Elements of Surprise; As Motorhead fans campaign for a new metal to be named after Lemmy, weird facts about chemistry's periodic table...
TO many it's the baffling wall chart you stared at in boredom during chemistry lessons.
Others may recognise the little numbered and lettered squares from the title sequence of TV hit Breaking Bad.
But this week the 150-year-old Periodic Table made headlines around the world - and sent geeks into a frenzy of excitement.
Because four new chemical elements have just been added to the grid, listing them by two-letter symbols and atomic numbers.
After years of research Russian and American scientists "created" the four radioactive elements - numbered 113, 115, 117 and 118 - by smashing atoms together.
And now a petition has been launched to get a heavy metal element named lemmium in tribute to Motorhead rocker Lemmy (inset), who died last month - and was no stranger to chemicals on tables.
But, if you look a bit closer at the Periodic Table, it's already full of fascinating secrets...
In 1869 Russian chemistry professor Dmitri Mendeleev published his Periodic Table, listing 63 elements in rows or columns in order of atomic weight.
He claimed the idea came to him in a dream. Mendeleev also wrote about mixing alcohol and water which, legend has it, led to vodka being a standard 40%.
He died of flu in St Petersburg at the age of 72. A crater on the moon is named after him, as is element number 101, radioactive mendelevium.
When an element has been known about by humankind for centuries, we find a whole variety of weird and wonderful uses - and that's certainly the case with antimony.
The ancient Egyptians used it in eye make-up, but the more constipated Victorians turned it into a laxative pill which was supposed to be retrieved and used again and again. Yes, a reusable laxative pill.
Chemistry boffins at the University of Kentucky have created The Periodic Table of Comic Books - a website mapping every mention of an element in a comic story. It's had more than six million hits.
In case you were wondering, the ductile metal praseodymium (and Greek for green twin) hasn't featured in any of the superhero sagas.
But it does appear in a tonguetwisting song that lists the periodic table - performed in 2010 by Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, right, on the Graham Norton chat show.
"The Elements" was composed by lecturer Tom Lehrer in 1959 - when only 102 had been identified.
A spoof video update featuring the four new elements too is now trending on the web.
As its discovery came during work for the Am Mwa Manhattan Project, which created the first atomic bomb, americium was top secret - until revealed by a scientist on an American children's radio show. Radioactive, it's found in the greatest quantities at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine.
In 2013 Seattle student Jessica Lee hit the headlines after sneaking lyrics from rapper Notorious B.I.G into her high-school yearbook by using a periodic code. Under her photo she wrote a list of elements, whose letters spelt out some of Biggie's baddest words(F) fluorine (U) uraniumwe'll leave the rest to your imagination.
Helium is the second most common element in the universe, but is very rare on the Earth. It was even first discovered on the Sun before the Earth. And yes, it makes your voice go funny.
US comedian Natalie Dee made a periodic table of things you can smell - called smellements. These ranged from "natural" such as leaves, the beach and roses, through appetising, funky and pleasant, all the way to freaking gross, like skunk, sour milk and a rotten corpse.
One of the weirdest elements is copernicium, technically a metal which forms as a gas at normal room temperature. So you could actually breathe in a metal.
Francium is the rarest element on Earth. There are probably no more than a few ounces of it on the planet - in the Earth's crust - at any given time. If you do happen to see any francium, it exists for such a short time in nature before breaking down that it would disappear before your very eyes - that is if it hadn't catastrophically exploded from the moisture in the air and you'd survived the massive dose of radiation which comes with it.
Argentina is named after the element silver which is argentum in Latin. It came from the legend of a mountain made of the precious metal, heard originally in the West from the tales of 16th-century Spanish castaways. First it gave its name to the mythical South American Sierra de la Plata - Silver Mountains - and later to the country of Diego Maradona and Top Gear adventures.
Vanadium, a hard, silvery-grey metal was discovered by Spanish scientist Andres Manuel del Rio in 1801. But other scientists convinced him he had only found a different form of chromium. The element was rediscovered by Swedish chemist Nils Sefstrom in 1830 and named after Vanadis, the Scandinavian goddess of beauty. One of the first uses of vanadium was in the steel chassis of the 1908 Model T Ford.
Thallium is the most toxic of all elements - although radioactive elements such as polonium (used to kill former-KGB operative Alexander Litvinenko, inset, in London in 2006) or plutonium are lethal at lower doses. In 1972 President Nixon issued an order banning thallium's use as a poison. But it is still used in electronics to make infrared detectors.
Bahlt Beryllium gives emeralds their green or red hues and aquamarine its light blue. It's resistance to extreme cold makes it ideal for space telescope mirrors.
DISASTER But there's plenty of americium at the Chernobyl site
ATOMIC REACTION Scientists are mad for new elements