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Science
Elements

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The Periodic Table
Ores
Names - origins
Alternative names
Flame Colours
Other

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Elements

The Periodic Table

Number of naturally occurring elements (conventional wisdom; in truth it's not that simple) Click to show or hide the answer
Group I: lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, caesium, francium Click to show or hide the answer
Group II: beryllium, magnesium, calcium, strontium, barium, radium Click to show or hide the answer
Group XVII: fluorine, chlorine, iodine, bromine, astatine (each needing one electron to fill their outer shells, making them highly reactive and forming acids in combination with hydrogen, salts with metals) Click to show or hide the answer
Group XVIII: elements with full electronic shells: helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon are the six naturally occurring Click to show or hide the answer
Groups IB, IIB … VIIIB – atomic numbers 21–30, 39–48, 57–80 Click to show or hide the answer
Elements with atomic numbers 57 to 71 (57 is lanthanum) Click to show or hide the answer
Non–technical name for the lanthanoids (elements with atomic numbers 57 to 71 – previously known as lanthanides) Click to show or hide the answer
Elements with atomic numbers 89–103 (89 is Actinium; 93–103 do not occur naturally) Click to show or hide the answer
Elements with atomic numbers greater than 92 (Uranium is 92) Click to show or hide the answer

Ores

Bauxite is the most common ore of Click to show or hide the answer
Stibnite is the main ore of Click to show or hide the answer
Chalcopyrite is the most common ore of; malachite is another ore of Click to show or hide the answer
Siderite, haematite and magnetite are ores of Click to show or hide the answer
Galena is an ore of Click to show or hide the answer
Dolomite is an ore (source of the oxide) of Click to show or hide the answer
Cinnabar is the only important ore of Click to show or hide the answer
Pentlandite is an ore of Click to show or hide the answer
Sperrylite is the chief ore of Click to show or hide the answer
Cassiterite is an ore of Click to show or hide the answer
Rutile and ilmenite are the chief ores of Click to show or hide the answer
Pitchblende is an ore of Click to show or hide the answer
Sphalerite is the chief ore of; smithsonite (known historically as calamine) is another ore of Click to show or hide the answer

Names (meanings and origins)

This section gives the derivations of some of the more commonly–asked element names. For a full list, see Chemical Element Names.

Gets its name from the Greek word for orpiment – one of its ores, which was known to the ancient Romans and is used in painting as a yellow pigment Click to show or hide the answer
Name comes from the Greek for 'stink' Click to show or hide the answer
Named after a US state Click to show or hide the answer
Named after the largest asteroid – which was itself named after the Roman goddess of agriculture Click to show or hide the answer
From the Greek for 'pale green' or 'yellowish green' Click to show or hide the answer
From the Greek for 'colour' Click to show or hide the answer
From the German word for a goblin Click to show or hide the answer
Named after Cyprus Click to show or hide the answer
Named after an Italian–born nuclear physicist and Nobel laureate Click to show or hide the answer
Named by its discoverer from the Latin name for his native country (France) Click to show or hide the answer
Named after the Greek god of the Sun Click to show or hide the answer
Named by the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, who identified it as an element in 1783, from the Greek for 'water producer' Click to show or hide the answer
Named after a colour (not, as may appear at first sight, after an Asian country) Click to show or hide the answer
Named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow, because of the striking and diverse colors of its salts Click to show or hide the answer
Name comes from the Greek word for 'hidden' Click to show or hide the answer
Name is from the Greek for 'new' Click to show or hide the answer
Named by the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, who identified it as an element in 1774, from the Greek for 'acid producer' Click to show or hide the answer
Name comes from the Spanish for 'little silver' Click to show or hide the answer
Named after the country of her birth by Marie Curie, who discovered it along with her husband Pierre Click to show or hide the answer
Named after the Titan in Greek mythology who stole fire from the gods Click to show or hide the answer
Named after the Greek goddess of the Moon Click to show or hide the answer
Named after a village in Scotland, near which its ore was discovered in 1787; the only element that's named after a place in the UK Click to show or hide the answer
Name comes from the Greek for 'artificial' or 'man–made' Click to show or hide the answer
Named from the Latin for the planet Earth (Tellus – a variation on Terra) Click to show or hide the answer
Modern name comes from the Swedish for 'heavy stone' Click to show or hide the answer
From the Greek for 'foreign' or 'stranger' Click to show or hide the answer

