Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Tech & Science

1 in 5 in U.S. cannot name a single element on the periodic table

As Digital Journal reported, 2019 marks the 150th birthday of Mendeleev’s Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. Despite the fundamental importance of the periodic table to science, a new surrey finds that most in the U.S. struggle to name more than a few of the 118 elements listed on the current table.

This comes from a poll conducted by the Science History Institute (“Rare Earth Elements And Why They Matter: The Importance of Understanding the Elements of Technology”). When asked how many elements they could name on the periodic table, a majority (59 percent) of those surveyed said they could only name 10 or less; while just over one in five (22 percent) said they could not name a single element.

Periodic Table

The periodic table is a tabular arrangement of the chemical elements. These elements are positioned in periodic trends, sorted by atomic number, electron configuration, or by recurring chemical properties. There are seven rows which form the table, which form the periods. The general pattern is such that metals are located on the left hand-side of the table, and non-metals on the right. The columns are termed groups, consisting of elements with similar chemical behaviors.

Survey headlines

The survey also found that around one quarter of the U.S. population (26 percent) have never heard of rare earth elements. This is interesting in the context that 54 percent of those surveyed said they could not live without Internet, 42 percent could not live without computers; similarly, 41 percent said smartphones, 37 percent said TVs as their ‘must haves’ – yet each of these electronic devices relies on rare earth elements

A further interesting finding, and one which demonstrates the relevancy of chemistry in wider society, is that almost one in three (32 percent) U.S. citizens said that climate change and clean energy tech will be the technology that has the greatest impact on the world in the next five years.

The survey reveals why it is important to keep science (and experts) high on the agenda in the U.S. This is not least because nearly one in four (24 percent) of U.S. citizens indicated that science information was more accessible to them. However, there was also an indication that scientists need to adopt new ways of reaching out an communicating with the general public, since close to one in five (17 percent) said they feel like it is intimidating to stay up-to-date on the latest science developments

Avatar photo
Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

You may also like:


You can call it good business or at least good personal finance arithmetic.

Tech & Science

The nano-bubble generation is called optoporation, a pinpoint zone of heat that temporarily vaporizes a tiny hole in the cell membrane.


French hotel group Accor and LVMH said they had entered into a "strategic partnership" to develop the fabled Orient Express brand.


The dollar weakened after the release of US inflation data and the Federal Reserve's forecast for interest rates - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP...