Talk:Chemical elements

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 Definition In one sense, refers to species or types of atoms, each species/type distinguished by the number of protons in the nuclei of the atoms belonging to the species/type, each species/type having a unique number of nuclear protons; in another sense, refers to substances, or pieces of matter, each composed of multiple atoms solely of a single species/type. [d] [e]
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 Talk Archive 1  English language variant American English

Re-start of Chemical elements

I replaced Chemical elements with the Sebastian sandbox version, with agreement of those major parties involved in the conflicted issues. See Talk pages sections above for more information.

Milton Beychok suggests that future "major" revisions receive thorough discussion on the Talk page prior to incorporation, and that even some minor revisions merit a sentence or two on the Talk page. Neither includes adding source citations.

Quoting Milton: " May I suggest that any future "major" revisions follow the same procedure of first being thoroughly discussed on the Talk page? Obviously, minor copy edits, style revisions, additional references, etc. need not be first discussed. But even then a sentence or two on the Talk page explaining even such minor changes can be most useful especially when made by Citizens who are not Chemistry or Physics Editors."

If no objections I will archive the current Talk page for the re-start, except for this entry.

Please join in the collaboration of this core chemistry article.

Anthony.Sebastian 18:28, 27 July 2009 (UTC)

Plan to remove glossary from main article page

I don't believe that I have ever seen a Glossary in any other CZ article. In my opinion, it is not needed here ... and if it were needed, it would best be located in a new subpage. At present it only includes two terms and only one of them is defined. Unless there is substantial objection, I plan to remove the Glossary. Milton Beychok 18:29, 27 July 2009 (UTC)

Milton, for a core chemistry article, especially thinking of non-chemists, I believe a glossary helpful. Could we move it to a subpage and see how it develops, whether all consider it then a useful addition. We can always delete it later. Anthony.Sebastian 18:33, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
Milton, examples of articles with subpage entitled 'Glossary':
Some articles put 'Glossary' as a section under subpage 'Related articles' (not cool, IMHO)
Financial economics
Anthony.Sebastian 19:15, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
If we believe that the words "Matter" and "Substance" need a definition then they should be linked in the main article text. For example, are you aware that there is a very good existing article that defines "Matter" and linking to it would provide readers (chemists or non-chemists) with a complete explanation. One of the purposes of linking words is to provide an incentive to write new articles for those words which appear as red links. It seems to me that if we start creating Glossaries in main article pages, it would be counter-productive to that purpose.
As for creating a sub-page, if there were a very large number of special "jargon" words needing definition, then a Glossary subpage might be warranted ... but not for just for 2 words or even a dozen words. Both of the two articles you referred to above, (Bankruptcy and Economics), have what appears to be over a hundred words in their Glossaries and most of them could just as well have been in the Related Articles subpages. Milton Beychok 19:37, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
Anthony, now that I have taken the time to look more closely at Bankruptcy, its Related Articles subpage was produced by some robot and contains articles having absolutely nothing to do with the article ... but the Glossary has dozens upon dozens of very pertinent subjects ... many of which are red links and many of which are blue links. It is obvious to me that the Glossary subpage of that article really should be moved to the Related Articles subpage. The same also appears to be true, to a lesser extent, of the Economics article. Milton Beychok 21:07, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
Milton, as to number of words in glossary, I did not intend it to remain at two, but to grow in number as needed as the article developed. I distinguish between that "needed" and that "not needed, but helpful to the reader". By helpful, I include many things that make it easier for the reader. Not all readers will be chemists or scientists. Regarding CZ's matter article, it does not do what it would need to do for a chemistry article, especially one on chemical elements. Chemists use 'matter' in the sense of anything having mass and occupying space, which differs from the physicists perspective, as in Matter. Note the precise wording I employed to enable a non-scientist reader to understand matter from a chemist's perspective. That will become clear when I flesh out the definition of 'substance', critical in IUPAC's second conceptual sense of 'chemical element'. Chemists define 'substance' in terms of 'matter' in the chemist's sense of 'matter' As a teacher, I strongly argue for a glossary for Chemical elements, wherever located &mdash as a teacher.
Anthony, if CZ were to accept your point of view on this, it would mean that all technical articles (be they chemistry, economics, biology, physics, engineering, mathematics, earth science, astronomy) would need a Glossary sub-page for the non-technical readers. Before adopting such an all-encompassing position, I believe that a proposal would need to be made to the Editorial Council and voted upon.
Meanwhile, I have created a Related Articles subpage for this article and populated it with links to existing articles, including Allotrope, Atom (science), Atomic number, Chemical compound, Elementary charge, Matter, Periodic Table of Elements, Proton and Substance. In other words, I am deleting the Glossary section from the main article and moving its two words to the Related Article subpage. As you can see in the Related Articles subpage, all of those 9 articles (except for Substance already exist and their definitions are listed ... so it is really a Glossary in effect and there is no need for a separate Glossary subpage. Milton Beychok 23:36, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
Milton, in my judgment, CZ´s erudite article on ´matter´ has little pedagogic value for a non-scientist, or science student, trying to understand how chemists understand and use the concept of matter and substance. It starts with: "Matter is defined as the substance of which physical objects are composed." It does not define ´substance´, and CZ has no article Substance. So the definition lacks information. Besides, matter is a more fundamental concept than substance, so the latter should be defined in terms of the former, not the other way around. Substances, like iron ingots and pools of water, are composed of matter, the kinds of matter we call iron and water.
CZ's article Matter does not state that matter is anything that takes up space and has mass, and that substances have the particularity of being different kinds of matter – the chemist´s perspective. What´s a poor struggling encyclopedia-inquirer to do? How will she understand the IUPAC´s definition of ´chemical element´ as a substance, a kind of matter, composed solely of a single species of atoms, if we do not define ´matter´ and ´substance´ the way the physical and applied chemists do. Let´s make it easier for her with a glossary of terms. She won´t find joy in Matter and the nonexistent Substance. Anthony.Sebastian 00:41, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
Anthony, if you feel that a Substance (chemistry) article is needed, then the proper thing to do is to write such an article ... and not to to try piggybacking it on this article. And if you feel that the existing Matter article does not reflect the chemist's definition of "matter", then you should write a Matter (chemistry) article instead of trying to piggyback it on this article. Alternatively, you could approach Paul Wormer and David Volk to collaborate with you in editing the existing Matter article so that it satisfactorily defines "matter" from both the physics viewpoint and the chemistry viewpoint.
I remain strongly opposed to piggybacking such articles on this one whether it be by a Glossary sub-page or by attaching lengthy quotes or annotations to selected references. Milton Beychok 01:31, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
Milton, I will take your advice and write Matter (chemistry) and same for substance. Anthony.Sebastian 14:59, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Re archiving this Talk page

