908, and I was lucky enough to be invited along to the viewing (with popcorn!).

It was an easy to watch documentary, but it didn’t offer much in the way of education or new information for the audience. Though the historical footage (if it was in fact authentic – sometimes I wasn’t sure) was a highlight.

As a chemist, I was disappointed that the film did not even touch on the chemical or isotopic analyses that have been conducted on samples from the site, much of which I believe supports the comet/asteroid/meteor theory.

I found the ‘gas volcano theory’ proponent, Wolfgang Kundt neither believable nor authoritative. And don’t think it is a good sign that the best person willing to talk on camera about that particular theory, was someone who had switched from their core research discipline of Astrophysics to Tunguska research.

There were also films showing at the Melbourne Museum, on the same day the collection tours ran, but I was clearly too excited about the collection tours to realise that Scinema was on too.

You can also check out the winner of the student section, Kristian Lang, on Channel 9’s Today Show, here. Congratulations Kristian!


Unconventional information

One of my favourite bloggers, Dr Isis of On Becoming a Laboratory and Domestic Goddess recently posted a photograph from an artist called Kevin Van Aelst. You can find his page here.

According to his site, Kevin

aim[s] to examine the distance between the ‘big picture’ and the ‘little things’ in life—the banalities of our daily lives, and the sublime notions of identity and existance. While the depictions of information–such as an EKG, fingerprint, map or anatomical model–are unconventional, the truth and accuracy to the illustrations are just as valid as more traditional depictions. This work is about creating order where we expect to find randomness, and also hints that the minutiae all around us is capable of communicating much larger ideas.

Two of my favourites are below. I love the juxtaposition of how they are both instantly recognisable as important scientific icons but they are made out of something we consider fun and frivolous – gummis.