43 Replies Latest reply on May 19, 2016 10:55 AM by Eric Scerri

    What is your favorite element?

    Mark Obrien

      Please share your favorite element and explain why you like it the best.   Participate in this thread and we'll send you one of our 111 named element pins.  Sorry, no Copermicium.

       

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        • Re: What is your favorite element?
          Wayne Wolsey

          My favorite element is nitrogen.

          I like the large number of oxidation states, NINE,--ranging from 5+ to 3-, and even includes a value of 1/3 minus, for the azide ion.  The redox chemistry is rather involved, but largely predictable.  As a former profesor of inorganic chemistry, my exams often included some equations to be completed and balanced from Group VA (now 15).

           

          Wayne Wolsey

          Professor Emeritus,

          Macalester College

          St. Paul, MN

          • What is your favorite element?
            Jhonatan Hernandez Valdes

            Hi, my favorite element is vanadium because it has a lot of colors depending of its oxidation state, for example +2 (lilac), +3 (green), +4 (blue) and +5 (yellow) and I really think that I like almost all the transition metals because its colour (generally due to electronic transitions).

            • What is your favorite element?
              Christine Bradford

              Hi,

               

              I think one of my favorite elements is probably Argon. It is totaly inert. How cool would it be to be unaffected by just about anything. And argon lets me do lots of cool reactions that would otherwise be impossible.

              • Re: What is your favorite element?
                Maysoon Al-Hafez

                Hello;

                when I first read the Q I couldn't think of ONE element as my favorite, but after thinking for a while I believe my favorites are Hydrogen & Oxygen. when they combine they make WATER, the source of life. but they also make FIRE (one burns & the other helps the fire, correct me if I'm wrong), this contradiction makes them special, yet they're avalible everywhere.

                • Re: What is your favorite element?
                  Cesar Monteza

                  I think could be the Carbon, almost everywhere, millions of combinations, from the simple atom to macromolecules. You got it in any fashion you want: gaseous to liquids to solids, reduced in any combination with other elements.

                  • Re: What is your favorite element?
                    Julia Makogon

                    I like Argentum, this is the element thermal and electrical conductivity. Silver beautiful decorations

                    • Re: What is your favorite element?
                      Julia Makogon

                      I like Argentum, this is the element thermal and electrical conductivity. Silver beautiful decorations

                      • Re: What is your favorite element?
                        Julia Makogon

                        I like Argentum, this is the element thermal and electrical conductivity. Silver beautiful decorations

                        • Re: What is your favorite element?
                          Dean Markley

                          My favorite element is Plutonium.  It has an infamous history of course but also has some of the oddest properties such as changing crystal structure with temperature and entering criticality.  The naming of plutonium is also fascinating as it logically followed uranium and neptunium.  With the demotion of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet, plutonium joins cerium as the only elements named after dwarf planets!

                          • Re: What is your favorite element?
                            Ashley McKinney

                            My favorite element is Curium because I love Madame Curie.

                            • Re: What is your favorite element?
                              Christina Forbes

                              Maybe my work has swayed me, but I'm a fan of sulfur. Versatile redox properties, nucleophilic champion, a mushier cousin of oxygen. You learn to not mind the smell.

                              • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                Edward Partlow

                                My favorite element by far is copper. As a metal is has so many uses, great conductor of heat and electricity, relatively non-reactive, and a staple metal in construction and engineering. The metal also has great physical qualities. It's the only non silver-gray metal besides gold in its pure form, and its color when freshly cut is a pinkish orange that is so lustrous, and even the slightly browned orange after exposed to air for a while looks very nice. And of course if left even longer, it turns a greenish blue famous in the statue of liberty. In addition, it has a wonderful blue color in solution, especially the amine complex, and crystallized copper sulfate is quite a great sight. This is why copper is, hands down, my favorite element.

                                • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                  Daniel Cook

                                  Got to say tungsten. While it may be a rather simple element compared to some, its strength and durabiliy make it a very useful element. It's alloys make many things possible. And lets not forget, without it you'd probably still be doing your reading by candlelight.