Any objections to archiving the segment of this Talk above this and the two preceding sections? Anthony.Sebastian 19:20, 27 July 2009 (UTC)

No objection at all. Milton Beychok 19:37, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
Great. Now I have to learn how to do it. Haven't found the pertinent help page yet. Anthony.Sebastian 21:28, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
Anthony, if you will ask Matt Innis, Joe Quick or Drew Smith to do the archiving, I am sure they will do it for you. Milton Beychok 01:35, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Deletion of the excessive and unnecessary annotation for Reference 8

I removed this article from my watchlist sometime ago and hence did not see the reference 8 (N.E. Holden's presentation to the 41st IUPAC General Assembly) added by Anthony Sebastion on September 24th. The reference includes:

  1. The author's name and date of the presentation, the title of the presentation, and a hyperlink to a PDF of the complete presentation available on the Internet. It then includes a brief sentence explaining that the presentation was made to the 41st IUPAC General Assembly. (At this point, the reference is formatted properly and contains all of the information usually provided in such references.)
  2. The reference then includes a second hyperlink to the identical PDF document for which a link has already been provided. That redundancy is not required.
  3. The reference then includes a lengthy quotation from Holden's presentation which is not needed. The readers can easily go to the PDF and read the complete presentation.
  4. Finally, the reference includes a Table of Contents of the various sections of the PDF document.

The net result is a reference that contains 12 lines of text including 4 levels of bulleted items. I cannot recall ever seeing such a lengthy reference in a reference here in CZ, in Wikipedia or any journal or book that I have read. Just imagine what a reference list would look like if this were done for all references!

