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8 Creative Periodic Tables

The Periodic Table of the Elements is a wonderful aid in understanding chemistry, if you understand the reasons the elements are sorted the way they are. The table itself is a model of information classification. No wonder folks want to use this structure to classify other types of information -although science geeks can see right away whether the artist really understands the original table. That said, we can all enjoy periodic tables of items other than elements.

1. Advice Animals

In the past year or so, the internet has experienced a proliferation of image macro memes featuring animals giving (humorous but useless) advice. To keep up with the barrage, Know Your Meme constructed the Periodic Table of Advice Animals. This is a large table; only a small portion is shown here. And since it was published two-and-a-half weeks ago, there are probably newer memes that are not included.

2. Storytelling

DeviantART member Computer Sherpa made the Periodic Table of Storytelling for a Visual Design class. The shape differs a little from the periodic table of elements, but that's because this one really works for the purpose of classifying the elements of storytelling. Exploring the tropes in this table could cause you to miss work today, so you might want to save it for the weekend. Shown here is a screenshot taken from the middle of the table. You can buy this table as an art print.

3. Sandwichery

The Periodic Table of Sandwichery is an art poster containing instructions for making 58 different sandwiches. As far as I can tell, you'll have to buy one to actually read any of the ingredient lists, but I am always open to a new sandwich recipe!

4. Baseball Hall of Famers

The Periodic Table of Hall of Famers is headed by Babe Ruth on the left and Walter Johnson on the right. We only have room for a part of it here, but at Wezen-Ball, you can see that the full version classifies players as The Nobles, Highly Temperamental, The Radioactives, Relievers, 500 Home Run Club, 3000 Hits Club, Short-Lived, 300 Wins Club, Traditional, and Primarily Defense. Sports fans can argue all day about who belongs where.

5. Middle Class

The London creative agency Not Actual Size produced the Periodic Table of the Middle Class to promote The Middle Class Handbook, which explores how Britain's middle class is becoming fragmented into subcultures that coalesce around tastes instead of income level. Only a portion is shown here; luckily, the website includes an explanation for each "element."

6. Cookies

The last three periodic tables in this list are the original table of elements, with a twist. Mrs. Humble at Not So Humble Pie made cookies and arranged them into a periodic table! The resulting Science Cookies were a hit for Thanksgiving. She says cooking is a lot like chemistry.

Really the only difference is, in chemistry you never get to lick your spoons.

7. Building Blocks

Periodic Table Building Blocks are designed for science students from one to three years old, although adults love them as well. The twenty blocks contains all the elements, so you'd need to buy three sets in order to see them all at once, but that's not really necessary for learning the elements -or for building a baby fort!

8. The Periodic Coffee Table

The Periodic Coffee Table of Elements is expensive, but oh-so-impressive. The cells contain samples of the actual elements!

By embedding all element samples in clear acrylic, they are beautifully presented and also protected from tarnishing. This format also helps to addresses health and safety issues, as all potentially toxic or corrosive substances are permanently encased in a thick layer of robust resin. Argon gas and mineral oil is further used to ampoule reactive samples and preserve their freshly cut appearance. Individual acrylic blocks are available for sale, although read the shipping section carefully as some elements are costly to send internationally.

The table was designed in partnership with Theodore Gray, who produced the periodic table of elements as a pieces of furniture with element samples. Gray's original table was featured in the first post of this series.

Previously:

The earliest post on this subject, Periodic Tableware includes comic book characters, desserts, and funk music. And a couple of real tables you can work or eat at!

More Periodic Tableware covers those of candy, vegetables, website, and mathematicians. And don’t forget the periodic table shower curtain available in the mental_floss store!

8 Alternative Periodic Tables looked at the subjects of cupcakes, typefaces, printing projects, cartoons, video game characters, videos about the real elements, LEGO® bricks, and something called awesoments which will become clear when you take a look.

8 Odd Periodic Tables has tables for elephants, Chuck Norris, social media, game controllers, mixology, rejected elements, interacting elements, and vulgarity.

