Chapter 15 An Element of Madness

By: Stella Fay


This chapter is about five elements which include manganese, selenium, palladium, barium, and roentgenium. This chapter went into detail about the people who discovered the elements selenium, palladium, and roentgenium. The author spoke of how some of these scientists went mad or overlooked key things in there scientific theories. This chapter speaks of false science such as the megladon tooth phenomenon where the manganese was so thin on some of the teeth that some megladons must still be alive today (pg 265).


  • Atomic number: 25, Atomic weight: 54.9, Electron configuration: 1s2, 2s2, 2p6, 3s2, 3p6, 3d5, 4s2, Group 7, Transition metal (Gagnon, 2016)
  • Discovered in 1774 by Johan Gottlieb Gahn, a Swedish chemist. (Gagnon, 2016)
  • Manganese dioxide, which is the most common compound of manganese makes up about .14% of the earths crust. So it is a naturally occurring element. (Gagnon, 2016)
  • 90% of manganese produced is used in steel products. Manganese is also used in glass products to give it a purple color. (Gagnon, 2016)
  • Manganese is also a key nutrient in pregnant women.
  • Manganese also encases megladon teeth at the bottom of the ocean (pg. 135)


  • Atomic number: 34, Atomic weight: 78.96, Electron configuration: 1s2, 2s2, 2p6, 3s2, 3p6, 3d10, 4s2, 4p4, Group 16, Halogen (Gagnon, 2016)
  • Discovered in 1817 by Jacob Berzelius (Gagnon, 2016)
  • Selenium is found in minerals like eucairite so it's naturally forming, but the minerals it's found in are too rare so the main source of selenium is found as a biproduct of of refining copper.
  • A unique characteristic of selenium is it's resistance to electricity is affected by the amount of light that shines on it. More light the better selenium conducts electricity. (Gagnon, 2016)
  • Selenium can also produce energy from sun light and is used in solar cells. (Gagnon, 2016)


  • Atomic number: 56, Atomic weight: 137, Electron Configuration: 1s2, 2s2, 2p6, 3s2, 3p6, 3d10, 4s2, 4p6, 4d10, 5s2, 5p6, 6s2, Group 2, Alkaline earth metal. (Gagnon, 2016)
  • Discovered in 1808 by Sir Humphry Davy (Gagnon, 2016)
  • Barium is never found in nature because it reacts with the oxygen in the air forming barium oxide. (Gagnon, 2016)
  • Barium is mostly found as the mineral barite, BaSO4. (Gagnon, 2016)
  • Barium nitrate is used as the green color in fireworks. Barium chloride is a water softener. (Gagnon, 2016)
  • Barium's main contribution to science is that it's a key element in the x-ray. Willhelm Rontgen was playing with a crookes tube one day in his lab and he coated it with barium to see what would happen, and by an accident he invented the x-ray (pg. 140).


  • Atomic number: 111, Atomic weight: 272, Electron configuration: 1s2, 2s2, 2p6, 3s2, 3p6, 3d10, 4s2, 4p6, 4d10, 4f14, 5s2, 5p6, 5d10, 5f14, 6s2, 6p6, 6d10, 7s1, Group 11, Transition metal. (RSC, 2016)
  • Discovered in 1994 by Peter Armbruster and Gottfried Muzenberg (RSC, 2016).
  • Originally named unununium was later in 2004 named roentgenium after the famous scientist who discovered the x-ray, Willhelm Rontgen (RSC, 2016)
  • Roentgenium is one of the largest element on the periodic table (RSC, 2016).
  • This element is made artificially in a lab. They first succeeded in producing 3 atoms of roentgenium-272. The life span of these atoms were 1.5 milliseconds. (RSC, 2016)
  • The longest living isotope of roentgenium, roentgenium-281, lasted 22.8 seconds.


  • Atomic number: 46, Atomic weight: 106.4, Electron configuration: 1s2, 2s2, 2p6, 3s2, 3p6, 3d10, 4s2, 4p6, 4d10, Group 10, Transition metal (Los Alamos, 2016)
  • Discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston (Los Alamos, 2016)
  • Named for the asteroid Pallas and the Greek goddess of wisdom (Los Alamos, 2016)
  • Found alongside with platinum and other such metals in Russia, North America, Ethiopia, Australia, and South America (Los Alamos, 2016)
  • At room temperature palladium absorbs 900 times its own volume of hydrogen. It may be forming Pd2H, but that is not know yet. (Los Alamos, 2016)
  • Palladium is used in jewelry and is used for hydrogenation and dehyrdrogenation reactions (Los Alamos, 2016)


This chapter really delved into the contributions of these elements. Without barium we wouldn't have the x-ray. Without manganese we wouldn't have discovered megladon teeth. Without palladium Pons and Fleischmann wouldn't have come up with their, false, cold fusion theorum. Without selenium we wouldn't have more efficient solar cells for solar panels. Roentgenium was just a lab made element, but it was pretty cool. Each element has its own background and contribution to the world.