Therefore, I have decided to exercise my authority as a Chemistry Editor and I am deleting items 2, 3 and 4 above.

Normally, I would have simply made the deletions with perhaps a very brief explanation in my edit summary. However, a lengthy annotation of this sort in this article occurred earlier and was deleted after discussion between Anthony and myself in the archived section of this Talk page, I felt a detailed explanation was needed in this case.

Anthony, you may of course ask Paul Wormer and David Volk, who are also Chemistry Editors, to review my decision. That is your perogative. Milton Beychok 05:51, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

Deletion of the excessive annotation for Reference 4

The excessive annotation of this reference (Atkin's book General Chemistry) by Anthony Sebastian is identical with the annotation I deleted from from reference 4 on July 27th after much discussion back and forth with Anthoney Sebastion. I was under the impression that he finally acquiesced and it was settled without my exercising my authority as a Chemistry Editor. I was evidently wrong, because Anthony has reinserted the excessive annotation.

Accordingly, this time I am exercising my authority and deleting the excessive annotation again. Atkin's book is readily available in most libraries and there is no need to include a lengthy bit of content from the book.

As noted in my remarks on reference 8 above, just imagine what a reference list would look like if all references were annotated to this extent.

Again, you may review my decision with Paul Wormer and David Volk who are also Chemistry Editors. That is your perogative. Milton Beychok 05:51, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

I saw the lengthy quote by Atkins. This quote doesn't add anything new, there are millions of books out there that say something similar. We have this old-fashioned (fuzzy and non-unique) definition of "chemical element" already in the article, why would we need a confirmation of it by an overrated bestseller writer (known among professional physical chemists for the many errors in his many textbooks)?--Paul Wormer 06:23, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
Though I am not a chemist, I fully agree. I would object to similar usage in mathematics or physics, as well. (The situation might be different in humanities, but I doubt even this.) I even suggest to remove both references. Paul says that Atkins is a popular book -- a secondary or tertiary source is not a suitable reference for a definition. Concerning reference 8, a trivial statement like "the names of the elements are of historical origin" requires no footnote. It is enough to list the book in the bibliography. By the way, the comments there are also much overdone, they read like publisher's blurb, not as annotations helping to find the best literature. Peter Schmitt 09:38, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
Paul and Peter, thank you for your comments. Milton Beychok 15:18, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

Annotating Bibliography Entries

Milton: The heading on the Bibliography subpage states: "Please sort and annotate in a user-friendly manner." My annotations of the bibliographic entries that I entered, which you deleted, I designed specifically for user-friendliness. I had the reader in mind throughout the annotation process, which took hours of my time, deleted in an instant. You would not allow such annotations in the reference section of the main article. I had hoped you would allow them on the Bibliography subpage. I feel you have deleted useful information for the reader, information that might very well have encouraged the reader to consult the bibliographic entries by describing and illustrating what they could provide. The annotations on a subpage in no way damage the main article. Respectfully, I feel you have denied the reader something of value. Where can I give the reader that information? Apparently nowhere in the article. As a teacher, I feel very frustrated. As a three-year contributor to Citizendium I find for the first time that my sincere efforts to deliver quality content to the reader restricted by an Editor. I cannot tell you how discouraged I feel. Anthony.Sebastian 02:26, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

