Mental Floss

Explore Google's Interactive Periodic Table

Caitlin Schneider
Screenshot / Screenshot

The periodic table is a staple of scientific learning, and as great as it is, it’s not exactly a hands-on learning tool—especially in comparison to the bubbling beakers, color-changing fluids, and pyrotechnics common in chemistry class experiments.

Now Google Research has re-imagined the 146-year-old chart with an interactive twist. The Periodic Table of the Elements is inspired by this diagram, which proportionally sizes the elements in accordance with how frequently they appear in Earth’s crust.

The Google visualization takes it a few steps further, sizing elements by their frequency inside the human body, Earth’s crust, sun, sea, and volume (where the elements are sized by cubic centimeters per gram). It also charts their mentions in books.

You can switch up the view mode, taking in the sites of the 118 elements via bars, cubes, or electron shells, illustrating how Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev's table reflects atomic structure.

If this had been around when I was in high school, I probably still would’ve gotten a B in chem—but memorizing the periodic table would’ve been a lot more interesting.