01 August 2008
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An Elemental Puzzle and A Chemical Conundrum

Here's the Elemental Puzzle

Wall Street Journal Element Cartoon - 01 August 2008

If you've been following my Chemical of the Day "bonus" item, you will have noticed that Wall Street Journal element sightings have been tragically infrequent.  All the easy onesgold, platinum, carbon, oxygen, ironhave been sighted long ago, and the obscure ones, with the stunning exception of ununquaternium (Uuq, 114) rarely make the mainstream news.

Today in the Journal, in an article embodying the cartoon at left, I scored two more elements:  rhodium (Rh) and ruthenium (Ru).  They have been duly added, although neither brings their row closer enough to completion to be hopeful.  Two earlier rows are near completion, with the common elements fluorine and argon being missing.  A third row is missing the common bromine and the somewhat obscure scandium, even though I at least have written about the latter.

What's an element hound to do?  Ask for help, of course!  If you look at the cartoon at the left, which was published today in the Journal, you will see blocks representing a number of elements, including some very uncommon ones.  Rhodium and ruthenium were mentioned in the text of the article, which discussed the fact that futures exchanges are starting to look like science books.  Clearly, they comport with the rules and I am entitled to add them to my WSJ-Spotted periodic table.*  Just as clearly, a random photo of a chemistry classroom, with the inevitable table of the elements posted on the wall, would not.  My question to you, my thousands of millireaders, is how do I treat the cartoon?  Would it be appropriate to add the elements depicted thereon, clearly a selective and considered moiety, to my list of spots?  Or is that without the spirit of the game?  I solicit your opinions and will be guided thereby. 

A Chemical Conundrum

On the one hand, if kids play with explosives, they can blow themselves up.  Arguably a bad thing.

On the other hand, if kids don't play with explosives, whence will come the chemists of tomorrow?

Explosive Materials Found In Oakland Home

OAKLAND, N.J. -- Federal agents and local police searched an Oakland N.J. home for explosives late Monday night after investigators learned a young man might have been building small homemade devices.

A law enforcement source said the young man is believed to have been using chemicals, fireworks and black powder to build small explosives. Two officials stressed there is no link to terrorism and that the large police response was precautionary in nature.

Well spotted by Bill on 02 June, to whom I replied:

"What a shame that the police feel it's necessary to intervene in cases like this. I'm sure the kid isn't doing anything we didn't.  Instead of either killing himself or growing up to be a good engineer, he will probably be so traumatized by the intervention of the authorities that he'll end up as a telephone sanitizer or whatever."

Perhaps I'm too jaded.  Presumably the kid, if he avoids a long sentence, will grow up to be somebody's customer.  And we all know what happens if the telephones don't get sanitized.

*Mendeleev was an answer to one of the questions on Who Wants to be a Millionaire a couple of days ago.  Free publicity!

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