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How to memorize the whole periodic table

Just as some math geeks strive to memorize pi to 1,000 places (or in the case of British savant and mental_floss bloggee Daniel Tammet, several thousand places), there are science geeks who strive to memorize the periodic table. (Granted, the periodic table has a finite amount of information, whereas pi does not. But still, it's a daunting task.) To help get your keyboards sharpened for our periodic table quiz later this week, here are some tips on how you can commit the whole shebang to memory (and thus pass with flying colors):

"¢ Of course, long mnemonic sentences can help you remember the names of the elements, like Hi! He Lies Because Boron CanNot Oxide Fluoride (for the first nine elements H, He, Li, Be, Bo, C, N, O and F) or New Nation Might Also Sign Peace Security Clause for the eight elements following.

"¢ What's harder is memorizing the other periodic table data, like the elements' number, valence, mass etc. But thememorypage.net has a cool method for remembering long strings of numbers, by converting them to words, which you can then string together into sentences! Check it out:

Suppose we assigned each of the digits 0 through 9 to a consonant. Then, when we want to remember a number, we convert the number into consonants, insert vowels, and form a word. This word can then be used to form an association much more readily, rather than trying to use the number itself.

As an example, suppose we want to remember that the Old Testament has 39 books, and suppose 3 and 9 translated into M and P, respectively. We could then insert the vowel A between the consonants to come up with the word "map". We would then visualize a huge map in front of us, with the Mediterranean Sea, Israel, Egypt, Mt. Sinai, etc.: a nice map of the Old Testament. Two weeks later we want to remember how many books were in the Old Testament. We recall that huge map with all the places on it. MAP... consonants are M and P... that's 3 and 9. 39! We did it! That's sort of a roundabout way of doing it, but it works, because of the associations.

Now that you've got that down, study up and get ready for our upcoming quiz! (Oh, and don't forget to study the history and fun trivia behind all those elements either; that'll definitely come in handy.)

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Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
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Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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