9 Strange Periodic Tables was heavy on food, as we looked at periodic tables of pumpkins, beer, Gummi Bears, Scoville Units, Canada, smellaments, a picnic table, and a periodic table of periodic tables.

8 Curious Periodic Tables covered Mad Men, rock-n-roll, breakfast cereals, cheese, herbs and spices, produce storage, super powers, and irrationality.

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Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
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holidays
8 Legendary Monsters of Christmas
Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Wolfgang via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

The customs of the holiday season, which include St. Nicholas Day, New Years Day, and Epiphany, as well as Christmas, often incorporate earlier pagan traditions that have been appropriated and adapted for contemporary use. Customs that encourage little children to be good so as to deserve their Christmas gifts often come with a dark side: the punishment you'll receive from a monster or evil being of some sort if you aren't good! These nefarious characters vary from place to place, and they go by many different names and images.

1. KRAMPUS

As a tool to encourage good behavior in children, Santa serves as the carrot, and Krampus is the stick. Krampus is the evil demon anti-Santa, or maybe his evil twin. Krampus Night is celebrated on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day in Austria and other parts of Europe. Public celebrations that night have many Krampuses walking the streets, looking for people to beat. Alcohol is also involved. Injuries in recent years have led to some reforms, such as requiring all Krampuses to wear numbers so they may identified in case of overly violent behavior.

Krampus may look like a devil, or like a wild alpine beast, depending on what materials are available to make a Krampus costume. In modern times, people can spend as much as they like to become the best Krampus around—and the tradition is spreading beyond Europe. Many cities in America have their own Krampus Nights now.

2. JÓLAKÖTTURINN

Jólakötturinn is the Icelandic Yule Cat or Christmas Cat. He is not a nice cat. In fact, he might eat you. This character is tied to an Icelandic tradition in which those who finished all their work on time received new clothes for Christmas, while those who were lazy did not (although this is mainly a threat). To encourage children to work hard, parents told the tale of the Yule Cat, saying that Jólakötturinn could tell who the lazy children were because they did not have at least one new item of clothing for Christmas—and these children would be sacrificed to the Yule Cat. This reminder tends to spur children into doing their chores! A poem written about the cat ends with a suggestion that children help out the needy, so they, too, can have the protection of new clothing. It's no wonder that Icelanders put in more overtime at work than most Europeans.

3. FRAU PERCHTA


Flickr // Markus Ortner

Tales told in Germany and Austria sometimes feature a witch named Frau Perchta who hands out both rewards and punishments during the 12 days of Christmas (December 25 through Epiphany on January 6). She is best known for her gruesome punishment of the sinful: She will rip out your internal organs and replace them with garbage. The ugly image of Perchta may show up in Christmas processions in Austria, somewhat like Krampus.

Perchta's story is thought to have descended from a legendary Alpine goddess of nature, who tends the forest most of the year and deals with humans only during Christmas. In modern celebrations, Perchta or a close relation may show up in processions during Fastnacht, the Alpine festival just before Lent. There may be some connection between Frau Perchta and the Italian witch La Befana, but La Befana isn't really a monster: she's an ugly but good witch who leaves presents.

4. BELSNICKEL

A drawing of Belsnickel.
Lucas, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Belsnickel is a male character from southwestern German lore who traveled to the United States and survives in Pennsylvania Dutch customs. He comes to children sometime before Christmas, wearing tattered old clothing and raggedy fur. Belsnickel carries a switch to frighten children and candy to reward them for good behavior. In modern visits, the switch is only used for noise, and to warn children they still have time to be good before Christmas. Then all the children get candy, if they are polite about it. The name Belsnickel is a portmanteau of the German belzen (meaning to wallop) and nickel for St. Nicholas. See a video of a Belsnickel visit here.

Knecht Ruprecht and Ru Klaas are similar characters from German folklore who dole out beatings to bad children, leaving St. Nicholas to reward good children with gifts.

5. HANS TRAPP

Hans Trapp is another "anti-Santa" who hands out punishment to bad children in the Alsace and Lorraine regions of France. The legend says that Trapp was a real man, a rich, greedy, and evil man, who worshiped Satan and was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. He was exiled into the forest where he preyed upon children, disguised as a scarecrow with straw jutting out from his clothing. He was about to eat one boy he captured when he was struck by lightning and killed—a punishment of his own from God. Still, he visits young children before Christmas, dressed as a scarecrow, to scare them into good behavior.

