I had an old friend who once told me a learning aid for remembering one of earth’s primary element symbols. She said the way to remember Potassium was, “the pots are in the kitchen.” The symbol for Potassium is “K.” I thought it was fun, and clever, and most important, helpful, as all these years later, I still remember it. Had I know this, or her for that matter in my former past chemistry class-taking life, things may have gone a lot smoother. One day, several hours after being launched over the handlebars of my mountain bike, I got to thinking about how tough the body can really be. Mentally reviewing the physical structure of bones, combined with the softer side of blood, sweat and metaphorical tears of embarrassment, I went in search of information on what chemical, and elemental properties actually constitutes the human body. I expected to find the scientific data, but I didn’t expect to find the value of “hawking” my chemical body on the black market; if such thing exist! Organ donation, harvesting, and theft are a whole other story.
After the calculations are in, it turns out the monetary value of an 176lb / 80Kg body is about $160! The greatest worth, ounce for ounce, or kg for kg is Potassium (K) valued at $104. In comparison, the Gold (Au) in your body is worth 1 cent ($0.01) versus the most abundant element Oxygen (O) at $9.83. Such obscure information may lead to one of three thought conclusions; 1. Is there a Potassium bank where I could sell my “K?” 2. I always knew my “ex” was worthless, and number 3, I wonder if I sell my high school class ring, would I have enough money for a vacation in the Bahamas? Noting one last point of interest; despite the wait staff that dumped water in your lap, or your mother in law, calling them Helium, or Cement head would be less than accurate as those properties do not appear on the chart.
If you’re still reading this, you can’t be surprised to know that yes, I have a large framed poster of the Periodic Table of Elements hanging in my Kitchen; shocking, I know. When I hung it there, it was partly because it was big, and colorful, and fun, and filled with so much information that I still don’t fully understand even though I should after a few chemistry classes. In the spirit of honesty, I also hung it there because the wall space behind it wasn’t in such great shape at the time, and it helped block it. Along the way, I discovered something else. So many people at one time or another had seen the table, but most seemed to suppressed the memory like a bad visit to the dentist. When they see it hanging on the wall, they usually admit they know little, or nothing about it, and then a funny thing happens; they find one bit of information that “speaks” to them, and then they’re thrilled with the poster, sometimes in a not so purely scientific basis. My brother found his new favorite lottery number to play, 4779; a combination of Silver (Ag) Atomic Number 47, and Gold (Au) Atomic Number 49. Another friend after professing no knowledge of the Table excitedly blurted out “Hey, Scandium (Sc)!! They sometimes use that to make guns when sufficient Titanium (Ti) is not available.” I’m hoping the Table doesn’t turn out to be some springboard for evil, and “morally bankrupt” geniuses, but the bottom line is, the answers to life are all around us, if we’re only willing to look.
I wish I hadn’t had to go over the handlebars to find this out.