Chemical Galaxy

We have all met the periodic table at some time in our education. We might have found it puzzling, interesting, useful, but probably not entertaining. Well, it was entertaining this lunch time – at least the Chemical Galaxy version designed by Philip Stewart and realised by Carl Wenczek.

As one of our make: series of short sessions showcasing creativity with technology in teaching and learning, we invited Philip to tell the story of his Chemical Galaxy. I was surprised to hear that there have been a number of attempts to escape from the usual tabulation of elements we are familiar with from our science lessons, and we saw the culmination in Philip’s image. You can see it too at; it has been acclaimed all over the world, by chemists and lay persons alike.

Philip is a retired lecturer of Oxford University’s Plant Sciences department; he originally studied Arabic and Forestry. Carl, who created the image based on Philip’s idea, is a digital illustrator, more at home creating realistic visualisations of buildings. Neither are chemists. Perhaps that tells us something – sometimes we are too entrenched in our own views and we need an ‘outsider’ to show us a new way.

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