Periodic Table Display – Greencastle, Indiana - Atlas Obscura

Periodic Table Display

DePauw University
Greencastle, Indiana

Display that gathers the basic elements of the universe in one convenient location. 


There is something very appealing about the idea of having all of the building blocks of the universe gathered together in one convenient box. DePauw University has done just that with this periodic table display. Built by Theodore Gray and Max Whitby, it displays each element in its own six-inch cube. There are a few elements that can’t be included either due to danger to viewers or because they are too unstable for display; in these cases, the element is represented by a picture of the creators of the display.

While the table has some of the less radioactive elements, such as Uranium, the more radioactive ones, such as Californium, say simply, “If we had a visible quantity on display here, you would be dead.”

Since most of the metallic elements just look like gray lumps, posing little interest to viewers, Whitby and Gray went out of their way to include interesting uses, shapes and textures for each element. For example, the box for copper, Cu, consists of copper nails, copper wire, a cylinder of pure copper, and a native sample of copper found in Michigan.

One of the most delightful things about the display is seeing what some of the less common elements actually look like. Explosive potassium looks like a lump of putty, and who would guess that Bismuth is so pretty?

Know Before You Go

The display is at the top of the grand staircase in the Julian Science Center.

In partnership with KAYAK

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