You Keep Using That Word…

Something I ran across last week was the so-called periodic elements of star wars ep. IV, V, and VI

It’s very pretty, and a lot of effort obviously went into the graphic presentation of it. However, that’s apparently where the effort stopped. What’s wrong with it?

It’s not periodic.

The periodic table has such power because of the similarity of properties and the trends one can identify — it was gaps in the layout that helped identify some of the elements. Those properties are completely missing on this table — any you might glean have got to be there purely by accident.

A truly periodic table might, for example, put all the Jedi into a column. All the droids into another. The pilot identifiers (Red/Gold/Rogue), too — they shouldn’t be in a row.

There are other tables out there like this — where the creators seemingly mistake “periodic” for “collection” or something like that. It is a table, and if you happen to have around a hundred names or so to put on it, you might think it would be clever to geek it up in this way. But when you actually want to represent it as or call it a periodic table, what you’ve shown is you weren’t paying attention in chemistry class.

2 thoughts on “You Keep Using That Word…

  1. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! (I’ve ranted about this, albeit briefly, on Twitter.) This is the thing I hate. There is nothing special about the shape of the periodic table (the s, p, d, and f blocks) except in the case of the elements.

    There is also a trend to think the colored groupings of most periodic tables (metalloids, non-metals, etc) are significant.

    For it to work as a periodic table, there should be similarities within each column AND row, something which no “Periodic Table of X” has done that I’ve seen.

  2. How about this?

    Groups: As suggested by swansont: Jedi, droids, etc. with characters who appeared later in the series further down the column (chronological ordering).

    Periods: Then across each row (left to right) we’d see a spectrum reflecting each aspect of the force: those aligned with the light side on the left (usually Jedi), those non-aligned around the middle, and the dark side proponents at the right (usually Syth).

    And I’ve only watched half the series 😛

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