One of the advantages of working at a small university that puts a variety of disciplines cheek-by-jowl in a single building is that I get exposed to all sorts of different stuff. It sometimes has its downsides — I’m on an interdisciplinary search committee, so next week is consumed with seminars in statistics and computer science, all very mathy, that will sorely strain my brain — but I get to learn stuff all the time, which makes me happy.
So this semester I’m always trundling stuff up and down between the second and third floors for my genetics lab, and the third floor is where all the chemistry labs are taught, so I run into these cool posters that I have to stop and stare at every time I go by. They’re cartograms of the periodic table of the elements from webelements.com, and yes, you can buy them for yourself ($10.14, cheap). Unfortunately, the thumbnails available on their site are fairly low quality and don’t do justice to them — they’re very pretty posters.
So here’s some perspective for you, two periodic tables where each element is proportionally scaled by abundance (the product of the big bang!), the top one of abundance in the universe, and the bottom one showing abundance in earth’s crust (products of nucleosynthesis in exploding stars).
That’s what the universe is all about: thinly distributed hydrogen and helium in a vast space, with traces of heavier elements occasionally forming in energetic accidents.
Also, any time I see a periodic table anymore — which is all the time — I am reminded of that awful debate with Jerry Bergman in which he claimed that Darwinists were trying to criminalize the periodic table because it revealed that all the elements were irreducibly complex. That’s how out of touch with reality those guys are.