I regret that you feel discouraged, but the annotations to those bibliography entries were even more lengthy than your annotations of the references. One of them was practically a separate article unto itself. My edit summary reads: Deleted grossly excessive annotation for same reasons discussed on main article's Talk page re references 4 & 8. Annotation for the link to a periodic table was almost a separate article unto itself.
I don't believe that the subpage heading of "Please sort and annotate in a user-friendly manner" anticipated or expected anyone to intrepret it to mean such grossly excessive annotations.
Anthony, I note on your user page that you have published dozens of papers in peer-reviewed journals. I don't have access to any of them but I am fairly sure that most, if not all, of those journals had certain rules about the formatting of references and bibliographies ... and that they would not have allowed lengthy annotations such as you seem to be prone to writing. Again, I regret that you feel frustrated with me, but I assure you there is nothing personal about my edits. I believe that I am just performing my duties as an Editor. If you have read the above comments by Paul Wormer and by Peter Schmitt, you will see that I am not alone in believing that such lengthy annotations are unwarranted. Both Paul and Peter are also CZ editors ... Paul is a retired university professor and Peter is an active university professor and one must assume that both of them are or were teachers like yourself. Milton Beychok 03:28, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
I very much appreciate your efforts to be reader-friendly. Therefore I feel that I have to explain, at least briefly, why I completely agree with Milton:
  • Holden "surveys (alphabetically) the origin of the names given to the chemical elements". Why don't you say this in your annotation instead of cryptically saying "'Origin' here refers to the 'origin of discovery' on Earth", adding a lengthy quote that says nothing about the paper, and giving subject headings which are only of interest if one reads the paper?
  • Trapp is "a (very) nicely made site providing detailed historical accounts on the chemical elements". Why do you copy the mission statement of the site and some of its internal links?
  • Jefferson Lab "provides (brief) information on the properties, the uses, and the history of the chemical elements". Why do you want to reproduce the instruction how to use the site, and why to you reproduce one entry?
You should bear in mind that being "reader-friendly" also includes to be brief: Giving more information than needed means that the reader has to read more and might easily miss the important part(s). Peter Schmitt 10:09, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Milt and Peter, but noticed in the part of the bibliography, which is now gone, some interesting facts that could go into the articles of some of the elements. Anthony, why don't you start, for instance, an article on vanadium? (I'm working on transition elements). Or add something to Periodic Table of Elements#History? --Paul Wormer 15:16, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

(Unindent) Milton, Peter, and Paul: I tremendously respect each of you, from whom I continually learn, both of natural science and CZ-mechanics. As you undoubtedly know, I contribute content to CZ in Biology, Health Sciences, and in numerous other workgroups. I have taken to the wiki mode of writing for many reasons, in particular because it allows me more freedom of style than writing peer-reviewed research papers, review articles, editorials and the like (which I nevertheless continue to write). I love the freedom to include text-boxes, blockquotes, epigraphs, color, and such. I also like the freedom to include editorial-type notes in the reference section, which many journals do not permit, and to annotate source citations for the convenience and edification of the reader. Those latter two mechanisms I have extensively employed in the CZ articles I have initiated and developed over the past three years, as well as the articles to which I have contributed but did not initiate, often with what you all would label excessively long notes/annotations. Not to pat myself on the back, I tell you I work hard to select and prepare those 'long' notes/annotations. I accede to your proscription of 'long' notes/annotations in the reference section of the main article, but very much regret the proscription of them also on the Bibliography subpage. In my view they add value for the reader and do no real injury to the overall contribution led by the main article. Nevertheless, Editors have the last word.

Paul: I did think that once we more fully developed Chemical element I would start an article on a specific element, and I like your suggestion of vanadium, as I also know a little about its biological role and would like to learn more through the process of writing about it. When a server-person asks me whether I want fresh ground pepper on my salad I always reply yes, that I need the vanadium. If only you could slow down the clock. Anthony.Sebastian 21:29, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Anthony, I am sorry that feel suppressed. It is not the length of your annotations that I reject (I can imagine lengthy annotations). But you have not convinced us that, in this case, they add value for the reader. (I have tried to explain my reasons.)


The official IUPAC names are a compromise between British (caesium, aluminium) and American (sulfur). The article imposes American spellings for all. Peter Jackson 09:22, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Why this encyclopædia doesn't follow IUPAC nomenclature is puzzling. Meg Ireland 10:51, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Meg, I prepared the tables and I wasn't aware that I didn't follow IUPAC nomenclature, my mistake. Hopefully this confession solves your puzzle. I'm in favor of following standards, so please make corrections everywhere where I went wrong (i.e., deviated from the standard). --Paul Wormer 15:51, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
It's not your fault Paul. The articles in question were created by others. They are going to have to be renamed to conform to IUPAC standards. Meg Ireland 00:54, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

How many chemical elements possible?

Many years ago I read an essay by Asimov suggesting you could have substantially larger nuclei with a toroidal structure. Peter Jackson 09:44, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

Interesting, Peter. I wonder whether a toroidal nucleus could develop naturally, or whether nature would sustain an artificial one.
I wonder also what the implications/possibilties/advantages of stable atoms with Z>150. Anthony.Sebastian 05:47, 3 September 2011 (UTC)