                                  • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                    Solomon Derese

                                    My favorite element by far is carbon. It facinates me the way it forms chains like no other elements. it.

                                    • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                      Kevin Arndt

                                      I would have to say Potassium. It plays such an important role in cellular chemistry and communications. There are lots of new discoveries being made about how ions work in the living system but we don't normally worry about getting enough in our foods as much as other vitamins and minerals.

                                      • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                        Donnie Golden

                                        Argon

                                        Not necessarily for any of its properties but more for the memory it brings back. It reminds me of the semester I took Advanced Analytical with a solid group of friends from undergrad. Our instructor did MS work involving a collision cell. Many of his examples involved Argon, which became a running joke in the class. It reminds me of good times and the good bonds (pun intended) formed within the group.

                                        • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                          LISA CHEDID

                                          My favorite elements are lithium and carbon since they represent the first two letters of my first name and the the first letter of my last name.  Lithium is also cool because of all of the applications it is used for including batteries.  Carbon is my other favorite because it is the basis of all life!!!

                                          • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                            Patrick Braun

                                            It has to be Lead.  These days the most hated, but still one of the most useful.  Nothing comes close to it combined malleability and melting characteristics.  That's why industry has been having such a hard time getting away from using it.  Try to make a decent ammunition bullet without it, not been done yet.

                                            • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                              Maria Perlas

                                              My favorite elements are Krypton, Iodine, Sulfur, Titanium, and Sodium.

                                               

                                              All of which spells my name.

                                               

                                              Carbon is nice too, me being Carbon-based and all...

                                              • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                Khadija Jawad

                                                I adore all the first group elements for their flame test colors, their shininess in pure form, and their general incongruity in science and technology. But if I had to pick something other than those, it would be Manganese for its name.

                                                • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                  Jeffrey Aplin

                                                  There is a bit of story behind Osmium being my favorite.

                                                   

                                                  Upon joining the Chemistry Fraternity AXE as a grad student at UT Austin, we got to pick an element as our Frat nickname.  As an Organic Chemist, most of the obvious choices were taken so I perused the available options.  I noted the Os was still open and quickly realized that I could lay claim to being the Most Great and Powerful Os (making a spin off the movie the Wizard of Oz).  It has been a source of much amusement over the years.  I already have this element pin and wear it to select chemistry functions and end up telling the story often.

                                                   

                                                  Secondly, I would pick Bromine due to many years spent doing research in support of my company's flame retardants business.  I also have a Br element pin and wear it similarly as noted above.

                                                   

                                                  Todd

                                                  • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                    Wayne Cook

                                                    My favorite element is boron.  Boron has some metallic and some non-metallic properties.  I also wrote my dissertation on boron-nitrogen chemistry...

                                                     

                                                    Wayne L. Cook

                                                      • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                        Khadija Jawad

                                                        Boron is surprisingly necessary and interesting: in my bioinorganic class last year I chose to discuss boron's importance in plant cell walls as part of our end-of-semester presentation. This was because I love plants and because I didn't want to do the more obvious bioinorganic focus of metal-protein interactions. The experience is one of the few times I could make sense of biochemistry.

                                                      • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                        Anthony Webb

                                                        Nuclear chemistry fascinates me, so I have to say plutonium.  Besides being infamous for its role in nuclear weapons (like the bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945, which used plutonium-239), it also has some strange properties.  For example, it shrinks as it gets hotter and conducts less heat or electricity than any other metal.  I also find radium very interesting because of the history behind it.  Marie and Pierre Curie first isolated it from uranium-laced ore in 1898, completely unaware of the negative health effects of the gamma rays and beta particles they were being exposed to.  High doses of radium were even used in several medical procedures during the first half of the 20th century.     

                                                        • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                          Andres Tretiakov

                                                          My favourite elements are Neodymium and Praseodymium used in the glassblower's didymium glasses and optical lenses in lasers.

