A Conversation for Tom Lehrer - Satirical Singer and Songwriter

An Evening Wasted

Post 1

Recumbentman

"A live recording of the same songs was made during a concert at Harvard, and issued as an album entitled An Evening (Wasted) With Tom Lehrer."

I bought that record when I was 13 (neither today nor yesterday) (actually 1961) and my brother and I memorised all the songs (yes, including The Elements).

What amazed me most was his piano-playing, his brass-necked self-confidence, and his wit, in that order. Viva Tom.

On the sleeve-notes he described himself as giving lessons on the ukulele da gamba. Can this really have been the influence that led me to my present position playing and teaching the treble (etc) viol?


An Evening Wasted

Post 2

Laura

Memorised the elements??? Impressive. Haven't managed that one but am getting there... The only Tom Lehrer song I've completely memorised is 'Poisoning the Pigeons in the Park', probably because it is the first track on my 'Tom Lehrer in concert' cd. Though having said that, I've memorised 'Irish ballad' and the 'Hunting Song' as well. And 'Be Prepared'... And many more coming to think of it. smiley - blush

Anyway, I became interested in Tom Lehrer by chance. 'Tom Lehrer in Concert' came up as one of my recommendations on Amazon, and because I already knew and liked the elements song after hearing it in science classes, I bought it. Since then, (a few months ago), Tom Lehrer has become popular with many of my friends, and many an archery session has been spent singing 'poisoning the pigeons'. I love the wit and the music. I love it all.smiley - biggrin

As for an influence in playing and teaching the treble, I have no idea.


An Evening Wasted

Post 3

Recumbentman

There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium
And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium
And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium
And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium
Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium
And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium
And gold, protactinium and indium and gallium
And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium

There's yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium
And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium
And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium
And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium and barium
___________________________________

There's holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium
And phosphorus and francium and fluorine and terbium
And manganese and mercury, molybdenum, magnesium
Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and caesium
And lead, praseodymium and platinum, plutonium
Palladium, promethium, potassium, polonium
And tantalum, technetium, titanium, tellurium
And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium

There's sulphur, californium and fermium, berkelium
And also mendelevium, einsteinium, nobelium
And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc and rhodium
And chlorine, carbon, cobalt, copper, tungsten, tin and sodium
___________________________________

These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard
And there may be many others but they haven't been discarvered
___________________________________

Since Tom Lehrer made this song in the 1950s the following elements have been added to the list:
atomic number symbol name date
103 Lr lawrencium 1961
104 Db dubium 1969
105 Jl joliotium 1970
106 Rf rutherfordium 1974
107 Bh bohrium 1981
109 Mt meitnerium 1982
108 Hn hahnium 1984
110 Uun ununnilium 1994
111 Uuu unununium 1994
112 Uub ununbium 1996
and a further three — unnamed, atomic numbers 118, 116 and 114 — have been discovered at Berkeley, California. And no, I didn't just type that all in; I keep a copy handy (for emergencies)smiley - erm


An Evening Wasted

Post 4

Laura

I have a periodic table on my wall. You never know when it may come in handy. Why, only the other day I couldn't remember what Ne was. Ready was the table, helpfuly showing Ne to be neon. It only goes up to atomic number 105 though, and 104 is Unnilquadium and 105 Unnilpentium. I think it is out of date.smiley - erm

Those last elements don't have very good names either, especially the three without them. It would be very difficult to add a verse with the updated elements if they don't have names.

There's lawrenccium, dubium, joliotium and bohrium,
ununnillium, meitnerium, hahnium, rutherfordsium,
and unununium, and unumbium, and blankium, and unnamedium,
and yetobenamedataconvenienttimeium.

It doesn't quite have the same ring to it, realy. smiley - ermsmiley - sadface


An Evening Wasted

Post 5

Recumbentman

Have to admit my list is probably way out of date; haven't checked for months!

The worst thing is, these high-number elements have an lifetime of a veeery small fraction of a second, before they mutate into something more stable.

"Wait there honey while I slip into something more . . . stable."
"Wow, you look great in that stable! Hey -- where's she gone?"
"I'm still here babe, only I'm someone else now."

Hah! Call that a life?


An Evening Wasted

Post 6

Laura

Hardly seems worth the effort. They are not worthy of appearing in the song, as they would be gone before they get mentioned. Stupid morphing elements, making gaps in the cosmic abundance graph. Hardly seems woth the effort of discovering them.

At least they don't get the chance to be bored.


An Evening Wasted

Post 7

Ormondroyd

How come the last three elements haven't got names? Do these smiley - scientistsmiley - scientist have no imagination?

I wonder if they're accepting suggestions for names? 'Ormondroydium' has quite a nice ring to it, don't you think? smiley - winkeye


An Evening Wasted

Post 8

Recumbentman

You want something invisibly fleeting, unstable and highly dangerous named after you?

I guess all you have to do is persuade some smiley - scientistsmiley - scientist that you've discovered it.


