Thursday, July 26, 2007


In case you've never learned the chemical elements, this poem by Harvard mathematics professor Tom Lehrer set to the tune of The Major-General's Song by Sir Arthur Sullivan, from Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance you will find interesting and informative, at least for the first 102 elements (those discovered prior to 1959, when he wrote the poem.)

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 and protactinium and indium and gallium, (gasp)
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 going to be a short quiz next period...

There's holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium,
And phosphorus and francium and fluorine and terbium,
And manganese and mercury, molybdenum, magnesium,
Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and cesium,
And lead, praseodymium and platinum, plutonium,
Palladium, promethium, potassium, polonium,
And tantalum, technetium, titanium, tellurium (gasp)
And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium.

There's sulfur, californium and fermium, berkelium,
And also mendelevium, einsteinium, nobelium,
And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc and rhodium,
And chlorine, carbon, cobalt, copper, tungsten, tin and sodium.

These are the only ones of which the news has come to Hahvard,
And there may be many others but they haven't been discovered.

Several new elements have been discovered since them, Numbers 103 through 110, i.e. Lawrencium, Rutherfordium, Dubnium, Seaborgium, Bohrioum, Hassium, Meitnerium and Darmstadtium, and 5 others not named yet.

Tom Lehrer wrote and recorded many funny songs and you can still obtain them at the store or over the Internet.



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