Periodic Table Table

by Eva Amsen

wooden periodic tableThe Wooden Periodic Table Table is just that: a table, made of wood, in the shape of the periodic table. It even has panels and compartments to contain the actual elements. The table received a lot of media attention three years ago, when it won the 2002 IgNobel prize in Chemistry.

The complete history of the table describes how it all came to be:

“One evening while reading Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks, I became momentarily confused. He begins a chapter with a description of a periodic table display he loved to visit in the Kensington Science Museum, and in mis-reading the paragraph, I thought it was a table, not the wall display it actually is.”

…and why:

“My reasons for making the physical Periodic Table Table were purely practical: We needed a new conference table for my office area, and I didn’t want an ugly one from the office supply catalog. “

It certainly is unique: the table now has 989 samples (some external) and all are shown on the website. Some of the samples have stories to tell, like sodium.

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