6. PÈRE FOUETTARD

The French legend of Père Fouettard, whose name translates to "Father Whipper," begins with an evil butcher who craved children to eat. He (or his wife) lured three boys into his butcher shop, where he killed, chopped, and salted them. St. Nicholas came to the rescue, resurrected the boys, and took custody of the butcher. The captive butcher became Père Fouettard, St. Nicholas' servant whose job it is to dispense punishment to bad children on St. Nicholas Day.

7. THE YULE LADS

The Jólasveinar, or Yule Lads, are 13 Icelandic trolls, who each have a name and distinct personality. In ancient times, they stole things and caused trouble around Christmastime, so they were used to scare children into behaving, like the Yule Cat. However, the 20th century brought tales of the benevolent Norwegian figure Julenisse (Santa Claus), who brought gifts to good children. The traditions became mingled, until the formerly devilish Jólasveinar became kind enough to leave gifts in shoes that children leave out ... if they are good boys and girls. 

8. GRÝLA

All the Yule Lads answer to Grýla, their mother. She predates the Yule Lads in Icelandic legend as the ogress who kidnaps, cooks, and eats children who don't obey their parents. She only became associated with Christmas in the 17th century, when she was assigned to be the mother of the Yule Lads. According to legend, Grýla had three different husbands and 72 children, all who caused trouble ranging from harmless mischief to murder. As if the household wasn't crowded enough, the Yule Cat also lives with Grýla. This ogress is so much of a troublemaker that The Onion blamed her for the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

A version of this post originally ran in 2013. See also: more Legendary Monsters

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History
84 Years Ago Today: Goodbye Prohibition!
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
Keystone/Getty Images

It was 84 years ago today that the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing the earlier Amendment that declared the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol illegal in the United States. Prohibition was over! Booze that had been illegal for 13 years was suddenly legal again, and our long national nightmare was finally over.


A giant barrel of beer, part of a demonstration against prohibition in America.
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Prohibition of alcohol was not a popular doctrine. It turned formerly law-abiding citizens into criminals. It overwhelmed police with enforcement duties and gave rise to organized crime. In cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis, the dismantling of breweries left thousands of people unemployed.


Photograph courtesy of the Boston Public Library

Homemade alcohol was often dangerous and some people died from drinking it. Some turned to Sterno or industrial alcohol, which was dangerous and sometimes poisoned by the government to discourage drinking. State and federal governments were spending a lot of money on enforcement, while missing out on taxes from alcohol.


New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (right) watches agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of Prohibition.

The midterm elections of 1930 saw the majority in Congress switch from Republican to Democratic, signaling a shift in public opinion about Prohibition as well as concerns about the depressed economy. Franklin Roosevelt, who urged repeal, was elected president in 1932. The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution was proposed by Congress in February of 1933, the sole purpose of which was to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment establishing Prohibition.


American men guarding their private beer brewing hide-out, during Prohibition.
Keystone/Getty Images

With passage of the Constitutional Amendment to repeal Prohibition a foregone conclusion, a huge number of businessmen lined up at the Board of Health offices in New York in April of 1933 to apply for liquor licenses to be issued as soon as the repeal was ratified.

The Amendment was ratified by the states by the mechanism of special state ratifying conventions instead of state legislatures. Many states ratified the repeal as soon as conventions could be organized. The ratifications by the required two-thirds of the states was achieved on December 5, 1933, when conventions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah agreed to repeal Prohibition through the Amendment.


Workmen unloading crates of beer stacked at a New York brewery shortly after the repeal of Prohibition.
Keystone/Getty Images

A brewery warehouse in New York stacked crates past the ceiling to satisfy a thirsty nation after the repeal of Prohibition.


Keystone/Getty Images

Liquor wouldn't officially be legal until December 15th, but Americans celebrated openly anyway, and in most places, law enforcement officials let them.

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