Periodic table gets a makeover
December 17th, 2010
02:39 PM ET

Periodic table gets a makeover

Remember memorizing the periodic table in high school? Well, forget it. Some information on the table is about to be reset.

The world's top chemists and physicists have determined that the atomic weights of 10 elements - ones you've actually heard of - need to be expressed as an interval (or range) rather than a static number, Science Daily reports.

The new atomic weights of hydrogen, lithium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon, sulfur, chlorine and thallium will more accurately reflect how those elements occur in nature.

"For example, sulfur is commonly known to have a standard atomic weight of 32.065. However, its actual atomic weight can be anywhere between 32.059 and 32.076, depending on where the element is found," the article explains.

The change will take effect in 2011, designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Chemistry, according to Science Daily.

No word yet from CBS on whether the changes will require major rewrites of upcoming episodes of "The Big Bang Theory."

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Filed under: Nature • Science
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Fred Bartkowski

    Working at Mcdonalds won't pay for gas to get to Mcdonalds and back.

    December 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Thomas

    Well, Fred, thats one way of looking at physics. .

    December 17, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy

    Dang! And I FINALLY memorized the table after 10 years!

    December 17, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Huh?

    Why would anyone want to memorize that?

    December 17, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kolorblindd

    Because some people prefer to devote their braincells to that sort of knowledge, rather than to allocating it towards knowing who or what a Snooki or Situation might be....

    December 17, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lakawak

      It doesn't make you ANY more intelligent to memorize the periodic table if you have no career reasons to than to memorize anything else. Your choice of hobby does NOT make you superior to anyone else. And the fact that you implied that it does pretty much proves that you not not superior to anyone.

      December 18, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim6Class

      Believe it or not for all the lay-men out there ... this slight difference; especially in the common elements listed in the article, can have a profound difference. While it may seem insignificant to argue over 0.001 g/mol ... the implications can be monumental.

      December 18, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Judge

    i just don't see how memorizing the periodic table would be useful, other than for individual careers. This is important (i guess) For Science and scientists, but i personally don't care. Just like when they changed Pluto's planetary status.

    December 17, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. kimski

    Nice to see the geeks are on top of it.

    December 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jam

    Well the nerds knew about this months ago. now our kids will memorize a whole new pain in the bum in science class.do they have an app for that?

    December 17, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ultramafic

    The table in the picture is out of date- it doesn't show Copernicium.

    December 17, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rocket Scientist

    It doesn't show Unobtanium either...

    December 17, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Emma

    I am a chemist and I never memorized the entire table – that is why we have it at hand everywhere.

    December 17, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ProtoMan

    I was already taught this a little over a year ago. The weight that's printed is the average of all the different weights. It's in our text books too @ the college level. I bet if you told all the doped up dummies they could use chemistry to invent drugs they might have an interest in it. Tim Leary used to tell people to tune in, turn on and drop out, but he had many degrees. You don't think God rains LSD down from heaven do you? Ecstasy is also made using chemistry.

    December 17, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jet Intanai

    Aside from Meth, LSD and Ecstasy, these elements are used in nearly EVERY SINGLE man made product. If we don't know the factual properties of them, they ways we should mix them together, the temperatures we "cook" them at, how they interact with each other when mixed (e.g. could certain ones become poisonous when mixed, explosive?, carcinogenic?, etc.). I'm not being facetious or sarcastic. I really believe that 99% of the population doesn't think about or care where everything that they use comes from. Well, it certainly doesn't come from magic. It comes from very smart people who have to pay VERY close attention to these atomic weights (and their fluctuations) in order to keep stuff safe. (Imagine all the toxic products that have come from China over the last couple of years. THAT'S EXACTLY why this is important).

    December 17, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stinky

      They are elements. EVERYTHING, including the drugs you mentioned, is composed of them.

      January 5, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. Laurette

    My worst repeating nightmare is that of sitting in my college chemistry class being bored to death AND not having a clue. But Hurrah for all of the nerds out there that cook up all of our fabulous chemicals that keep this planet spinning.

    December 18, 2010 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  15. jaspermax

    Thanks to "Hypersonic Weight Loss" I feel young again! I lost 100 lbs in 31 weeks, which was 12 lbs more than my goal!

    December 18, 2010 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
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