When you learned about The Periodic Table of Elements in high school, it probably didn’t look like this. Above, we have a different way of visualizing the elements. Created by Professor William F. Sheehan at Santa Clara University in 1970, this chart takes the elements (usually shown like this) and scales them relative to their abundance on the Earth’s surface.

Source: www.openculture.com

The Periodic Table of Elements shows each element as a box, but that doesn’t help us understand which elements are the most scarce and abundant.  The “rare earths” are crucial ingredients in cell phones, laptops and magnets that create clean energy; China controls 95% of the rare earths production and are no longer exporting these materials to other countries (some consider the availability of rare earths a risk to U.S. national security). 

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