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Kalzium – Video play feature

April 3, 2009

This is a cool feature that I have added to Kalzium. It will be really attractive in schools. I call it the play feature. You can basically play the periodic table like a video where you can see the temperature increase from 0 K to 6000 K gradually and see all the elements melt and eventually boil.

This is an addition to the somwidget. I have added the same feature to the Time-widget. When the play button is clicked on, you start from some year in the 1600s. The periodic table displays only the elements that had been discovered then. The year gradually increases to 1994 and stops.

To make things convinient, there is a pause button and the speed slider with which you can select the speed. The navigation slider already exists.

Here are some cool screen-shots of the same.

This is the som-widget, the temperature is currently at absolute zero. Red elements are solid at this temperature.


I start playing the periodic-table video, gradually some elements melt and some even boil. The blue elements are liquid at this temperature and the green ones are gaseous.


As we proceed this is what it looks like. The text area in the widget indicates the elements that melt or boil around that temperature with a threshold of 25 K.


Most elements have boiled here. Note the Grey boxes are elements whose values are unknown.


This is at 6000 K. This shows no solid or even liquid element at that temperature.

This is the time widget, at each year between 1664 and 1994, it shows the elements which had been discovered in blue and the undiscovered ones in blue.


Once again I hit the play button and start the video and, also increase the speed.


Many elements have been discovered at around this year you see.


1994 – Almost all elements have been discovered.


These are the features that will be available in KDE 4.3 probably. I am sure students will like it.
If you have any suggestions about this feature or an earlier feature, please comment.
Also suggest any additional feature if you wish to see it in Kalzium in the next release of KDE ( 4.3).

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Parker Coates permalink
    April 3, 2009 1:04 pm

    I was under the impression the helium didn’t normally freeze at absolute zero, so your screen shot at 0K surprised me. Reading up on it, it seems it will freeze at sufficiently high pressures.

    I guess ideally, Kalzium would have a pressure slider in addition to the temperature slider, but I guess that would require having phase diagrams for every element.

    • April 3, 2009 1:41 pm

      Helium has a boiling point of 4.216 K and a melting point of around 0.95 K.
      All elements should freeze at sufficiently low temperatures.
      This temperature is hard to reach, but at higher temperatures and higher pressures it freezes easily.

      About the pressure slider. I think it is a good idea, it will be useful for most gases.
      There is no general formula for the curve in the phase diagram. So we will need lots of tables for that.

  2. moltonel permalink
    April 3, 2009 4:02 pm

    Cool feature (I used to play the slider manually), although I would simplify the UI a bit, as it looks a bit bloated right now. Turn the two buttons into one play/pause button beside the slider, and remove the speed slider (add it back in the global settings, maybe ?).

    Although strong, this is just my gut feeling :p

  3. April 3, 2009 4:14 pm

    The speed can’t be a global setting because the user may want to change it midway, for eg. the number of elements that boil / melt decreases as the temperature increases, so the user may want to increase the speed.

    Although I agree the UI is bloated. Its because I expanded the sidebar to get a clean screen shot.

    There is only one play – pause button. πŸ™‚
    There are two sliders, 1 for speed and the other for navigation.
    There is a spin box for entering the temperature / year from the key-board.

    Again the side-bar can be compressed.

    Thanks for the reply, nice to know that a lot of people use Kalzium.

  4. renoX permalink
    April 3, 2009 6:22 pm

    Interesting features for schools indeed.
    Nice work.

  5. henshaw permalink
    April 4, 2009 4:03 pm

    Would it be better to have a ‘cooler’ colour for solids and ‘warmer’ for liquids & gasses? Red for solids seems particularly jarring for me.

    Alternatively, what about keeping the colours constant but applying a different effect for different phases? E.g. flat colour for solids, glossy for liquids and speckly for gasses.

    OK, maybe I’m reaching a bit for “speckly”, but I’m no designer.

    • April 4, 2009 4:29 pm

      The colours can be easily changed in the config.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • April 4, 2009 4:35 pm

      That effect could be done by using SVGs. Probably people are working on it. I am just the programmer here. There are artists working.

  6. April 4, 2009 5:20 pm

    There are many physical and chemical characteristics that could be highlighted this way and would be a useful teaching tool. e.g. size (ions or atoms), acid-base strength, electronegativity, density … I taught chemistry for around 40 years and I could see this as a fun tool. I can “see” symbols popping into the chart as the size value is increased with and small icon showing the picometer diameter as it changed. I really see great value in showing the periodicy of the elements. Great idea. – DBA

    • April 4, 2009 5:56 pm

      Thank you!

      Nice to have a teacher for 40 years reply to my post.
      I will certainly look into the ideas you have suggested.

      There is a plot widget that currently plots data. May be the same data can be used to achieve the same.

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