Chapter 14: Artistic Elements

Austin Moore


Chapter 14 is about how the elements mix with the arts and society. The elements disused in this chapter are: Dysprosium, Praseodymium, Strontium, Ruthenium, Radium, Lithium. Before science was a profession and it didn't involve math it was a hobby for rich aristocrats. Thats also how some elements got there name. Dysprosium got its name, little hidden one, because of how difficult it is to find. Praseodymium got its name, Green twin, because it was found with another element and they are called twins (pg. 124, Ch.14). One very important man in this chapter is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe was very famous and even known as the "Shakespeare of Germany". Goethe is also very well known in the science world, even though he wasn't such a great scientist. Goethe's only lasting contribute to science is that he mentored J.W. Dobereiner's (pg. 125 ch. 14). Dobereiner studied Strontium and found that the weight of Strontium fell between barium and calcium. Dobereiner then organized the elements in a way that is like the periodic table we use today (pg. 126 ch 14).

In the 1930's the Parker Pen Company came out with one of the most famous pens of all time, the Parker 51 (pg. 127 Ch. 14). The tip of the pen was made originally with osmiridium but osmaridium became a struggle to import and to high in price the Parker Pen company had scientist research the best metal for a new tip. The scientist chose Ruthenium because of its abundance and durable it was. The Parker Pen Company used Ruthenium on the Parker 51 until it became obsolete to the typewriter (pg.128 Ch. 14). Mark Twain was a big user of the typewriter and even typed whole published stories. Twain's famous story "Sold to Satan" is about a man who makes a deal with Satan. In the story Twain uses newly found elements like Radium, a radioactive element, to be Satan's body (pg. 129 ch. 14). The Chapter ends talking about famous poet, Robert Lowell. Lowell was famous for his poetry but he was also famous for being a bit crazy (pg. 130 ch. 14). Doctors then found out that Lowell was so crazy because he had a hormone imbalance. Lowell was prescribed lithium to take for the hormone imbalance. The lithium did help with the hormone imbalance but it also shifted Lowell's biological clock (pg. 131 ch.14). Lowell wasn't crazy anymore but he was also not a great poet anymore (pg. 132 ch. 14).


Dysprosium (Dy)

Atomic Number: 66

Mass: 162.500

period: 6

Group: N/A

Electron Configuration: 1s2,2s2,2p6, 3s2,3p6,4s2,3d10,4p6,5s2,4d10,5p6,6s2,4f10.

Transition metal

Dysprosium was found by French chemist Paul-Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran. Boisbaudran found Dy in 1886 as an impurity in erbia. French chemist Georges Urbain isolated Dy in 1906. Today Dysprosium is combined with other rare earth elements to make laser metals. Dysprosium oxide combined with other elements can be used to make cement that cools down nuclear reactor rods. Dysprosium is usually found in an ion exchange process from monazite sand.

Dysprosium gets its name from the greek word dysprositos which means "hard to get at".

Fun facts: Dysprosium has a high melting point.

Pure samples of Dy weren't produced until the 1950's

Dy can have many different forms: dysprosium fluoride, dysprosium iodide, and dysprosium sulfate (Gagon S.)

Praseodymium (Pr)

Atomic Number: 59

Mass: 140.91

Period: 6

Group: N/A

Electron Configuration: 1s2,2s2,2p6,3s2,3p6,4s2,3d10,4p6,5s2,4d10,5p6,6s2,4f3

Transition metal

Praseodymium was found by German chemist Carl F. Auer in 1885. Auer found the element Pr by splitting Didymium and getting Praseodymium and Neodymium. Now Neodymium and Praseodymium are known as twins. Today you can find Pr in monazite sand

Today Praseodymium is used in many different ways. Its main use is to be paired with magnesium to create high-strength metals for airplanes. Praseodymium is also used to make flints for lighters.

Praseodymium is a Greek name meaning "green twin".

Fun facts: Praseodymium makes the core of carbon arc lights which are used in the movie industry.

Praseodymium salts can be used to make glass yellow (Gagon, S).

Strontium (Sr)

Atomic Number: 38

Mass: 87.62

period: 5

Group: 2

Electron Configuration: 1s2,2s2,2p6,3s2,3p6,4s2,3d10,4p6,5s2.

Alkaline earth metal

Strontium was found by Irish chemist Adair Crawford in 1790 when Crawford was studying witherite. Strontium was first isolate by Sir Humphrey Davy in 1808. Today Strontium is found by treating Celestite and strontianite with hydrochloric acid creating Strontium chloride. Strontium chloride is then melted and electrolyzed creating Strontium and chlorine gas.

