Study the Elements with KDE’s Kalzium

KDE's Kalzium

I've written about a number of chemistry packages in the past and all of the computational chemistry that you can do in a Linux environment. But, what is fundamental to chemistry? Why, the elements, of course. So in this article, I focus on how you can learn more about the elements that make up everything around you with Kalzium. KDE's Kalzium is kind of like a periodic table on steroids. Not only does it have information on each of the elements, it also has extra functionality to do other types of calculations.

Kalzium should be available within the package repositories for most distributions. In Debian-based distributions, you can install it with the command:

sudo apt-get install kalzium

When you start it, you get a simplified view of the classical periodic table.

Figure 1. The default view is of the classical ordering of the elements.

You can change this overall view either by clicking the drop-down menu in the top-left side of the window or via the View→Tables menu item. You can select from five different display formats. Clicking one of the elements pops open a new window with detailed information.

Figure 2. Kalzium provides a large number of details for each element.

The default detail pane is an overview of the various physical characteristics of the given element. This includes items like the melting point, electron affinity or atomic mass. Five other information panes also are available. The atom model provides a graphical representation of the electron orbitals around the nucleus of the given atom. The isotopes pane shows a table of values for each of the known isotopes for the selected element, ordered by neutron number. This includes things like the atomic mass or the half-life for radioactive isotopes. The miscellaneous detail pane includes some of the extra facts and trivia that might be of interest. The spectrum detail pane shows the emission and absorption spectra, both as a graphical display and a table of values. The last detail pane provides a list of external links where you can learn more about the selected element. This includes links to Wikipedia, the Jefferson Lab and the Webelements sites.

Figure 3. For those elements that are stable enough, you even can see the emission and absorption spectra.