of the FAQ currently deals mainly with the boxed sets although many of
the questions are relevant to the new display versions that we are now
working on in partnership with Theodore Gray (see http://periodictabletable.com).
We plan to add some new sections discussing these versions in due course.
Please check back or in the meantime email your specific questions to
IS THE ELEMENT COLLECTION?
IS THE PERIODIC TABLE?
MANY ELEMENTS ARE THERE IN THE COLLECTION?
ARE THERE SEVERAL VERSIONS?
ANY ELEMENTS MISSING?
ABOUT THE RADIOACTIVE ELEMENTS?
THE RADIOACTIVE SAMPLES DANGEROUS?
SOME OF THE NON-RADIOACTIVE ELEMENTS ALSO DANGEROUS?
CHEMICAL AND PHYSICAL FORM ARE THE ELEMENTS IN?
IS THE PURITY OF THE SAMPLES?
MUCH OF EACH ELEMENT DO I GET?
IF I WANT LARGER SAMPLES?
ARE THE ELEMENTS PACKAGED?
MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN BUYING THE COLLECTION?
MUCH DOES THE ELEMENT COLLECTION COST?
IS THE COLLECTION QUITE EXPENSIVE?
YOU OFFER A GUARANTEE?
OTHER COLLECTION DESIGNS AVAILABLE?
ME ABOUT YOUR COMPANY?
OTHER PRODUCTS DO YOU SELL?
CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE ELEMENTS?
CAN I ORDER THE ELEMENT COLLECTION?
IS THE ELEMENT COLLECTION? top
The Element Collection is a boxed set of all the naturally occurring elements
in the periodic table. Approximately ninety chemical substances are provided
as samples that can be removed from their wood presentation case in individual
sealed glass tubes to study. The elements are carefully protected for
safety. The box measures 45cm x 24cm x 6cm.
IS THE PERIODIC TABLE? top
The periodic table of elements was devised by the Russian scientist Dimitri
Ivanovich Mendeleyev in 1869. It is a system for arranging the chemical
elements, from which everything in the universe is ultimately composed.
The periodic table organises the elements into rows, columns and blocks
in an ingenious way which reflects their chemical behaviour. The result
is that elements vertically above or below one another in the periodic
table tend to have similar chemical (and often physical) properties. The
samples of each element provided in the Element Collection are arranged
according to Mendeleyev's periodic table.
MANY ELEMENTS ARE THERE IN THE COLLECTION? top
Several versions of the Element Collection are available, some with and
some without the radioactive elements. The basic set contains 63 pure elements,
18 elements as compounds and 11 empty vials with radiation symbols. The
deluxe set contains 80 pure elements including thorium and uranium, 3 compounds
and 9 trace radioactive samples. The super-deluxe set contains 83 pure element
samples generally filling each vial and 9 trace radioactive samples.
See the question about the radioactive elements for further details of how
these samples are provided.
ARE THERE SEVERAL VERSIONS? top
Several versions are provided to meet the needs of different people. Some
elements are very expensive and there is a trade off between the size
of the samples provided and cost. The more expensive version contains
larger amounts of the rare elements. Also some people may not wish to
purchase the radioactive elements (even though the radiation levels
are well below international safety thresholds for sending through the
ordinary post). See the question on safety for further discussion.
Finally 18 elements require special HAZMAT shipping despite the very
small quantities involved. Replacing these with unregulated compounds
(which still contain the relevant element) greatly reduces the shipping
cost, particularly for international orders.
ANY ELEMENTS MISSING? top
The Element Collection includes all the naturally occurring elements up
to and including uranium (atomic number 92). See the question about radioactive
elements for information about the form of these samples: in some cases
you get only a few atoms! The collection excludes the artificially-produced
transuranic elements (atomic numbers 93 to 118), which are all highly
radioactive and mostly very short-lived. Almost all the transuranics are
too dangerous to include in visible quantities. Sorry: no plutonium!
ABOUT THE RADIOACTIVE ELEMENTS? top
Two radioactive elements (thorium and uranium) are provided as small metal
samples. Two others, radium and promethium, are presented in the form
of small dabs of luminous paint. They exist in the paint in trace amounts
mixed with zinc sulphide which gives off light when exposed to radiation.
You can see the Ra and Pm samples glowing in the dark. The remaining seven
radioactives are represented by small uranium or thorium bearing ores.
These naturally occurring specimens contain complex decay chains of radioactive
elements and at any given time will harbour a small quantity of the specified
element. Further details, including an estimate of the number of atoms
each radioactive element in the samples, are provided in the guide that
accompanies the Element Collection.
THE RADIOACTIVE SAMPLES DANGEROUS? top
We take safety very seriously and have consulted both the UK Health and
Safety Executive and the UK National Radiological Protection board during
the development of the Element Collection. All the radioactive samples
are permanenty embedded in clear resin contained in sealed vessels and
both the amount of radioactive materials and level of radioactivity emitted
are well below relevant exemption thresholds under present legislation.
The activity at the surface of the most active samples is below 1 micro
Sievert which is a level commonly encountered in the basements of some
houses built on granite rocks or in the passenger compartment of a transatlantic
jet. It is not advisable to expose yourself to any unnecessary source
of radiation. The level of exposure from normal use of the Element Collection
will be well below that encountered from everyday background sources.
SOME OF THE NON-RADIOACTIVE ELEMENTS ALSO DANGEROUS? top
Yes! Some of the more toxic elements included in the Element Collection
are beryllium, arsenic, bromine, mercury and thallium. Some of the more
reactive elements include rubidium and caesium. All the samples are of
course sealed inside glass tubes and stored inside their wooden case,
however the danger still exists that these could be broken. Where the
risk is significant, the elements have been further protected by providing
a second vessel within the tube. Wherever possible the safest form of
the element has been used (solid beryllium pieces rather than powder for
example). The small size of the samples helps to reduce risk. Clean-up
instructions are provided in the event of a spill. The Element Collection
is not a toy. It should be kept in a safe place. Children should not be
allowed to handle any of the hazardous samples (indicated in the accompanying
documentation) unsupervised. When you purchase the Element Collection
you must first return a declaration stating that you will use the product
responsibly. We have produced a risk assessment document which is available
on this website.
CHEMICAL AND PHYSICAL FORM ARE THE ELEMENTS IN? top
The non-radioactive elements are presented in their pure uncombined form:
the majority are metals, two are liquids (bromine and mercury) and ten
are gases. Where several forms of the element exist (allotropes) the safest
or commonest is generally provided. An example is phosphorous which is
supplied in the non-toxic red allotrope. See the question about the radioactive
elements for more information about how they are presented. The physical
form of each element varies greatly: most are presented as irregular lumps,
a few as foil strips and a few as solid melted pellets. Powders are generally
avoided. We have gone to considerable length to source the most attractive
forms of each element. Note that in the basic version of the sets, compounds
are provided instead of the pure elements for 18 samples to avoid the
expense of HAZMAT shipping. In the deluxe version, 3 samples (the halogens F,
Cl, Br) are similary substituted. For example silver promide is provided
instead of bromine.
IS THE PURITY OF THE SAMPLES? top
The elements are generally provided at a purity of 99.9% (3N) or better.
An exception is the trace radioactive elements as explained elsewhere
in this FAQ. Copies of the certificates of analysis can be provided on
MUCH OF EACH ELEMENT DO I GET? top
This varies widely depending on the cost of the material and which version
of the Element Collection you decide to buy. In the basic version, approximately
1g each of the commoner elements is supplied, which gives a reasonable
sample occupying approximately the bottom fifth of the sample tube. With
the very costly elements we provide a smaller fragment that can be readily
viewed with the naked eye, to see its properties and to allow comparison
with other elements. For example, one of the more expensive elements is
the rare earth Lutetium which costs over $100 per gram from laboratory
suppliers. For Lu in the basic set we supply one or more metal fragments
that together cover an area of at least 9 square mm and weigh around 0.25g.
In the deluxe set we provide larger samples, generally weighing at least 1g
even for the most expensive elements such as the platinum group metals. In
the super-deluxe version, all vials are completely filled, except where
safety considerations dictate that samples should be smaller. Full details
can be provided on request.
IF I WANT LARGER SAMPLES? top
Some people may wish to order the deluxe version or super deluxe version
of the collection with larger samples of the rarer elements. These versions
are of course more expensive! We also offer individual element samples for
sale. A catalogue is available to download from this website.
ARE THE ELEMENTS PACKAGED? top
Each element is sealed in an individual glass sample tube with a black
cap that is permanently bonded on and must not be removed. These small
bottles measure approximately 35mm in height and are 18mm in diameter.
