An Element of Madness

Chapter 15 by Sam Keen - Zachary Mclean

Big image


Atomic Number: 34

Mass: 78.96

Group: 16

Family: 4

Electron configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p4

Classification: Other non-metal

Location: Chile, United States, and Peru

Selenium is mostly found as a byproduct of refining Copper(Gagnon, 2015). It was first discovered in 1817. Selenium's resistance to the flow of energy depends on how much sunlight is shining on it(Gagnon,2015). This makes Selenium very useful in things such as photocells, electric eyes, and light meters. Selenium is found in elements such as eucairite( CuAgSe) and crooksite(CuThSe)(Gagnon,2015). One of Selenium's other characteristics is that it electricity straight from sunlight, which is why it is also used in solar cells. Selenium is also a semiconductor and is used in some solid-state electronics(Gagnon,2015). Selenium was discovered by a scientist named Jons Jacob Berzelius.


Atomic Number: 25

Mass: 54.938045

Group: 7

Family: 4

Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d5

Classification: Transition Metal

Location: China, Africa, Australia, and Gabon

Manganese is one of the most common metals found in the Earths crust. Manganese was discovered in 1774 by Johan Gottlieb Gahn, but was proposed by Carl Wilhelm Scheele earlier that year to be an element(Gagnon,2015). Close to 90% of Manganese is used in the production of steel(Gagnon,2015). It is added to the molten steel to get rid of oxygen and sulfur. Manganese is also used to remove green color from glass when iron contaminants are in the glass Manganese is also in pyrolusite( MnO2)(Gagnon,2015).


Atomic Number: 46

Mass: 106.42

Group: 10

Family: 5

Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d10 4p6 4d10

Classification: Transition Metal

Location: Russia, South America, North America, Ethiopia, and Australia

Palladium was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. It is named after the asteroid Pallas, which was found around the same time as palladium(Los Alamos,2016). Palladium does not tarnish in air and is a silvery metal. When cold worked it greatly increases the strength of this metal(Los Alamos,2016). Palladium can also at room temperature absorb up to 900 times its own volume in hydrogen(Gagnon,2015). Palladium is also used in jewelry. Specifically in white gold. White gold is gold that is decolorized when palladium is added to it(Gagnon,2015). Palladium is normally found with deposits of nickel, gold, copper, silver, platinum, and gold(Gagnon,2015). It is also used to make surgical instruments and dental fillings. One palladium compound is palladium dichloride(PdCl2)(Gagnon,2015).


Atomic Number: 56

Mass: 137.327

Group: 2

Family: 6

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

Classification: Alkaline Earth Metal

Location: United States and Europe

Barium was first discovered by Sir Humphry Davy in 1808(Gagnon,2015). Barium is never found free in the environment because it reacts with water and air, but it can found in barite( BaSO4)(Gagnon,2015). Barium is used for X-rays and as a material that gets out trace gases from vacuum hoses(Friedman,2016). It is also in bologna stones(Friedman2016). These stones will glow in the dark for up to 6 years if intensely heated. Barium is also used to make ceramic and also some types of glass(Gagnon,2015). All barium compounds are also poisonous.


Atomic Number: 111

Mass: 281

Group: 11

Family: 7

Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p6 4d10 4f14 5s2 5p6 5d10 5f14 6s2 6p6 6d10 7s1

Location: None

Roentgenium was first produced in 1994(Gagnon,2015). It was made in Darmstadt, Germany by Peter Armbruster, Gottfried Munzenber, and their team(Gagnon,2015). They were working at the Gesellschaft fur Schwerionenforschung(Gagnon,2015). They made Roentgenium by bombarding atoms of bismuth- 209 with ions of nickel-64(Gagnon,2015). This made only three atoms of Roentgenium-272 that had a half-life of 1.5 milliseconds(Gagnon,2015). Roentgenium has no uses since only a few atom of Roentgenium have ever been made. The most stable isotope of Roentgenium is Roentgenium-281, which has a half-life of 26 seconds(Gagnon,2015). Roentgenium decays using spontaneous fission.


Chapter 15 in the disappearing spoon is named an element of madness, and for good reason. The chapter starts off talking about a scientist named William Crooks. He was the first od sixteen children and at the age of just 31 years old had done enough science to be let into The Royal Society( ch15, pg133). He ended up going crazy after the death of his brother. The chapter goes into talking about his madness and how he wrote a science journal on spiritualism. then it goes on to talk about how 2 scientist by the names of Pons and Fleischmann went through the best times of their lives, then the worst. They claimed to have found cold fusion and to have solved the worlds energy problems effectively and without pollution using palladium( ch15, pg138). it turns out that the two scientist had used faulty measuring techniques and had overlooked experimental flaws.


Most of these elements are used in a lot of house hold items. A lot more than you would really expect. These five random elements are a lot more important than they may seem. Selenium is used in street lamps that come on automatically and also in solid state electronics so in computers hard drives. Palladiums is used to make jewelry. Barium is used when taking X-rays and to get gases out of vacuum hoses. Manganese is used in up to 90% of all steel production and keeps glass from being green. So these elements are used in a wide range of products that are used in everyday life. Selenium is also in this chapter for sure because after being exposed to it for long periods of time it can mess with your brain


Gagnon, S.(2015).The Element Selenium. Retrieved from

Gagnon, S.(2015).The Element Manganese. Retrieved from

Gagnon, S.(2015).The Element Palladium. Retrieved from

Gagnon, S.(2015).The Element Barium. Retrieved from

Gagnon, S.(2015).The Element Roentgenium. Retrieved from

Minerals Education Coalition(2016).Copper. Retrieved from

Los Alamos(2016).Palladium. Retrieved from

Friedman, H.(2016). The Mineral Barite. Retrieved from

Wikipedia(2015). The Disappearing Spoon. Retrieved from