Sunday, September 30, 2012

Memory Palaces, Continued: A Quick, Easy Way to Remember The Elements

A few weeks ago I had a huge biochemistry test coming up that required we memorize the essential elements in order of the percent in the human body. Me being a great procrastinator, I completely blew off studying until the night before, and then realized to my horror that I had several element names and symbols to memorize. How could I memorize all of the 14 essential elements? I decided that since it was an ordered list and I didn't have much time, a Memory Palace (my introduction to Memory Palaces is here) would be the best way to memorize them. So, first I decided I would use my current house, since I didn't have time to do anything fancy. Then I started adding the hooks.

My first was walking into my laundry room door and taking a deep breath. Oxygen: O. Next I looked into my washing machine and saw bread, pretzels, and other carbohydrate heavy foods rolling around inside. C: Carbon. Next I looked in my dryer to see a hydrogen bomb tumbling around. H: Hydrogen. I then walked out of the room, looked out the window and saw snow. Under the snow was Nitrogen, N. I looked onto my kitchen table and noticed some spilled milk. Calcium, Ca. I noticed a sprite next to it. Phosphorous, P. Next I looked next to it at a banana. Potassium, K. I looked back at the table and noticed an egg. Sulfur, S. Salt was on the egg. Sodium, Na. I looked outside and noticed a swimming pool in my backyard. Chlorine, Ch. Down below the window was a huge piece of meat being weighed in milligrams on a scale made of iron. Magnesium, Mg. Iron, Fe. On the t.v. was the friends episode about the monkey that swallowed scrabble pieces. His name was Manganese, Mn. On the couch was a man with goiters. I was worried for him because he must have an Iodine deficiency. Iodine, I.

And that's how I memorized the 14 essential elements. I ended up getting 98% on my test, and all 14 elements correct. I haven't studied these for weeks, so this goes to show how impressive the human memory is, especially with mnemonics.

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