Elements in Times of War

How the Periodic Table gets thrown into the war


While the use of elements for chemical warfare didn't become popular until World War One, we can trace chemical warfare back to the Spartans . This avant-garde technique ultimately failed due to inadequate knowledge about the elements. Overtime countries gained enough knowledge to develop Bromine Gas, a strong enough gas to make a man double over in crying. The only thing preventing countries from using these weapons was the Hague Convention, but, as usual with war pacts, it was shortly broken(Ch 5, pg. 81). It was one man who forever changed the face of chemical warfare.

Fritz Haber was one of the greatest minds in chemistry, he created Ammonia. Ammonia is a chemical necessary for fertilizers and Haber was able to trap Nitrogen using Osmium as a catalyst (Ch5, pg. 83). Haber however, was not satisfied by the weak power of Bromine, so he publicly pursued the creation of a Chlorine gas and in doing so driving all those around him away and causing his wife to commit suicide. Later he created Zyklon A, a pesticide, whose second generation would be used to kill millions of people in World War 2(Ch. 5, pg. 87).

These chemical weapons, while horrific, were not Germany's most feared weapons. During the war Germany manufactured "Big Berthas", weapons that could fling a 2,200 pound shell nine miles in seconds. The issue Germany faced with these weapons was the weakness of the barrel. German scientists learned that if you strengthened steel with molybdenum or tungsten, the melting temperature of the barrel would increase and the barrel would become stronger(Ch 5, pg. 88). The Germans found discovered a bankrupt mine within the United States and bought it, thus using American Metals to kill the Allies. As more and more people died, the Germans invented a Big Bertha using Tungsten leading to even more deaths because of the periodic table (Ch 5, pg. 91). The most recent blood bath for an element happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, where the elements Tantalum and Niobium can be found. Tantalum and Niobium are used to power cell phones and how easily these elements can be found have lead to "the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience"(Ch 5, pg. 97).

My elements.

The periodic table is the backbone to all technological advances. While the creations the periodic table allows us to make are neither good nor bad, it is what we use the creations for. From metal piercing tungsten, to the poisonous gases, all of these elements can be used to save lives, however in times of war the elements are used to slaughter millions.


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The Element Tantalum. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2016, from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele073.html

Scandium. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2016, from https://www.mineralseducationcoalition.org/minerals/scandium

The Element Scandium. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele021.html

The Element Tungsten. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2016, from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele074.html

The Element Molybdenum. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2016, from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele042.html

Chlorine Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2016, from http://www.softschools.com/facts/periodic_table/chlorine_facts/194/

The Element Chlorine. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2016, from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele017.html

The Element Osmium. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele076.html

Periodic Table of Elements: Los Alamos National Laboratory. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2016, from http://periodic.lanl.gov/76.shtml

Bromine Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2016, from http://www.softschools.com/facts/periodic_table/bromine_facts/213/

Bromine - Element information, properties and uses | Periodic Table. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2016, from http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/35/bromine

(n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2016, from http://www.cafepress.com/ scandium gifts

Facts about Bromine. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/bromine/basics/facts.asp


** For the test.