                                                          These glasses are used by glassblowers since they effectively filter out the characteristic sodium yellow glow emitted when heating glass containing sodium making their work easier and unobscured in the flame. Didymium was once thought to be one element but later discovered to be two: Praseodymium and Neodymium. Together they strongly absorb the two sodium yellow emission lines with wavelengths close to 590 nm.

                                                           

                                                          Here is a nice video done by Andrea Sella

                                                          • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                            Stephen Griffin

                                                            I am surprised that I am the first to nominate silicon (Si) as a favorite element, one without which this discussion would not likely take place. But is has other attributes beyond semiconductors. In contrast to the opacity (visible light) of the pure crystalline material, the oxide is one of the most transparent: quartz. If you agree, reply "Si"

                                                            • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                              Maria Villegas

                                                              Hydrogen,

                                                              Mostly because of the many things we can get out of the samllest element. It continues to teach us so much today.

                                                              • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                Samuel Mbugua

                                                                how about sulfur or sulphur...Its chemistry is cool and without it where would we be with vulcanization of rubber?

                                                                • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                  Vanraj Thakor

                                                                  It's Oxygen not only because it's necessary to every one....

                                                                   

                                                                  It's very important to me.. I'm working on Flavone derivatives against estrogen dependent cancer...

                                                                   

                                                                  So you can guess 'O' how much important to Flavone synthesis & Oxin steps...

                                                                  • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                    Robert Buntrock

                                                                    I believe I posted this answer previously when first asked, but I'll do it again.

                                                                    Since I'm three years on my second pacemaker (the first lasted 8 years-yay Medtronic) my favorite element is titanium (Ti).  Formerly used to make skins for high speed aircraft, it now keeps me and many others healthy.  Since the batteries last so long, I suppose that lithium (Li) is my second choice.

                                                                    Mark, this is first I've heard about the pin.  I anticipate a Ti pin shortly.

                                                                    -- Bob Buntrock

                                                                    • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                      Gregory Dobbs

                                                                      My favorite element is Gadolinium.  GD are my initials and Gd has a half-filled shell.  I did my thesis work on its crystal field splittings in rigorously zero magnetic field at liquid helium temperature.

                                                                      • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                        Min Lee

                                                                        Manganese is my favorite element because it has so many oxidation states +2, +3, +4, +6 and +7 and based on the number of charges to the Mn, the function of its element varies.

                                                                        • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                          Janet Smith

                                                                          My favorite element is Si. One can do incredible chemistry with the Si-O chain, and the applications are infinite. I've built my career on SI chemistry in applications such as masonry treatment, hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings, personal care products, and lighting.

                                                                          • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                            Richard Feldenberg

                                                                            I think I love all the periodic table, but my favorite today is sodium (Na).  It is abundant in solution within our bodies as it is in the earth's oceans.   In our plasma it is the major cation, and is responsible for a large contribution to the osmotic pressure and so is important for maintaining circulating blood volume.  Inside of cells it helps regulate cell volume and shape.  Sodium contributes to the electrochemical potential of cell membranes making complex life possible by allowing nervous system and muscle tissue to arise and function.  There are numerous sodium channels and pumps distributed throughout cell membranes.  Some of these proteins are very ancient and well conserved, illustrating the vital importance of regulating sodium through evolutionary history.  Sodium gradients produced by the Na-K-ATPase pump makes possible transport across the cell membranes of kidney epithelial cells of many other substances such as glucose, amino acids, and bicarbonate, that allow vertebrate life to survive. If that weren't enough sodium is found in the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Io, emitted as NaCl by volcanos on it's surface.  It is found in the atmosphere of stars and throughout space.   Today I love sodium. Tomorrow I may have a different favorite element!                       

                                                                            Rich Feldenberg, M.D.

                                                                            Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

                                                                            Division of Pediatric Nephrology

                                                                            • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                              Shabaz Ali

                                                                              I would say mine is carbon. It still astonishes me to this day what these carbon backbones are capable of. Carbon is present in every form of life and as inspired many a great chemists to create the beautiful flied of organic chemistry.