Alternative names

Stibium in Latin – hence its symbol (Sb) Click to show or hide the answer
Aurum in Latin v hence its symbol (Au) Click to show or hide the answer
Ferrum in Latin – hence its symbol (Fe); thus, the words ferrous, ferric and ferrate indicate that a substance contains Click to show or hide the answer
Argentum in Latin – hence its symbol (Ag); argent in French, argento in Italian, plata in Spanish Click to show or hide the answer
Plumbum in Latin – hence its symbol (Pb) Click to show or hide the answer
Formerly known as quicksilver; also formerly known (in 'New Latin') as hydrargyrum – a Latinised form of the Greek words for water and silver; hence its symbol (Hg) Click to show or hide the answer
Kalium in Latin – hence its symbol (K) Click to show or hide the answer
Natrium in Latin – hence its symbol (Na) Click to show or hide the answer
Referred to in (English versions of) the Bible as brimstone Click to show or hide the answer
Wolfram in German, and in other European languages (especially the Slavic ones) – hence its symbol (W) Click to show or hide the answer

Flame Colours

Q: What's the colour of the flame that's produced when a salt of ... burns? A:
Barium Click to show or hide the answer
Calcium Click to show or hide the answer
Copper Click to show or hide the answer
Iron Click to show or hide the answer
Lead Click to show or hide the answer
Lithium Click to show or hide the answer
Magnesium Click to show or hide the answer
Potassium Click to show or hide the answer
Sodium Click to show or hide the answer
Strontium Click to show or hide the answer
Titanium Click to show or hide the answer

Other

Some of these may be quite hard if asked as they stand – it may help sometimes to give the atomic number.

