The Chemical Educator, Vol. 6, No. 5, S1430-4171(01)05506-X, 10.1007/s00897010506a, © 2001 Springer-Verlag New York, Inc.

Periodic Table Live!, 2nd Edition. Alton J. Banks, Jon L. Holmes, Jerrold J. Jacobsen, John W. Moore, Paul F. Schatz, Jaclyn Tweedale, Jon C. Kotz, and Susan Young. Special Issue 17; CD-ROM for Macintosh and Windows; JCE Software, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1101 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706-1396; Phone: (608) 262-5153 or (800) 991-5534; FAX: (608) 265-8094; e-mail: jcesoft@; Prices/Licensing (prices for non-U.S. are in parentheses): single user on a single machine, $60 ($80); additional single user copies, $45 ($65); libraries, single machine, $120 ($140); networks, up to 12 simultaneous users, $240 ($260); networks, up to 50 simultaneous users, $800 ($820); networks, more than 50 simultaneous users, contact JCE Software for a quote.

George B. Kauffman and Brian Fischer, California State University Fresno,,

According to the late American astronomer Harlow Shapley, the periodic table is “probably the most compact and meaningful compilation of knowledge that man has yet devised.” Since Dmitrii Ivanovich Mendeleev first announced it in 1869, more than 700 different graphical representations of this cornerstone of modern inorganic chemistry have been published [1], and 3-D models have been devised for instructional use [2]. Now modern technology has succeeded in making Mendeleev’s table available for chemical educators and students alike in a dazzling variety of aspects that would have seemed unbelievable to its inventor.

The first edition of Periodic Table Live! combined, on a single disc, material from three earlier JCE Software products: the digital video from The Periodic Table CD-ROM [3] with the graphical and descriptive databases of the elements from Chemistry Navigator [4] and The Illustrated Periodic Table [5] to form a unified, easy-to-use, dynamic tour of the periodic table. This edition transformed PTL! into an HTML format, making the presentation, content, and features available to both Apple Macintosh or Microsoft Windows users.

All of the video from the first edition has been redigitized from the original master tapes, re-edited, and compressed using the latest Apple QuickTime technology, resulting in higher quality digital video with smaller file sizes. However, only the latest hardware can take advantage of the high quality video; a lower quality version of the video is included for viewers lacking this hardware.

Yet the HTML-based format has required some tradeoffs. Instead of the interactive graphing module of the first edition using Microsoft Excel, charts of each property versus atomic number are available via the Chart tab. An Excel spreadsheet of the data presented in PTL! is available and can be used in Excel to create other types of graphs. Although the ability to search for a word or phrase is not available, JCE Software hopes to make both the interactive graphing and searching features available in future updates.

PTL!2 is easy to work with and so well organized that the average viewer will have no difficulty in using it. Opening the program leads the viewer directly to an interactive periodic table at the upper left of the page. Clicking the mouse on any symbol in the table takes one to the screen for that element. The left side of this page shows the entire periodic table with the position of the element highlighted, and it features reactions of the element, while the right side contains hypertext and numerical data.

The tabs at the top of the page determine the type of information displayed. The left side contains four tabs:

(1)   The Video tab provides access to reactions of the elements.

(2)   The Crystal tab presents a three-dimensional, computer-generated drawing of the element and a description of the structure, often including links to other representations of the structure.

(3)   The Chart tab brings up a new browser window in which a property can be selected to be graphed versus atomic number.

(4)   The Glossary tab opens a new browser window with a glossary of technical terms.

The right side contains three tabs:

(1)   The Description tab provides access to information about the discovery, naming, common characteristics, occurrence, common reactions, and uses of the element.

(2)   The Physical tab provides access to macroscopic properties such as boiling point, melting point, density, and numerous others. Many periodic table programs give some of the information listed in this section, but most do not include as much information, and this is the only one that we have seen that provides a section for the source of the element.

(3)   The Atomic tab leads to information about electron affinity, ionization energy, electronegativity, atomic radius, and many other atomic characteristics. For this and the previous section, each property name is linked to its definition and a reference to the source of the data. Graphs as a function of atomic number are available for all numerical properties.

Most of the scientific information on this disc can be found on the Internet in different periodic table Websites, but PTL!2’s pictures and video clips are distinctive and special features lacking elsewhere. In some cases referencing a chemical reaction brings up a video clip demonstrating the reaction taking placeand the color change if there is one. In many cases multiple pictures show the element in its common uses and its elemental forms.

Hardware and Software Requirements

• RAM: at least24 MB RAM

• Drive: 4 ´ CD-ROM; hard disk

Included Software: QuickTime 3; Adobe Acrobat Reader

• WWW Browser (not included): Netscape Navigator 4 or higher, or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 or higher

• For Mac OS

Computer: Mac OS compatible

CPU: Power PC; 150 or greater MHz recommended

Graphics: 800 ´ 600 or greater; thousands or millions of colors

Operating System: System 7.6.1 or higher

• For Windows

Computer: Windows compatible

CPU: Pentium recommended

Graphics: 800 ´ 600 or greater; 16-bit or 24-bit color

Operating System: Windows 95 or 98

PTL Live! 2nd Edition is a stimulating interactive journey through the periodic table and its constituent elements that is suitable for chemistry students at all levels, especially in general, inorganic, and solid state chemistry. Additional information on JCE Software is available at its Website:

References and Notes

1.       See, e. g., Mazurs, E. G. Graphic Representations of the Periodic System During One Hundred Years; University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, AL, 1974.

2.       See, e. g., Kauffman, G. B. Review of Fernando Dufour’s ElemenTree: A 3-D Periodic Table.Chem Educator 1999, 4 (3), 121–122; DOI 10.1007/s000897990308a.

3.       Banks, A. J.; Holmes, J. L. The Periodic Table CD-ROM; J. Chem. Educ. Software, SP10, 1995.

4.       Kotz, J. C.; Young, S. Chemistry Navigator; J. Chem. Educ. Software, 6C, No. 2, 1994.

5.       Schatz, P. F.; Moore, J. W.; Holmes, J. L.; Kotz, J. C. The Illustrated Periodic Table; J. Chem. Educ. Software, 2D, No. 2, 1995.