Using Atomic Number Memory Pegs

Many memory aid systems use memory "pegs," which are pictures used to remind you of numbers. First, memorize the first twenty pictures, especially the association with the numbers. Then, to memorize twenty objects in order, simply think of a picture using each item with one of these 20 previously memorized pictures, and it is easy to remember the objects in order. The more bizarre the picture, the easier it is to remember the object. For example, using the fire hydrant picture for number one, you could think of the first object as being balanced on top of a hydrant, or being soaked by a hydrant, or perhaps with a hydrant on top of the object.

When I took a memory pegs course, I was struck by how senseless the twenty items were, that we were told to memorize, so I tried to think of a list of numbers that are identified with something in nature. My answer is to use the Atomic Numbers! Every element in nature has a number associated with it called the atomic number. I have thought of a set of pictures for 105 objects, which has these features:

If there are two letters in the chemical symbol, they will always occur either together in order, or with a different vowel between them so that you cannot confuse them. The two letters in the abbreviation are always found in the name of the element. For example, the icon for magnesium is "mug" which tells you the symbol must be Mg rather than Ma or Mn. Similarly, the abbreviation for Manganese is Mn because the icon is of Autumn Mangos, and the letters mn occur together in the adjective, which otherwise wouldn't be needed.

The first twenty, which are the most important elements and also most common numbers, also have these two features:

The colors were chosen to be useful for drawing atoms in chemical compounds, as well as to remind you of the element. That is, the most common organic elements are oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen and the have the common colors: white, black, red and blue.

The abbreviations are in bold, the colors are in italics, and similar sounds are underlined.

When you memorize them, it is important to associate the number with the picture, and then as a secondary step, associate the picture with the element. Even if you don't care about the periodic table at all, you can still use the 105 pictures to remember up to 105 things in order. That is the whole idea of memory pegs.

Atomic Numbers 1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-105
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