The first element, alphabetically Click to show or hide the answer
The most abundant metal in the Earth's crust Click to show or hide the answer
The only metal that expands on cooling (some of its alloys do also) Click to show or hide the answer
The most common inert gas, and the third most abundant gas in the Earth's atmosphere at just under 1% Click to show or hide the answer
Heaviest of the halogens (atomic number 85): 33 isotopes, all radioactive; produced by the decay of uranium–235 and uranium–238 Click to show or hide the answer
Used in a meal that shows up on X–rays Click to show or hide the answer
Used in various medicines, for example to treat gastric ulcers Click to show or hide the answer
The only element apart from mercury that's liquid at room temperature (boils at 59°C) Click to show or hide the answer
Cited in the SI definition of the second, and used in atomic clocks Click to show or hide the answer
Hardness of water is chiefly caused by ions of Click to show or hide the answer
Click to show or hide the answer
Present in all organic compounds Click to show or hide the answer
Forms more compounds than any other element apart from hydrogen
Highest melting point of any element (c. 4,000oC)
Diamond, graphite, Buckminster–Fullerite ('Bucky balls'), graphene and the rare lonsdaleite are allotropes of Click for more information
The more abundant of the two stable isotopes of carbon (about 98.89%); used as the standard for atomic weights (replaced oxygen in 1961) Click to show or hide the answer
Radioactive isotope of carbon, used as the basis for carbon dating Click to show or hide the answer
First isolated by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, 1774 Click to show or hide the answer
Metal impurity that makes ruby red and emerald green Click to show or hide the answer
Added to steel to make stainless steel (see Alloys)
Gives its name to a greenish–blue pigment, which contains its aluminate (atomic number 27) Click to show or hide the answer
Elements other than iron that produce magnetic fields Click to show or hide the answer
Click to show or hide the answer
The green flame test is a test for Click to show or hide the answer
Atomic number 110: named in 2003 after the German city where it was discovered in 1994 (at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research) Click to show or hide the answer
Rare isotope of hydrogen, atomic weight 2; sometimes called heavy hydrogen; its oxide is heavy water Click to show or hide the answer
Atomic number 100 Click to show or hide the answer
The sun converts hydrogen into Click to show or hide the answer
Formed when a hydrogen bomb is detonated; alpha particles are nuclei of
Lowest boiling point (–268.9oC) and melting point (–270.2oC)
Most abundant element in the Universe Click to show or hide the answer
The lightest gas
Forms more compounds than any other element
Present in all acids
Protium is the most common isotope of
99% of the Sun is; 99% of the universe is also believed to be Click to show or hide the answer
Metallic element that's most resistant to corrosion (atomic number 77) Click to show or hide the answer
The Earth's core is thought to be made of Click to show or hide the answer
Eventual product of the radioactive decay of Uranium Click to show or hide the answer
The lightest metal (relative density 0.534, compared to aluminium's 2.699), and the first in the Periodic Table (atomic number 3) Click to show or hide the answer
Metal (atomic number 12) that burns vigorously, with a brilliant white flame, at comparatively low temperatures Click to show or hide the answer
The first 'trans–Uranic' element (atomic number 93) – created artificially before small naturally–occurring deposits were discovered Click to show or hide the answer
All proteins contain Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Click to show or hide the answer
78% of the Earth's atmosphere is Click to show or hide the answer
Metallic element that's the heaviest known substance (at room temperature) Click to show or hide the answer
Discovered independently, in the same year, by Priestley and Scheele Click to show or hide the answer
Carbohydrates contain carbon, hydrogen and
All compounds ending in –ite must contain
The third most abundant element in the universe (after hydrogen and helium), and the most common in the Earth's crust (49%); also the most abundant in the human body (25% – carbon is 10%)
Highly reactive element: exists in several allotropes including white, red and black; usually stored under water Click to show or hide the answer
The thirteenth element to be discovered, and the first that hadn't been known since ancient times: isolated from urine, in 1669, by the German alchemist Hennig Brand
Used to fuel most modern nuclear weapons Click to show or hide the answer
The second trans–Uranic element (after Neptunium) – atomic number 94
Atomic number 61: like technetium, it has no stable isotopes and before being found in nature it was produced artificially (in the US Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, in 1945 – but not announced until 1947) Click to show or hide the answer
Marie Curie won the Nobel Physics prize in 1911 for discovering Click to show or hide the answer
Radioactive noble (inert) gas to which radium decomposes Click to show or hide the answer
The densest known gas
The second most abundant element in the Earth's crust (27% – oxygen 49%) Click to show or hide the answer
Best conductor of electricity Click to show or hide the answer
First in the Periodic Table whose symbol starts with a different letter from its English name (atomic number 11) Click to show or hide the answer
Causes the dark 'D' lines in the sun's spectrum; burns with a yellow flame
Stored in oil because it oxidises rapidly in air and reacts violently with water
Salts used in fireworks to produce a crimson flame; also used in toothpaste Click to show or hide the answer
The word 'pyrites' (pie–RYE–tees or pie–rights), as in 'iron pyrites', indicates the presence of (compounded with a metal) Click to show or hide the answer
The prefix 'thio–' in the name of a compound indicates that in its structure, an atom of oxygen has been replaced by one of
Atomic number 43: the lowest–numbered element with no stable isotopes; the first element to have been produced artificially before being found in nature Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Shortest name Click to show or hide the answer
Has ten stable isotopes (more than any other element)
Mined, assessed, coined and sold in a stannary (town)
Dioxide used as white pigment for paints, toothpaste, etc. Click to show or hide the answer
Radioactive isotope of hydrogen – atomic weight 3 Click to show or hide the answer
Most commonly used for light–bulb filaments Click to show or hide the answer
Highest melting point of any metal (3,410 °C)
The most complicated element that occurs naturally (atomic number 92) Click to show or hide the answer
Yellowcake is a stage in the production of
Radium is only found in ores of
The only fissile isotope, of any element, found in economic quantity in nature; enriched uranium has a higher proportion of it Click to show or hide the answer
Galvanisation involves coating with Click to show or hide the answer
The last element but one, alphabetically
The last element, alphabetically – its oxide is often used as a substitute for diamonds or other gemstones Click to show or hide the answer

© Haydn Thompson 2017