A teenage science geek's quest to collect every element on the periodic table


Cheese-eatin’ surrender chemical!


I think Theodore Gray pretty much tops everyone else here. He has his own elements collection, he developed a phone app, “The Elements by Theodore Gray” (with images based on his collection, and which will play the Tom Lehrer song for you), AND he has a wooden periodic table he made himself.


Link to his table which is what I immediately thought of too.


It used to be used to power some pacemakers. So, hack into a bunch of medical records to identify who got them installed, and then dig up a bunch of graves, you should be able to find a few. (the isotope used was non-fissionable, sorry).

Alternatively, during the cold war, the US military used to use non-fissionable plutonium in thermoelectric generators for stuff like undersea submarine detection, IIRC. Just go diving around the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, you may get lucky and find a few still kicking around down there. for stuff like ultra-remote weather stations. Go poking around in the remotest parts of Alaska, you might get lucky, although don’t let anyone know you have it or men in black will come calling.

eta: seems the undersea submarine detectors are a confabulation my silly brain made up, sorry.

Other options for getting some I can think of would involve a bunch of government agents asking lots of questions with you in a cell somewhere, soldiers pointing loaded guns at you, and/or a high risk of death from plutonium poisoning, radiation sickness, or both.




How to get on a watchlist. Google ‘Where do I buy some plutonium’.

Bonus points if you have melanin in your skin, you might get swatted!


There’s probably some left in the thermocouple on Voyager but that’s possibly a bit far to go…


There’s at least half a dozen on the moon (one for each Apollo mission, maybe some more for various unmanned landers), but I was sticking to sources that it was possible to lay your hands on this year with today’s technology and equipment, so nothing off-Earth.

And all of those space program RTGs will still have plenty of Pu left in them - with a half life of 87 years, none of the plutonium RTGs made to date have lost as much as half of their plutonium 238.


If you want to take your chances, you could always head up to northern Siberia - the Russians powered a lot of lighthouses with RTGs.


Those lighthouses used Strontium 90, not Plutonium 238. The original comment was wondering how you’d get a sample of Plutonium for one’s element collection. As best I can tell, earth-based Plutonium RTGs were only produced by the US for military use. The link below mentions extremely remote weather stations in Alaska. I can’t find a source for my memory of undersea submarine detectors, bad memory :frowning:


As Randall admits in the video, he did google how to get Plutonium for another What If. For the most expensive thing that would fit in a shoebox. Hint, it’s not shoebox sized lump of plutonium, which is a terrible idea anyway.


I stand corrected. Then again, strontium-90 is nasty stuff in its own right.


Yeah, there are quite a few isotopes that need to come with a warning label, “not recommended for home collections.”


Smoke detector + time = uranium-233…


Not only can you find it, if you have a building you may be legally required to own some!


I have been looking for a German version of this song to the tune of Offenbach’s Cancan for several years know. I had a self-recorded tape with a recording aired by a German broadcaster which I gave to my teacher in school because I loved it so much and wanted it to be played to every student she would have. My memory said it was Franz Hohler, but his management responded to his own knowledge he never did a German version of Tom Lehrer’s song, to the Cancan or or other.

I can’t find it anywhere. The broadcaster also replied negatively. I can’t ask my teacher, because she long passed away.

If anyone can find this, give me a heads up.


That’d be so cool I’d even try to learn it…
Well, if it’s out there it’s bound to turn up on the internet sometime, somewhere.


Just cos of elements…


I am I know what Zone Mail Hour is means years old, so I have looked for this in dark corners of the net, even using C-beams sparkling from the shoulder of Orion. Nothing. I just found nothingness.

Unobtainium is easier to get, I presume (h/t @Robbo).


@pesco, you’ve seen Gray’s periodic table table, have you? I love the idea, and the result.

@DeeKay, @Tribune: just added the vids for further eye-catching. Gray pretty much nails it. That table is the most literal meta-level possible, I think.


Halte durch, Geologe!


what do you say if someone says is that your bismuth…
you say that’s none of your business