Archive by category | In your element

Element of the month: Meteoric calcium

Calcium is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. It plays various roles in many organisms, whether for the contraction of muscle cells, preserving potential differences across membranes, as a co-factor for some enzymes, or a component of bones and shells, to name a few.  Read more

Element of the month – Anisotropic dysprosium

This month in his ‘in your element’ piece (subscription required) Dante Gatteschi from the University of Florence and the European Institute of Molecular Magnetism describes dysprosium in the same way as love was in La Traviata: “croce e delizia” (a curse and a blessing).  Read more

Essay competition: And the winner is…

Thanks to everyone who participated in our writing competition! We were delighted to receive so many entries (almost 100 in total). Some elements – copper and nitrogen in particular – proved more popular than others, but all seven elements up for grabs were well represented, we had fun reading the essays, and we learned some quirky anecdotes in the process (I shall share these in future posts).  Read more

Element of the month: All about arsenic

The first thing most people think of when they hear ‘arsenic’ is ‘poison’. In fact, it has played such a crucial part in many a high-profile murder throughout history that it used to be called ‘poudre de succession’ in French (inheritance powder) — mostly by women, according to the French Wikipédia page (!)  … Read more

Element of the month: Selenium stories

It was while making sulfuric acid that Jöns Jacob Berzelius — ‘the father of Swedish chemistry’ — noticed a red residue which he first took for tellurium, as Russell Boyd from Dalhousie University notes in this month’s ‘in your element’ article (subscription required). A more meticulous investigation, however, revealed that the residue displayed different properties, resembling those of sulfur. The new element fell into place between tellurium and sulfur in the chalcogen family of the periodic table, and Berzelius named it selenium (after the Greek word for Moon) owing to its similarity with tellurium (named after the Latin word for Earth).  Read more

Element of the month: A brighter beryllium

As you might already be aware, each month, someone writes a page in the journal about one element. These short pieces are pretty informal, and often include some anecdotes or historical tales about a particular element. As we make our way through the periodic table, I’ve been wanting to share some of these stories with you.  Read more

Elemental examples

You might have heard by now that we are running an essay competition (I promise we won’t keep banging on about it quite so much for a little while) – unless you happen to be at the upcoming ACS meeting in Anaheim… if you swing by booth 1020 at the expo, you might hear a little more about it!  Read more