• Question: what is your least favorite element on the periodic table and why

    Asked by liammchogg10 to Alan, Ciorsdaidh, Lauren, Leonie, Martin, Neil, Shuo on 6 Mar 2018.
    • Photo: Leonie Bole

      Leonie Bole answered on 6 Mar 2018:

      I don’t think I have a least favourite element as they all play such an important role in our lives and the universe as a whole! However, when it comes to my chemistry, oxygen can be a bit of pain! It tends to decompose a lot of the compounds that I work with.

    • Photo: Alan McCue

      Alan McCue answered on 7 Mar 2018:

      As someone who works with catalysts I have a love/hate relationship with the element sulphur. Sometimes it can be very bad for a catalyst (it acts as poison in the same way that some chemicals make you sick if you ingest them). However, on some occasions sulphur can be really good for a catalyst and make them work better. It is difficult to predict though so it can be frustrating…

    • Photo: Lauren Webster

      Lauren Webster answered on 7 Mar 2018:

      Least favourite…mmm…I would say tin!!!! I have used tin in a reaction that reduces a group called a nitro. The reagent, although very toxic, is excellent for doing this reaction. However…with my most recent compounds, my compounds stick to the Tin making it almost impossible to get my product compound off. Very annoying!

    • Photo: Neil Keddie

      Neil Keddie answered on 7 Mar 2018:

      This is a mean question! I think I’m going to side with Lauren here about Tin, and maybe add Mercury into the mix too. Both of these elements can be very useful in chemical synthesis reactions, but they are really, really, REALLY toxic, so you need to be very careful when you handle them. I used to do a reaction with a mercury salt that would dissolve bits of your spatula if you weren’t very careful about how you cleaned stuff up – just imagine what that does to you!

    • Photo: Ciorsdaidh Watts

      Ciorsdaidh Watts answered on 7 Mar 2018:

      I’m with Neil on this one…I think Mercury is super cool but it is also my least favourite because of its major toxicity, in various forms. You know the “Mad Hatter” in Alice in Wonderland, that comes from people who made hats traditionally using Mercury…which drove them mad!

    • Photo: Martin McCoustra

      Martin McCoustra answered on 7 Mar 2018:

      That is a hard one to answer… But thinking about it I’d probably go for Mercury in agreement with the others.

    • Photo: Shuo Zhang

      Shuo Zhang answered on 7 Mar 2018:

      Well… I would say chlorine is my least favorite element. Though it is quite important for many chemical reactions, for example, chloride anion is good leaving group for nucleophilic substitution reaction, organic compounds containing chlorine are always poisonous.