Air-sensitive elements are ampouled under argon gas and sometimes also
clear mineral oil. A few dangerous elements are further protected in a
second glass tube within the bottle. The chemical symbol for each element
is attractively engraved onto its bottle cap and colour-coded to indicate
the group in the periodic table to which the element belongs. The sample
tubes are housed in individual compartments in a felt-lined wooden box
measuring approximately 40cm x 20cm x 5cm. The box has a hinged lid with
dual catches and is specially manufactured for us using an attractive
MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN BUYING THE COLLECTION? top
The Element Collection is particularly suitable for school chemistry departments
as the specimens can be passed individually around a class. Scientists
and those involved in science will find the Element Collection a valuable
resource and a lasting source of interest. The presentation set makes
a handsome gift and will appeal to those, such as metallurgists and people
in the microelectronics industry, involved in working with the elements.
Lastly the Element Collection will appeal to everyone who has a sense
of curiosity about the natural world.
ABOUT DISPOSAL? top
The Element Collection is designed to last indefinitely. In the unlikely
event that it needs to be discarded, it is important that prevailing environmental
regulations are followed with regard to disposal of the toxic and radioactive
samples. Everyone purchasing the Element Collection must sign an agreement
taking responsibility for ultimate safe disposal.
MUCH DOES THE ELEMENT COLLECTION COST? top
The basic set (63 pure elements, 18 compounds, 11 empty engraved vials with
radiation symbols) costs £475. The deluxe version of the Element
Collection (80 pure elements, 3 compounds, 9 trace samples) costs £875.
The super-deluxe version with generally full 7ml vials (83 pure elements,
9 trace samples)costs £1,975.
All prices are ex VAT. Shipping and insurance for delivery within the
UK costs £25. You will find price conversion to Euros and to US
Dollars on our website. See the special section on shipping for information
about ordering internationally.
IS THE COLLECTION QUITE EXPENSIVE? top
Producing the Element Collection is not easy! Many of the elements themselves
are expensive (far more costly even than gold). A more significant factor
is the special handling and packaging that is required, especially for
toxic substances and the numerous elements sensitive to air. To help people
on a tight budget, we do offer a version without the radioactive elements
at a lower price.
YOU OFFER A GUARANTEE? top
The Element Collection may be returned (in the condition in which it was
received) for a full refund (less P&P) within seven days of purchase.
Any samples which deterioriate within one year of sale may be returned
for free replacement. Spare samples can be purchased individually.
OTHER COLLECTION DESIGNS AVAILABLE? top
We have also produced a unique clear
resin display in which the elements are arranged according to the
periodic table. It has the advantage that all the samples are simultaneously
visible, while being protected in a robust matrix. It makes an impressive
display for an office wall, board room or desktop. Please see this website
for further details and to view
a photograph. We also produce large interactive periodic
table displays suitable for public exhibition in museums and science
ME ABOUT YOUR COMPANY? top
The Element Collection is produced by RGB Research Ltd, a subsidiary of
The Red Green & Blue Company Ltd (RGB). The company was founded in
1987 and specialises in science-related projects. Over the years RGB has
been responsible for numerous documentary films including several episodes
of the BBC science series Horizon, public displays and educational projects
including a BAFTA-winning natural history website, a wide range of interactive
CD-ROMs and DVDs, and a series of exhibits at the UK's leading hands-on
science centre Explore-at-Bristol and at the British Museum in London.
OTHER PRODUCTS DO YOU SELL? top
If you decide to buy the deluxe or super-deluxe version of the Element
Collection which include samples of the radioactive elements, you might
also consider purchasing a hand
held radiation monitor (Geiger counter) to test the radioactive samples.
We offer via our webstore
an excellent battery-operated model that accurately measures a wide range
of radiation and is useful for measuring background radioactivity around
the home or workplace. Please see the website for further details.
CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE ELEMENTS? top
There are numerous excellent periodic tables available on the internet,
for example http://www.webelements.com
We also highly recommend the book "The
Elements: Nature's Building Blocks" by John Emsley published
by Oxford University Press. This wonderful and highly readable book covers
every element in great detail. It is also available from our web
CAN I ORDER THE ELEMENT COLLECTION? top
Orders can be placed using a credit card via our webstore
or by telephone on 020 8490 1788 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.