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4. The Elements

Now, if I may digress momentarily from the mainstream of this evening's symposium, I'd like to sing a song which is completely pointless, but is something which I picked up during my career as a scientist. This may prove useful to some of you some day, perhaps, in a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances. It's simply the names of the chemical elements set to a possibly recognizable tune*.

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 discahvered.

And now, may I have the next slide please? ...carried away there.


      * The tune is that of The Major-General's Song, by Sir Arthur Sullivan, from Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates Of Penzance.

      The Elements was an attempt to top the song Tschaikowsky, by Ira Gershwin and Kurt Weill, which Danny Kaye sang in the show Lady in the Dark, rattling off the names of 50 Russian composers at lightning speed.

     Although there has been much confusion and academic infighting over the Periodic Table in recent years, here are the elements that have been discovered since the writing of this song:

103. Lawrencium (1961) (Lr)
104. Rutherfordium (1964) (Rf)
105. Dubnium (1967) (Db)
106. Seaborgium (1974) (Sg)
107. Bohrioum (1976) (Bh)
108. Hassium (1984) (Hs)
109. Meitnerium (1982) (Mt)
110. Darmstadtium (1994) (Ds)
111. Still Unnamed (--)
112. Still Unnamed (--)
114. Still Unnamed (--)
116. Still Unnamed (--)
118. Still Unnamed (--)
Dates given are the year that the element was first created, though in many cases, the final name was not decided until years later, and alternate or temporary names were affixed to some of them before the final name was settled. For instance, it was not until August 2003 that Element 110 was named after the town in Germany where it had been discovered. It had been called Ununnillium as a temporary name. Of the various permanent names proposed for it since its discovery, the most colorful was probably "Policium", suggested for the reason that 110 was the telephone number of the German police.

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