An Evening Wasted

Post 9

Ormondroyd

smiley - laugh Well, I have just discovered it! I found out about it in this thread! And some might say that it'd be pretty apt for something unstable to be named after me! smiley - biggrin

'Ormondroydium' would certainly be a better name than 'Uuu unununium' smiley - bigeyes How the smiley - bleep do you think they came up with THAT name?

smiley - scientist #1: 'What shall we call this stuff, then?'

smiley - scientist #2: 'Ooooh... um... um... unium'.

smiley - scientist #1: 'Perfect!' smiley - winkeye


An Evening Wasted

Post 10

Recumbentman

unununium is just rotten dog Latin for "one-one-one-stuff" meaning stuff with atomic number 111. smiley - coolsmiley - huh


An Evening Wasted

Post 11

Laura

That kind of proves the whole some smiley - scientistsmiley - scientist have no imagination thing. Naming and element after its atomic number is pathetic. I guess they thought that by putting it in latin nobody would notice.


An Evening Wasted

Post 12

Go stick your head in a pig :@)

*steps in ages after the conversation finishes to add his twopenneth* smiley - biggrin

The reason that many of the elements are left unnamed or with names like 'unununium' is because they are temporary names. Apart from allowing the international scientific community time to check the results of the experiment to see that the element actually exists, it also allows IUPAC (the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry - www.iupac.org) to decide on a name. The length of time needed to do this is usually stupidly long and stems back to the Cold War. During that time, chemists on both sides of the Iron Curtain regularly laid claim to being the first to discover a new chemical element, and hence attempted to name it for themselves. This did in fact lead to three or four newly discovered elements having different names, and hence caused some confusion (IUPAC used the temporary names at this point)

The naming of the elements was originally left up to the discoverer, but in recent years has been down to a committee at IUPAC who consider names contained in these broad categories:

Modern Celestial Objects - such as Uranium, Plutonium and Neptunium.
Places - such as Americium, Francium and Californium
People - such as Einsteinium, Rutherfordium, Meitnerium. All of these elements are named posthumously, and most of them are named after dead particle physicists.

So all you need to do is either become a brilliant particle physicist and then die, get the tenth planet in the Solar system named after you (although you'd probably have to discover it first, or become a brilliant astronomer and then die to have it named after you), or share your name with a place somewhere.

Sorru guys, but that's the way it goes...smiley - sadface

:@)


An Evening Wasted

Post 13

Laura

Had no intention of getting an elemant named after me anywaysmiley - biggrin. I only wish that the whole process was speeded up a bit to keep things neater. A periodic table with unnamed elements is a sore to the eyes. smiley - yuk I am well aware that Unununium is a temporary name, am just playing around.smiley - winkeye It helps to fill the time between essays, altough I don't normally get far enough for 'between' to be a valid statement.smiley - smiley


An Evening Wasted

Post 14

Go stick your head in a pig :@)

repeat above comment, replacing the word 'essays' (what /is/ that word anyway) with maths questions. smiley - winkeye Who needs an excuse to play around anyway? smiley - biggrin

No offence intended, I just thought I'd explain the process a bit more. I thought it was quite ironic that there was no way that a newly discovered element could be named after it's discoverer.smiley - laugh

:@)


An Evening Wasted

Post 15

Laura

It is ironic, but may help in keeping elements pronouncable.smiley - smiley A bit of info is always a welcome distraction from 'how do plants influence our lives', an essay with another 400 words to go before I hit the minimum word requirement.smiley - groan

Eek, maths problems smiley - yikes. Am happy that it doesn't get any more complicated for me than calculating atmospheric pressure.smiley - smiley


An Evening Wasted

Post 16

Go stick your head in a pig :@)

hehe, I just had an explanation of how 'flow in an incompressible fluid is solenoidal' in one of my lectures this morning. Didn't understand a word of it, but it sounded impressive!smiley - huhsmiley - ermsmiley - doh

Calculating atmospheric pressure? Sounds like you were using numbers for that! It's been so long since we last used integers that my colleague forgot what sqrt(4) was yesterday!smiley - yikes

Still, it's all got to be better than writing pages of English... Greek's far more fun hehe. smiley - winkeye

:@)


An Evening Wasted

Post 17

Laura

Atmospheric pressure is not all intergers, as involves exponent. Still, is relativley simple.smiley - biggrin Forgetting the square root of 4? That is a little worrying, but despite simplicity it is thankfully not essential knowledge.smiley - smiley

My only knowledge of sloenoid is a coil of wile with a current through it. No idea what that's got to do with flow smiley - erm. I find impressive but nonunderstandable statements all the time. One lecturer said 'Life is that which temporarily deffiest the third law of thermodynamics'. I have no idea what the third law of thermodynamics is, or that there were and laws of them, and couldn't even give a definition of what thermodynamics refers to in the first place.smiley - huh

I get my fair share of Greek, but am pleased that most bits are English. I was never very good at languages smiley - winkeyesmiley - biggrin


An Evening Wasted

Post 18

Ih-Dschieh

Just read somewhere that Ununnulium is now called Darmstadtium after the town where it was discovered.


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