Chemistry featured highly on the 2006 IgNobel tour of the UK, run as part of National Science Week

Chemistry featured highly on the 2006 IgNobel tour of the UK, run as part of National Science Week. 

Marc Abrahams, organiser of the annual spoof IgNobel prizes, told Chemistry World that in this year’s tour ’chemistry will figure large in almost all the shows.’

On the London leg of the tour, Fiona Barclay from science production company The Red Green & Blue Company, presented the recent endeavours of her colleague US chemist Theo Gray, who won the IgNobel prize for chemistry in 2002 for inventing the periodic table table - an actual table shaped like the infamous chart and containing samples of the elements. The company has since collaborated with Gray to develop the brand. ’After the periodic table table, things got slightly out-of-hand,’ said Barclay, ’tables got bigger and bigger and got filled up with more and more chemicals.’


© Theodore Gray

Gray has also introduced a smaller periodic table for use in schools, with samples of the elements carefully encased.

In addition, Gray has been making video films of elements and their reactions. This included the effects of throwing a 200g piece of sodium into a lake, resulting in ’quite a big bang,’ recalled Barclay.

The periodic table is ’an object of some beauty’, Barclay said. ’My great ambition is to install a series of plasma screens of these videos [of the elements] in the Tate Gallery,’ she said.

Katharine Sanderson