Today Strontium is mainly used in the manufacturing of color television picture tubes. Strontium is also used to refine zinc which is then combined with iron to make magnets. Two compounds of Strontium, Strontium carbonate and Strontium nitrate are used to make red fireworks and flares.

Strontium gets its name from the Scottish town of Strontian.

Fun facts: Strontium can be deadly. An isotope of Strontium called Strontium-90 is highly radioactive. When Strontium-90 is absorbed by the body it goes to the skeletal system, then the radiation stops the production of new blood cells, which causes death (Gagon, S).

Strontium was found in the red light district of 1700's London.

Strontium was the first element to show that something like the periodic table existed (pg. 126 ch.14).

Ruthenium (Ru)

Atomic number: 44

Mass: 101.07

Period: 5

Group: 8

Electron configuration: 1s2,2s2,2p6,3s2,3p6,4s2,3d10,4p6,5s2,4d6.

Transition metal

Ruthenium was discovered by Russian chemist Karl Karlovich Klaus in 1844. Ruthenium is usually found with platinum and is a byproduct of refining platinum and mining. Ruthenium is also found in a nickel mining operation in Ontario, Canada.

Today Ruthenium is primarily used as a alloying agent. Since Ruthenium is so strong small amounts are added to platinum and palladium. Then the platinum and the palladium are used to create jewelry and are used in electrical contacts that must resist wear.

Ruthenium gets its name from the Latin word for Russia, Ruthenia.

Fun facts: Ruthenium is so strong that adding 0.1% to titanium makes titanium 100 times more resistant to corrosion (Gagnon, S).

Ruthenium was used as the tip for the Parker 51 fountain pen, one of the most famous pens in history (pg. 128 ch. 14)

Radium (Ra)

Atomic number: 88

Mass: 226.03

Period: 7

Group: 2

Electron Configuration: 1s2 ,2s2, 2p6, 3s2, 3p6, 4s2, 3d10, 4p6, 5s2, 4d10, 5p6, 6s2, 4f14 5d10, 6p6,7s2.

Alkaline Earth Metal

Radium was discovered by Polish chemist Marie Curie and French chemist Pierre Curie in 1898. Curie discovered Radium when researching pitchblende, a material that contains uranium. Marie noticed that the separated pitchblende was more radioactive than the uranium. Marie refined tons of pitchblende to find small amounts of uranium. Today Radium can be found by refining uranium. Radium is usually sold as Radium chloride or Radium bromide. Recently Radium has been used to make self-luminous paints for watches and airplanes but has been replaced mostly with cobalt. Today Radium is used to make radon. Radon is a radioactive gas used to treat some types of cancers.

Radium is named after the Latin word for ray, radius.

Fun Facts: Only about 0.14 grams of Radium can be found in one ton of uranium ore.

There is a whole unit of measurment called the Curie that is based on an isotope of radium called radium-226. The Curie describes the activity of a radioactive substance (Gagnon, S).

In Mark Twain's story "Sold to Satin" Satin is made out of Radium (pg. 129 ch. 14).

Lithium (Li)

Atomic number: 3

Mass: 6.94

Period: 2
Group: 1

Electron Configuration: 1s2, 2s1.

Alkali Metal

Lithium was discovered by Johann August Arfvedson in 1817 in a mineral patallite. Lithium was first isolated by William Thomas Brande and Sir Humphrey Davy. Today Lithium is mostly found by the electrolysis of Lithium Chloride. Lithium is not found in nature. Today Lithium can be used to make heat transfer applications because of its high specific heat. Lithium can also be used to make special glasses and ceramics. Since Lithium is so light weight it is also used to make aircraft metals.

Lithium is named for the Greek word for stone, Lithos.

Fun facts: Lithium can be used as a drug to treat Manic Depressive Disorder (Gagnon, S).

Summary's help us wrap up!


In conclusion all elements are very important and tie into the arts in some way. Dysprosium and Praseodymium are the children of European aristocrats who practiced chemistry and literature (pg. 124 ch. 14). Strontium was the begging of the periodic table and gave the "Shakespeare of Germany" a name in science (pg.126 ch. 14). Ruthenium became the tip for one of the most used pens in history because of its durability (pg. 128 ch. 14). Radium helped mix science and literature in 1800's America after radium became the element of Satan's body (pg. 130 ch. 14). Lithium helped save a poet from insanity but also ruined his career, and his sleep schedule (pg. 132 ch. 14). All the elements in this chapter are important and all have changed art and science in some way.


Gagnon, S. (N/A) Dysprosium. Retrieved from

Gagnon, S. (N/A) Lithium. Retrieved from

Gagnon, S. (N/A) Radium. Retrieved from

Gagnon, S. (N/A) Ruthenium. Retrieved from

Gagnon, S. (N/A) Strontium. Retrieved from