I was in the local public high school's guidance office this morning, as my son was starting there and there were apparently some things that needed taking care of. We wound up waiting there a very long time, and it's amazing how bored you can get sitting around the office. On the table with various recruitment brochures was one from the Army, in the form of a Periodic Table of the Elements and various useful science-y formulæ and data (on the other side), with “join the Army” information in the margins, etc. Presumably this is the usual advertising strategy of putting your name on something people will see and look at, to get them thinking about you. It's like companies giving out calendars. And perhaps while they're at it, trying to combat any lingering stereotype of the Army as being anti-intellectual or whatever. OK, fair enough, and like I said, you can get very bored there, so I started looking over the table.
Take a look at this scan of the periodic-table side.
And I found a mistake. One so subtle and bizarre my wife has classified this as a “Mark, you are so weird” incident. I'll give you a hint: it's in the square for Berkelium (element #97). Here's a scan of that. Don't read ahead if you want to try to work it out on your own!
Berkelium is element #97. That means it has 97 protons in its nucleus and 97 electrons in its electron shells. But the list of electron shells in the upper right corner of the square adds up to only 96 electrons. Or, if you don't feel like doing the arithmetic, just notice that they are all even numbers, and we are expected to believe that they add up to an odd sum.
There may well be other mistakes, this is just the one that I noticed (I'm not such a chemistry geek that I know the electron shell filling of all the elements by heart, but I can at least add up numbers and check for parity). Just imagine what other horrible mistakes the Army may have committed!
(Whom do I write to about this, anyway? “Dear Army, I found a mistake on your recruitment flier...”?)