The Periodic Table: Infographic Apotheosis

Everyone knows it when they see it. The classic “castle with turrets” periodic table is a beautiful and concise icon that contains a great deal of amazing information, if you only know how to read it. And even if you don’t know anything about the table, it’s still easy to admire and get lost in.

Author of The Disappearing Spoon, Sam Kean, talks us through the design of the table that hung in the front of your science class for years, but you probably never really understood.

Even though I only deal with the classic table (which I still like the best), Sam Kean points out that there are hundreds of variations that are fun to look at.

And if infographic success is measured by the number of parodies and spoofs, then the periodic table is king.

I asked Sam Kean which was his favorite table parody and he pointed me toward this Periodic Table of Swearing by Modern Toss. It’s particularly great because the swear words share properties and build off one another as you go down each column. That shows great commitment to both the original table and creative vulgarity.

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