                                                                              • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                                Stephen Griffin

                                                                                Silicon (Si) is also a favorite element of mine, one without which this discussion would not likely take place. But is has other attributes beyond semiconductors. In contrast to the opacity (visible light) of the pure crystalline material (transparent in the IR), the oxide is one of the most transparent to visible: quartz. If you agree, reply "Si"

                                                                                • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                                  Anthony Mitchell

                                                                                  I would have to say that platinum is my favorite element.  My first major paper was on the synthesis of cis-platin and other similar anti-cancer drugs.  Part of my doctoral study was the preparation of another platinum compound.

                                                                                  • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                                    Michael Carrillo

                                                                                    My favorite element right now is Mg.;)

                                                                                    • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                                      Jay Brown

                                                                                      My favorite element has to be hydrogen - atomic number 1. The first element produced in our universe. Our sun fuses hydrogen into helium and shines onto our planet to support life. Hydrogen combustion holds the promise of non-polluting energy (the only product being fresh water, which is in short supply). Ironically, hydrogen generation is often a foe that limits my electrochemical work in aqueous solutions. But that's OK. Hydrogen has already done enough for me, so I'll let that one slide...

                                                                                      • Re: What is your favorite element?
                                                                                        Eric Scerri

                                                                                        My favorite element is number 72 or hafnium.  Among other things it was the cause of my meeting Sir Karl Popper after I wrote to him about what he had said on the subject.  Popper famously claimed that the discovery of hafnium, following Bohr's prediction, represented the most dramatic case of the reduction of chemistry that he was aware of.  Here is a short piece I wrote on Hf for a Royal Society website,

                                                                                         

                                                                                         

                                                                                        The element is number 72 in the periodic table, and is now called hafnium.  It takes its name from hafnium, the old Latin name for Copenhagen which is the city where it was first isolated in 1922.  But first let me back-track a little.  In 1913, the physicist Henry Moseley, working in Manchester and later Oxford, discovered an experimental method for ordering the elements according to their atomic numbers. Prior to this work the elements in the periodic table had been ordered by using their atomic weights, which gave rise to a series with uneven gaps between each element.  As a result, nobody could be sure how many elements remained to be discovered.  All this changed following Moseley’s discovery because atomic number increases in whole number steps as one moves through the periodic table. 

                                                                                                    One of the gaps that opened up, was between element 71, lutetium, and element 73, tantalum.  Moreover this particular case was complicated by the fact that it was not clear if element 72 would turn out to be a transition metal, or perhaps a rare earth element, since element 72 falls at the boundary between these two types of elements. Some chemists thought the element would be a rare earth element and carried out many fruitless searches for the element among minerals containing rare earths.  But some other chemists suggested that the new element would be a transition metal.  The chemical argument for this was quite simple.  According to some versions of the periodic table, element 72 fell underneath titanium and zirconium in the periodic table, and both of these elements were known transition elements.  Then an argument from physics was proposed by Niels Bohr, one of the founders of quantum theory.  According to the electronic configuration that Bohr predicted for element 72 he also agreed that it had be a transition metal. 

                                                                                                    In 1923 Coster and Hevesy a couple of young researchers in Bohr’s institute decided to try to isolate the element as a test of Bohr’s theory.  In order to do this they followed the chemists’ suggestion and decided to look among the ores of zirconium.  Within just a few weeks they succeeded by examining some Norwegian zircon and by detecting the X-ray spectral line frquencies expected for this element.  It was the discovery of one of the only six then remaining gaps in the periodic table. It also turned out to be the one but last discovery of any naturally occurring element, the last one being rhenium a few years later. 

                                                                                                      Hafnium is not all that uncommon compared to many other exotic elements.  It occurs to the extent of 5.8 ppm of the Earth's upper crust by weight.  The reason why it took a long time to isolate is that its atoms have almost the identical size to those of zirconium, along with which it typically occurs in minerals.  This makes it difficult to separate from zirconium.  But these days a number of methods of extraction have been developed and hafnium has found many of applications because of its rather specific properties.  It is a shiny, silvery metal that is corrosion resistant to a remarkable degree.