The Origin of the Elements Collection:
I've always had a loose fascination with science and chemistry, and it was always satisfying to have something pure, that you couldn't break down with chemicals, or say a glass tube that was all sealed shut that you knew had something unusual in it (Or maybe something that even glowed when electrified!)
I only learned about what makes an element an element, and how atoms work, a short time ago(Go Here for more on that, I highly suggest it), but ever since then, my main fascination in life has been finding unusual atoms (particles of elements) in everyday objects. Even if it's not pure, it's still cool to know there's uranium oxide (A compound of uranium and oxygen) in certain colored glass! Thus, the Atomic Emporium was unofficially born!
But after awhile, I wanted to do more than just have them for myself, and I wanted to help other people who might've had the same problems I did finding rare elements, and help teach about the elements and their uses, because I find it fascinating to know what the whole world is made of, and I think everyone should know at least a little about it.
One of the first elements I learned where to find was simple copper, probably pretty much everyone has seen it in coins, like the basic US penny, but what I later found out was that most pennies you see today aren't pure copper! Any penny made after about 1980 is a thin coating of copper on a core made of a different metal, zinc(You can see the zinc in pennies by sanding or grinding the edges, you'll soon see silver color instead of copper) After this I started to save any penny I found before 1980, and I learned to recognize slight differences in the way they where made, thus changing how I look at a handful of change forever.
Another coin related element is the metal nickel, even though US nickels are named after it, they are an alloy of 25% nickel and 75% copper(Meaning oddly enough there's more copper in nickels than pennies!). But then I found out that some older Canadian coins where very pure nickel(nickels before 1989, dimes and quarters before 1999), so that was another fairly pure element in my collection!
Ever since those first two, I've been basically hoarding anything that looks interesting to me, then looking up what it is later in hopes of finding something unusual. This is the source of many of my more unusual samples!
Many of the elements on the periodic table are quite toxic or reactive in pure form, example bromine produces very toxic orange fumes, and sodium will explode violently if it comes in contact with simple water. Some elements are well known for being dangerous, such as the toxicity of mercury, or the radioactivity of uranium.
I personally am very careful with what I find or chemically make, I never go into any chemical reaction without looking it up first, and I know how to store dangerous elements safely. I understand the risks of chemical toxicity, and for radioactivity, which I have a Geiger counter to measure it, so I can be sure I'm not in any danger from it.
I STRONGLY suggest you do NOT deal with any chemicals or elements without RESEARCHING FIRST, and always tell someone what you're doing so they can know if something's wrong. Similarly, I suggest you do not deal with radioactivity without researching first, and even after researching I suggest you buy a Geiger counter, because nuclear radiation is completely invisible to your senses, and can be quite harmful.