Friday, February 17, 2012

The Rime of the Ancient Elements*

The discovery of krypton and the other noble gases ushered in a fuller understanding the elements, but it was still some time before the noble gases were depicted as shoring up the whole right-hand side of matter:

click to enlarge
The noble gases at the right-hand end appear to make the table rhyme like verse. The elements arranged in successive rows are like verses of length 2, 8, 18 and 32 elements (the gaps make this hard to see at first).
The natural rhyme of the Periodic Table is written in a 2n2 meter, where n = 1, 2, 3, 4,.. . The atomic numbers of the inert gases show this remarkable regularity:
...2 elements...He[2]
...8 elements...Ne[10]
...8 elements...Ar [18]
...18 elements...Kr[36]
...18 elements...Xe{54]
...32 elements...Rn[86]

The ellipses show the number of elements between rhyming noble gas elements, 2, 8, 18, 32, corresponding to the natural meter, 2n2, with n = 1, 2, 3, 4...

The Periodic Table is much more than rhyming noble gases; each element rhymes with the one above and the one below.  The whole damn thing rhymes.
*Rhyme (rime) and rhythm were once distinctly different notions. The old word rime is a Germanic term originally meaning "series, sequence" as in the sequential ordering of the elements. link

More about the man who first noticed this here: Link

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