Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Choke On This!

The word pnictogen refers, in Greek, to the concept of suffocation. The Germans even call nitrogen Stickstoff, meaning suffocating stuff. I choke a little myself on the word pnictogen every time I hear it -- it comes out sounding like feeble erudition. The neighboring group words chalcogen and halogen are only slightly better, and the latter at least finds widespread use. But the concepts pnictogen, chalcogen, and halogen are cool enough and neatly correspond to the idea of periodic rhyming of elements.

Nitrogen is the group leader for team pnictogen and I have arrived at element 15, phosphorus, in my little Aufmarsch from element 1 to element 112 or so. Link

Anybody got any good phosphorus stories?


  1. I don't have any good phosphorus stories - okay, I don't have any phosphorus stories at all - but on this past Sunday's episode of The Amazing Race, the contestants had to rely on the periodic table to get their next clue. You'd be surprised who remembered what the elements were.

  2. Oh! I'll make sure to watch that then! I think my wife DVR'd it, even though we were watching the Oscars. It's one of her favorite shows.


  3. White phosphorous (ignited in a bomb) provides a really satisfying show.

    Red phosphorous (a precursor for methamphetamine sulphide) does the same thin in the minds of users -- and maybe it's not satisfying in the long term.

  4. @LL Leave it to you to anticipate what I want to mention here. Did you ever work with the phosphori?