Periodic Table and Oliver Sacks

Here’s more on the periodic table.

I was listening to a podcast on my iPod while walking my dog Genji. I often do that, not only because he is deaf (he never was a good conversationalist even when he had his hearing), but there are so many interesting podcasts available, and free. I subscribe to a few and every few days they are automatically downloaded to my computer from which I copy (“sync”) them to my iPod.

The podcast I enjoy most, along with “Car Talk”, is “Radiolab” that is produced by WNYC and NPR. I was listening to it while walking Genji one day and the hosts were visiting Oliver Sacks in his apartment and he was showing them his bathroom which, to their surprise, had a large periodic table on the wall.  Then, with a “you ain’t seen nothing yet” type response, Sacks said, “Let me show you my bedroom.” And there on his bed was a coverlet, full bed size that was “quilted” as a periodic table! 

Then to the living room where he showed them to a table holding a large box, divided into compartments, each having a real sample of a chemical element, some in vials because they exist, at room temperature, as a gas or liquid. The compartments were arranged, of course, as the Mendeleevian-organized real periodic table.

It was obvious that Sacks was a real periodic table enthusiast and element collector. Here’s a picture of a tee shirt he has in honor of the only living person to ever have an element, 106, named for him, Glenn Seaborg.

For those who don’t know of Dr. Oliver Sacks, he is a famous neurosurgeon and author. The Oscar-nominated movie, “Awakenings,” starring Robin Williams and Robert deNiro, was based on his book and describes an actual case. He has written some very popular books describing other cases. One such book, in addition to “Awakenings”, is entitled, “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”.

Dr. Sacks always comes across as such a pleasant, kind and sincere person. I can see where he would be good with patients and he is always interesting to listen to on radio and TV.

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