From Hmolpedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Image (2006) from the Dow Human Element, a human symbolized as "Hu", symbolized by the favicon Hu favicon 16x16.png campaign.[1]

In hmolscience, Hu, short for human element or human chemical, refers to a person conceptualized as the "missing element" from the periodic table.


A advert for the BBC 1992 television series "The Human Element", based on John Emsley's 1991 book Human Element, which discussed the elements: arsenic, carbon, oxygen, uranium, nitrogen and sulphur, in respect to humans.

In 1991, John Emsley penned a 32-page booklet entitled Human Element, focused on the six elements: elements arsenic, carbon, oxygen, uranium, nitrogen and sulphur, written to accompany a series of BBC television programs called “The Human Element” which were broadcast in 1992.[2]

In 2006, John Claxton, an advertising agent with DraftFCB, dreamed up the idea of re-conceptualizing a person as the "Human Element", thematic to the idea that the human is the "missing element" from the periodic table; the following is the pitch:

“One of the first steps was a creative meeting at our agency during the “pitch process.” I walked into the meeting with a new element for the periodic table. . . not carbon, hydrogen or oxygen, but the Human Element [Hu]. That pretty much put everything in motion. Including the Human Element on the Periodic Table of the Elements changed the way Dow looked at the world and the way the world looked at Dow. Every creative decision we made from that point on was filtered through the lens of the Human Element, and that’s what took us down a very non-science approach to science advertising.”
— John Claxton (2009), on DraftFCB’s new marketing campaign for Dow[3]

They ended up making a video clip series of advertisements showing people with the "Hu" symbol overlaid.

Hu icon

The following shows the gist of the idea behind the symbols, words, and numbers in the "human element" icon:

Human element (explained).jpg

The element number 08, in the original sketch, as shown above, symbolic of oxygen on the periodic table, thematic to the fact that humans are 61% by mass made of oxygen.[4] The mass number 7E+09 is representative of the current population of humans, which in 2009 was 7,000,000,000 or 7 billion or 7 times 10 to the power of 9.


  1. Mullin, Rick. (2006). “Dow’s Emotional Pitch”, C&EN, Dec 18.
  2. (a) Emsley, John. (1991). Human Element. BBC Educational.
    (b) The Human Element –
  3. Grbic, Jovana J. (2009). “Selling Science Smartly: Dow Human Element Campaign (Interview with advertising mastermind John Claxton)”, Feb 18.
  4. Hmolscience periodic table –

External links

  • Hu –
Theta Delta ics T2.jpg